When it comes to Star Wars: The High Republic for Comic-Con@Home 2021, “We Are All Swathers Decooks.” (That’s how all the cool folks are saying “Star Wars: The High Republic at San Diego Comic-Con.”) Hosted by the ever-talented Krystina Arielle (host of Star Wars: The High Republic Show), online attendees got insights on the latest Star Wars books and comics from Claudia Gray (Star Wars: The High Republic: Into the Dark), Justina Ireland (Star Wars: The High Republic: Out of the Shadows), Daniel José Older (Star Wars: The High Republic: Race to Crashpoint Tower), Cavan Scott (Star Wars: The High Republic: The Great Jedi Rescue, Star Wars The High Republic comics, and Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm), and Charles Soule (Star Wars: The High Republic: Light of the Jedi). We also got some sneak peeks on what to expect next for this “more civilized age.”
Be aware that in order to discuss the future of Star Wars: The High Republic, we will also be discussing its past, so be aware of SPOILERS going forward!
“A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far, Far Away…”
The books and comics of Star Wars: The High Republic first debuted this year in January 2021. The all-ages and multi-year media project reintroduces the Jedi Knights of Star Wars at the true height of their power and fame.
Wave 1 of Star Wars: The High Republic begins with the Great Disaster. 200 years before Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the Great Peace of the Galactic Republic is interrupted when a colony ship called the Legacy Run is torn apart in hyperspace. The debris continues traveling at lightspeed, with wreckage emerging from hyperspace to impact other ships and even inhabited worlds! The disaster had been (intentionally, as we later learn) caused by a group of anarchist marauders known as “The Nihil”. In retaliation, the Jedi defeat the Nihil (or so they think).
Star Wars: The High Republic is currently in the early stages of Wave 2. In the aftermath of the Nihil “extinction,” multiple Republic members come together on the beautiful Outer Rim world Valo to celebrate the Galactic Fair. Though traditionally held on Coruscant, the annual fete is moved to Valo. The Republic hopes to instill a spirit of unity and a sense of normality in the recovering Outer Rim.
Unfortunately, the Nihil return. Bringing a dangerous and carnivorous plant species known as the “Drengir,” the Nihil viciously attack the Fair. The Republic and the Jedi, determined to defeat the Nihil once and for all, decide to go on the offensive. Unfortunately, this is exactly what Nihil leader Marchion Ro planned.
“You want to put your characters – especially the most beloved characters – through the worst possible time…”
For more information about the Attack on the Republic Fair, Krystina introduces Cavan Scott. Cavan explains that the Galactic Fair is a celebration of all that is good in the Republic. Of course, Supreme Chancellor Lina Soh use that to promote her “Great Works” projects in the Outer Rim. “It’s her saying [to the Outer Rim], ‘Look, this is who we are. This is who you could be a part of,” explains Cavan.
Cavan says that the heart of the Attack on the Republic Fair (and his book The Rising Storm, which released last month) is “hubris gone wrong.” Both the Jedi and the Republic falsely believe that threats like the Great Disaster can never happen again. “Lightning won’t strike twice,” Cavan summarizes. Similarly, the Nihil falsely believe that if they can successfully attack Valo, then the whole Star Wars galaxy will fear them and they can raid as they please! “I can’t say it ends well for just about anyone at all,” Cavan ominously warns. He also teased that in one of his future Star Wars: The High Republic comics, a Jedi actually leaves the Order to join the Nihil!
The panel then moves on to Daniel José Older: the only Star Wars author brave enough to give a Jedi Master the nickname “Buckets of Blood” and to give Master Yoda a baking hobby. In Daniel’s young adult novel Race to Crashpoint Tower, readers will be introduced to a new Jedi Padawan named Ram Jomaram. Born and raised as a Jedi on Valo, Ram is not used to his beautiful but off-the-beaten-path planet being the center of galactic attention.
Ram finds himself in a strange time for many young Jedi like him. For roughly seven centuries, the Jedi Knights haven’t been called to war by the Republic. Jedi Padawans have seen some battle with the Nihil. However, it is not until the Galactic Fair that things truly escalate.
When Krystina asks if we might see Ram beyond Race to Crashpoint Tower, Daniel struggles not to spoil Ram’s final fate. He encourages fans to pick up the free issue of Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures at Free Comic Book Day on August 14, 2021. There, Ram will team up with established The High Republic Adventures characters like Zeen Mrala and Padawan Lula Talisola. “There’s lots more Ram to come,” Daniel promises.
When Krystina asked for one sentence to describe what’s to come for The High Republic Adventures, Daniel gave us five (though he claims to be using semicolons). “The next section, we follow [Padawans] Farzala and Qort, and what they’re doing during the time of the Republic Fair,” Daniel reveals, “They have some Drengir situation to deal with, but they also have some diplomatic Hutt situations to deal with…” Daniel also says we will meet Farzala’s Jedi Master, who is “really cool,” an “amazing nap taker” and a “great diplomat.” “You had me at nap taker,” Krystina claims as Daniel cheers.
Daniel also announces he has another young adult novel still to come: Star Wars: The High Republic: Midnight Horizon. “I can’t wait for people to read it,” says Daniel, “It is a CHAOTIC mess, in the best possible way!”
“One of the best things about this kind of interlocking storytelling is our characters do get to grow…”
The panel continues with a warm welcome for Justina Ireland. In Out of the Shadows, which released last week, the Nihil play a big role. Sylvestri Yarrow is the captain of a cargo hauler named the Switchback, and she’s had a string of bad luck. Her mother was recently killed in a Nihil attack. Because of the Great Disaster, the cost of starship fuel has gone up.
