As Phase II of Lucasfilm’s ambitious multi-platform publishing initiative Star Wars: The High Republic speeds toward its conclusion, this week saw the release of the penultimate issue of its flagship comic book from Marvel by Cavan Scott.
“The High Republic” Vol II, #9 begins in the secret Jedi vault underneath the fallen statue of the Final Protector in the Dunes of Contemplation outside the Holy City on Jedha.
There, Jedi Master Leebon has been consumed by the fearsome, Force-eating creature called the Leveler at the command of the Herald of the Path of the Open Hand, Werth Plouth. Jedi Knight Vildar Mac and his ally (and former Guardian of the Whills) Tey Sirrek watch helplessly from the shadows as Leebon is turned to ash, and Vildar sinks into a pit of terror as a side effect of the Leveler’s powers against Force users. Soon the Herald is alerted to the presence of these two interlopers, and a battle begins between our heroes and the members of the Path. During the skirmish, Tey stumbles across a dark-side artifact known as the Hand of Siberus (though this is only identified by name on this issue’s cover and not in the interior of the comic), which grants him the ability to unleash pink-hued beams of electricity. This gives Sirrek an advantage over both the Path followers and the Leveler, the latter of which he kills in a fit of rage when it’s sicced on Vildar Mac. In turn, Path member Yana Ro (see Scott’s excellent young-adult novel Star Wars: The High Republic – Path of Vengeance for much more on her situation) evidently murders Tey Sirrek.
Meanwhile, back at the Jedha City tapbar called Enlightenment, Jedi Padawan Matty Cathley defends the establishment from the rampaging droid army that would destroy it otherwise. Frustrated by merely standing her ground alongside a couple of other protectors, Matty destroys the energy-field generator that was their only line of defense and goes on the offensive against the droids with her lightsaber. Back in the vault, Vildar is enraged by the apparent death of Tey and his inability to access the Force while in the Leveler’s presence, so he dons the Hand of Siberus himself and unleashes its power on the Herald. That gives us this issue’s cliffhanger ending, and a reminder that we sort of already know the outcome of this confrontation via Path of Vengeance. That’s not too big a deal, but it does deflate just a little bit of the suspense here as Vildar loses his cool– however temporarily. But otherwise, this is still Cavan Scott working at the top of his game as a writer, with artist Ario Anindito thrillingly taking back the reins as this title’s illustrator. Every page had me on the edge of my seat, and I absolutely love the tense scenario that Scott has constructed in this tantalizing Force-imbued location under the Jedha desert. With just one issue left to go of this comic in Phase II (though I already know the aftermath for at least a few of these characters), I am counting down the days until I can read the conclusion to this arc… which fortunately arrives in just a couple weeks.
Star Wars: The High Republic #9 is available now wherever comic books are sold.