Comic Review – The Path of the Open Hand Makes Its Move in “Star Wars: The High Republic” (2022) #4

Last week, writer George Mann’s audio drama Star Wars: The High Republic – The Battle of Jedha kicked the second phase of Lucasfilm Publishing’s ambitious multi-platform initiative into high gear, as a massive conflict broke out on the Pilgrim Moon.

Now, in the pages of Marvel’s Star Wars: The High Republic second-volume miniseries, the stories cross over as Jedi Knight Vildar Mac and Padawan Matthea “Matty” Cathley recover from an explosion in Jedha’s Temple of the Kyber.

The High Republic #4 begins with Vildar being attended to in the Jedha City headquarters of the Convocation of the Force– the advisory council that brings together a variety of different force-based religions on the Pilgrim Moon. When he awakens from his injuries, Mac is insistent on returning to the Temple of the Kyber to help the Guardians of the Whills who were injured in the blast, but Matty informs him that one of them– an archivist named Zumeg– already died in the time that has passed since the explosion, though he did save another one’s– Oranalli’s– life. The two Jedi seek answers from Tey Sirrek’s droid, but its memory has been wiped clean in the devastating incident, meaning that the former Guardian is still the prime suspect. Meanwhile in the Kyber Temple, Sirrek is taken into custody, and the current Guardians find that he’s using an earpiece to listen in on the Jedi’s conversation via his droid. The Convocation meets to discuss the investigation into the matter, and Vildar is beginning to doubt his certainty that Sirrek is responsible for the blast, but the meeting is interrupted by the Herald from the Path of the Open Hand (see Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland’s excellent young-adult novel Star Wars: The High Republic – Path of Deceit for much more on them), who demands that the Convocation be disbanded, or that at the very least all Force usage be prohibited until the Path’s theories can be put to the test.

The Path of the Open Hand believes that any manipulation of the Force causes an imbalance elsewhere in the galaxy, but the Convocation calls the Herald’s demands outrageous, causing him to exit onto the streets and start a riot among Jedha’s civilian population against the other Force religions. Chaos breaks out, while from the shadows emerges one of the creatures known as the Nameless (AKA the Leveler), which seemingly plants the idea in a representative from the Sorcerers of Tund that the rioters are all soulless, bloodthirsty monsters. The Sorcerer lashes out with the Force, bringing this issue to its tantalizing cliffhanger. And once again, writer Cavan Scott has delivered a thrilling page-turner, working alongside artist Andrea Broccardo (filling in for Ario Anindito this issue) to ensure that every panel is filled with either exhilarating action, intriguing character beats, or fascinating details about how these various religious sects interact and coexist with each other on Jedha– something I’ve been incredibly curious about since Rogue One’s release in 2016. The wild card in all these machinations is, of course, the Path, and I can’t wait to see how this narrative continues to overlap with what we know is coming from that particular cult thanks to The Battle of Jedha. There are a lot of forces at play– no pun intended– on the streets of Jedha City by the end of this issue, and it’s going to be a long wait until February to find out how they all find a way to make peace.

Star Wars: The High Republic #4 is available now wherever comic books are sold.