It’s getting harder and harder for Sylvestri to transport her goods across the galaxy and make ends meet. So, of course, it’s only natural her bad luck continues by having the Nihil attack her and the Switchback. She barely escapes with her life but losing her ship (thus, her sole source of credits). A fed-up Sylvestri decides to tell the Senators on Coruscant that the Nihil aren’t as gone as they believe.
“So that kind of, you know, accidentally gets her into a WHOLE mess of political drama,” Justina explains, “With none other than Vernestra Rwoh (my favorite Jedi), her erstwhile Padawan Imri Cantaros, and then we also get to have, uh, Reath Silas and Cohmac Vitus tag along as well.” Justina details that Out of the Shadows is more political drama, but in that classic Star Wars storytelling and with a little bit of space adventure. “What I love, personally, about Star Wars: where things start off seeming one way,” Justina shares, “And then the deeper you get to the story, the more ‘the onion’ is peeled, to reveal something else inside.”
Justina also talked about how readers haven’t seen Vernestra in Star Wars: The High Republic since Star Wars: The High Republic: A Test of Courage (also written by Justina). “It was kind of like, ‘I never left!'” explained Justina. She hopes readers enjoy seeing a far more adult version of Vernestra. This Vernestra can now tackle heavier issues than Justina could in a middle school children’s book.
“Like Daniel was saying earlier, you know, these are not Jedi who were, like, ready to go fight,” Justina emphasizes, “These are Jedi who want to meditate and develop that connection to the Force, and they’ve been called into a VERY different kind of vocation than what they would normally be prepared for.” Out of the Shadows will also explore how non-Jedi view the Jedi and the current events in the galaxy.
Justina also revealed that like A Test of Courage, her next book is also for middle school readers: Star Wars: The High Republic: Mission to Disaster. “Which is not ominous at all,” Justina jokes. Justina is also writing serialized for Star Wars Insider (along with Cavan) and even a manga!
Charles Soule began the new Star Wars: The High Republic era, so Krystina speaks with Charles on the reaction he received for the #1 New York Times Bestselling Light of the Jedi. “With Light of the Jedi, it really was exactly the story that I wanted to put into the world at that particular time,” Charles confesses, “The message and the tone and all of it was, you know, and the fact that it was introducing this new era, it was, you know, I felt like it was everything I wanted to do creatively.” The message “We Are All The Republic” resonated a lot at a time when much of the world is still in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Charles also shares how the Nihil have evolved over the course of Star Wars: The High Republic. The Nihil were originally just a single group of anarchist raiders operating out of a nebula in the Outer Rim. A key advantage that the Nihil have is the Paths. Using arcane knowledge of hyperspace, the Nihil can appear and disappear anywhere and anytime. However, by Wave 2, Marchion Ro managed to unify the Nihil under his formidable leadership.
Now the Nihil’s purpose is Ro’s purpose: to destroy the Jedi and the Republic, along with their “perverse” idea of freedom. Where once the Nihil simply took whatever they wanted, now the Nihil murder and assassinate to enforce their anarchistic vision on the Star Wars galaxy.
Charles describes how charming Marchion Ro can be and how that actually makes him quite terrifying. “But then you know the minute you leave the room, his face goes blank: it’s all just a mask,” Charles details, “You know, like most, uh, Star Wars bad guys wear masks, Marchion Ro does too, but that’s his ENTIRE personality.” For those looking to learn about the complicated backstory behind Marchion Ro, Charles is currently writing a special two-issue comic series called Star Wars: The High Republic: Eye of the Storm. Eye of the Storm releases in January 2022!
To wrap up our panel is yet another #1 New York Times Bestselling author: Claudia Gray! Claudia revealed how she was actually quite nervous before the release of Into the Dark. “Somehow, even though at this point I’ve been publishing for, I think fifteen years.” Claudia admits, “I am still convinced every book is the one that is gonna make everybody go, ‘Wait, what?! No!!!’.”
Krystina asks Claudia if her Jedi are more like Qui-Gon Jinn or Obi-Wan Kenobi? “I don’t think either of them maps exactly onto those templates,” Claudia deduces, “You know, I definitely think Cohmac and Qui-Gon would get on. I think they both have some interest in a little mysticism, a little esoterica…” She adds that even as a Jedi Master, Cohmac struggles. He is conflicted about some of the basic tenets of the Jedi Order (such as the separation of the Force into a “light side” and a “dark side”).
Also, the “anti-adventure” Reath has more in common with Master Jocasta Nu in the Jedi Archives than Obi-Wan… Claudia is excited to see what Justina does with those characters in Out of the Shadows!
Claudia is excited to finally announce that she will be kicking off Wave 3 of Star Wars: The High Republic with her next book: Star Wars: The High Republic: The Fallen Star. Wave 3 is announced with the moderately ominous tagline: “The Light of the Jedi goes dark…”. In fact, all of the books announced at the panel (The Fallen Star, Mission to Disaster, Eye of the Storm, and Midnight Horizon) will all be released in January 2022 to kick off Wave 3!
May The Force Be With You, SDCC!
For more information on Wave 3 and all the Star Wars: The High Republic updates still to come, be sure to check out the next episode of the Star Wars: The High Republic Show tomorrow (Wednesday, July 28, 2021) on the Star Wars YouTube channel!
Star Wars: The High Republic – We Are All The Republic! (Comic-Con@Home 2021):
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