Today saw the release of Star Wars: The High Republic – Shadows of Starlight #1 from Marvel Comics, which officially marks the launch of Phase III of Lucasfilm Publishing’s ambitious multi-platform initiative. Below are my brief recap and thoughts on this issue.
Shadows of Starlight #1 fills in what happened during the first year following the end of The High Republic Phase I (which was set long after the events of Phase II, if that makes sense), giving us the Jedi Order’s initial reaction and response to the destruction of the Republic’s Starlight Beacon space station at the hands of the ruthless band of marauders known as the Nihil. First we see the recovery effort on the planet Eiram, where Jedi Knights like Avar Kriss and Elzar Mann work tirelessly to rescue as many survivors as they can. Then writer Charles Soule (Star Wars: Dark Droids) cuts to Coruscant, where the Order has recalled each and every member back to their Temple headquarters in order to regroup and formulate a plan to combat the Nihil and their Nameless creatures that can basically siphon off the Jedi’s Force connections, turning them into lifeless husks.
At a big meeting in the familiar-looking Republic Senate chambers, the Jedi Council announces that they are instituting the “Guardian Protocols,” which essentially means the ordinarily peaceful Order must become warriors in order to battle the Nihil. In addition to that, Younglings’ training will be accelerated and Padawans will undergo their trials more expediently, which reminds me a lot of what happened to the Jedi at the start of the Clone Wars much later on in the Star Wars timeline. There’s also a bit here where we see how the craftsmanship of the Jedi lightsabers transform from the ornate High Republic style into the much more utilitarian versions we’re used to from the Original Trilogy era. Then the back half of this comic is spent dealing with a mysterious visitor to the Jedi Temple, who accompanies Master Yoda after the diminutive Grandmaster has been away for some time.
Soon we discover, via a meeting with the Jedi Council, that the visitor is none other than Azlin Rell, a former Jedi character who should be familiar to anyone who has read through The High Republic Phase II. It seems that after his encounter with the Nameless, Rell allowed himself to fall to the dark side of the Force so he can better research the creatures. The Council is hesitant to accept his help, but soon Yoda helps Azlin recover some of his lost memories and they are on their way to reconnect with the Leffbruk family (also from Phase II) to try and recover a compass that will lead them to the Nameless’s home planet. That’s where Rell betrays Yoda and causes a shipwreck that eliminates any further possibility of tracking the Nameless to their source, killing thousands in the process. Yoda’s not thrilled with this, naturally, but Azlin insists he’s intent on eliminating the Nameless threat no matter what the cost. All told, Shadows of Starlight #1 is a great kick-off to Phase III of The High Republic by one of my absolute favorite current Star Wars authors, working alongside the talented artist Ibraim Roberson (Star Wars: Yoda). With this four-issue miniseries set to catch us up on the aftereffects of the Starlight Beacon disaster and Marvel’s flagship Star Wars: The High Republic title set to launch again in November, it’s a very exciting time for fans of this thrilling and innovative period of storytelling in A Galaxy Far, Far Away.
Star Wars: The High Republic – Shadows of Starlight #1 is available now wherever comic books are sold.