Writer: Cavan Scott
Artist: Ario Anindito
Inker: Mark Morales
Colorist: Annalisa Leoni
Cover Artist: Phil Noto
The High Republic shows the Golden Age of the Jedi Order and the Galactic Republic. Where peace, justice, and a fire for discovery reign. Or so it seems. Threats continue to linger under the Jedi’s nose and now they’ve burst to the surface. Star Wars: The High Republic #4 shows the terror of the Drengir and how the Jedi will face this new threat.
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In the last few issues, the High Republic comic series introduced readers to 2 new major galactic threats. Or what the creators would like to be seen as much. The Nihil, a violent anarchist space pirate gang and the Drengir, a sentient alien race of macabre carnivorous flora with the goal of consuming other life across the galaxy. Performing their “harvests” if you will. The impression was pretty mild, to be honest. They come across as genuine new threats but not enough to jeopardize the galaxy or the Jedi.
The comic shows Sskeer, who has been turned (rather too quickly, I might add) to the Dark Side and is under the Drengir’s sway. The comic uses him to reveal a quick tale of the Drengir’s origins and how they’ve returned to the present galaxy. It’s a little cool, showing some familiar foes Star Wars will undoubtedly recognize. Then things escalate from there as the Jedi fight the Drengir on two fronts, on Sedri Minor (the planet the main cast is on) and the Jedi HQ, Starlight Beacon.
The comic is trying to accomplish two things here: tell a story and do more world building for the “Galactic Frontier” in the High Republic. Cavan Scott is pulling double duty here as he’s trying to set up the threats in the far edges of space but he’s also trying to tell a story that feels incredibly rushed.
A major example of this is his development of Master Sskeer. See, this whole comic hinges on the relationship between the main character, young Jedi Knight Keeve Trennis and her master. There’s even a quick flashback that readers can see in the previews here, showing their strong bond. The problem is this is rarely shown between them in the present since the very first issue. In fact, Sskeer comes across like he’s tired of training her, like Trennis is a burden to him and he just wants be done teaching her.
It also doesn’t help that the story rushed his development like crazy in the last issue and in this one to make things happen. The comic art by Ario Anindito isn’t too bad but it’s not spectacular. Again, the standout color for this comic, like the others, is green. Whether it’s the color of Trennis’ narration boxes, Sskeer, the Drengir, or bright glowing green lightsabers. Green rules in this comic.
After the main fight, the comic tries to set up even more threats at the same time, one back in Starlight Beacon, and another just making planetfall on Sedri Minor. Again, Scott is trying to build up the dangers of the Galactic Frontier and tell a story at the same time, but it’s not coming together all that well.
Other than the rushed story development, I’d say the other big issue is that the Drengir, like the Nihil, just don’t feel like big galactic threats. They feel more like vermin the Jedi have to take care of when they should more like a living plague or as dangerous as a force of nature or something. Instead, this comic just keeps bringing up cool ideas for more popular Star Wars villains to explore.
Such as when Sskeer tells the Drengir’s backstory, the comic visually reveals the Sith teamed up with the Drengir in the distant past, but then sealed them away. I’m sure that could make for a cool Darth Vader comic miniseries. The Empire unearths a mysterious tomb containing the Drengir and Vader has to finish what the ancient Sith started and wipe these horrors from the galaxy. But here in the High Republic, they just come across as small potatoes.
Star Wars: The High Republic #4 is trying to ramp things up with the Drengir. It works on some parts but fails at others. The story feels very rushed concerning certain characters, especially Master Sskeer and his choices. This comic has some difficulty in balancing its world-building and telling a solid story.