A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, my friend put on Star Wars: A New Hope during a sleepover and I was immediately hooked (this was even before the Special Editions came out). I say this because while I will attempt to review this from the standpoint of a neutral reader, ultimately I’m reviewing this as a Star Wars fan and this will color my review somewhat.
Not a huge Star Wars fan? Never fear, The High Republic series is a good place to start for both Star Wars newbies and veterans. The series takes place during the golden age of the Jedi Knights, 200 years before any of the movies, so you don’t need to worry about knowing tons of background lore or recognizing any characters. While the stories of the High Republic era are being spread out over novels, audiobooks, and comics, the various authors have carefully separated the various plotlines just enough that you needn’t read the novels to understand the comics or vice versa.
Thus, There Is No Fear introduces us immediately to Jedi-in-training Padawan Keeve Trennis. A Jedi is part of the order of Jedi Knights, a galaxy-wide organzation of beings who can wield mysterious powers by tapping into an energy field created by all living things called the Force. Jedi are taught to use the Force for “good,” and see themselves as neutral peacekeepers of the galaxy.
At the beginning of There is No Fear, the Jedi have just opened a brand new station, Starlight Beacon, at the outer, grittier edges of the galaxy. While Keeve is in the middle of her trials to become a full Jedi Knight, she abandons her Master, a lizard-like man named Ssker, to help a nearby village that is being attacked. Unfortunately, the wise and calm Ssker is traumatized by recent events that led to the loss of some of his closest friends and his arm, and he, Keeve, and the golden child of the Jedi Order and leader of Starlight Beacon, Master Avar Kriss, find themselves facing a terrifying enemy the galaxy hasn’t seen for a thousand generations.
This volume sets up the rest of the series well. Readers are clearly introduced to the Jedi, their use of the Force, their philosophical leanings and their weapon of choice, the fabled lightsaber, in a brilliantly illuminated universe illustrated by Ario Anandito. Each visited locale is unique and distinctive, Anandito’s art letting the reader hear the clank of boots on a metal spaceship floor or catch the grassy whiff of pale yellow fields of space barley our protagonists wander through. It isn’t hard to imagine these planets really existing in a galaxy far, far away.
Rather than throw the Jedi’s eternal dark-side enemies, the Sith, at them, as is the general trend for Star Wars media, we are introduced to a race of evil sentient plant-like creatures who are able to overcome even prodigy Master Avar Kriss. Padawan Keeve idolizes Master Kriss, and it’s clear how facing an enemy even the Jedi aren’t sure how to fight is sowing the seeds of conflict down the line. It’s easy to admire someone when everything is going well, but what happens when they begin making decisions that may end up conflicting with the very core of what your organization is about? What happens when the mentor who trained you begins acting in ways you never could have imagined as they try to process their own trauma?
There is No Fear manages to make Star Wars feel fresh, yet simultaneously familiar, making it both a good starting point for new fans and a great beginning to a new era for long-time fans. Fear or no fear, there’s a little something for everyone here!
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, Vol. 1: There is No Fear
Author: Cavan Scott
Artist: Ario Anandito
Publication Date: 25 August 2021
Print Length: 110 pages
Marie’s Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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