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Graphic Novel Review: Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures, Vol. 1 – Daniel José Older, Harvey Tolibao

This story is FUN!

This was among the many, many books I received for Christmas. Unfortunately, my family was in the middle of a big move and I had to sadly lay all books aside while we prepared for The Actual Moving Day. Fortunately, uncharacteristically snowy and cold weather hit the Pacific Northwest, and we found ourselves graced with an extra day before the moving truck could arrive. Instead of doing some last-minute moving-related things, I naturally flung all responsibilities aside, snuggled up in a fleece blanket, and grabbed The High Republic Adventures, Vol. 1 .

How to sum up my thoughts in four words? This story is FUN.

While Marvel’s ongoing The High Republic series is very modern, with sleek art, bright colors, and polished dialogue, IDW’s The High Republic Adventures feels a little retro. Tolibao’s pen lines are more organic and don’t have the pixel-sharp look of most modern comics, and the paler colors and Older’s thoughtful but occasionally goofy dialogue remind me of the Star Wars comics of the 90’s. While this had the potential to make the entire story feel old and tired, instead it’s like going back to your childhood and having an absolute blast playing with your action figures.

Older frames the story between three main characters: Jedi Padawan Lula Talisola, non-human teenage girl Zeen Mrala, and Zeen’s friend, a human boy named Krix. The first half of the book has parallel narrations from Lula and Zeen as Lula attempts to draw on her Jedi training during a battle, and Zeen accepts that she can use the mystical power of the Force, even though her clan shuns Force-users. The second half of the book has parallel narrations from Zeen and Krix, who find their friendship shattered now that they are far from their homeworld and navigating opposite sides of fighting forces. Older weaves the parallel narrations magnificently. Characters narrate in different-colored text boxes for the reader’s clarity, but often the parallel narrations find their respective characters thinking the exact same lines in completely different contexts, and these moments are highlighted by having the characters on the same page with their text boxes in a gradient of their colors. Honestly, it’s a very clever look into how people can come to the same conclusion and find the same sorts of strength even in extraordinarily different situations.

Supporting characters give the plot an extremely lively touch–who would have thought a proud, noble Jedi Knight would run into battle screaming, “Buckets of Blood has arrived on the scene!”? I felt like the space station Starlight Beacon and the worlds visited by the cast are truly inhabited, busy places, with something going on in every corner of each page. Older and Talibao’s world is populated, with large swaths of contrasting colors and dynamic movements that make the galaxy feel alive. It’s a very fun world, with a straightforward but captivating storyline, and I can’t wait to read more.

Disclaimer: I purchased the print version of this graphic novel on my own because I am a gigantic Star Wars fan. I was not paid for this review, and all opinions are my own.

Title: Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures, Volume 1
Author: Daniel José Older (author), Harvey Tolibao (artist)
Publication date: 16 November 2021
Print Length: 128 pages
Marie’s Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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