And so begins the second volume of Star Wars: The High Republic, “Heart of the Drengir.” With the launch of the second wave of High Republic-era novels this week, the residual questions from the last issue have been answered and now we see what a terrifying threat the Drengir are.
Marvel’s Star Wars: The High Republic #6
Ask any Star Wars fan what they want to see the franchise do next and you will probably hear “horror” nine times out of ten. While we haven’t seen true horror on our screens yet, Cavan Scott and the architects of The High Republic era have introduced their own brand of horror with the carnivorous sentient plants the Drengir. Truly terrifying stuff if you have the highly specific fear of vines worming their way into your ears, nose, and mouth. I can hear ENTs everywhere shuddering.
The sixth issue opens in the Outer Rim on Daivak, a few months after the close of the fifth issue. Marshall Avar Kriss continues to work alongside the Hutts to rid the galaxy of the Drengir, while Keeve Trennis stays at the side of Sskeer as he recovers from his own Drengir infestation.
During one of her conversations with Doctor Gino’le about Sskeer’s condition, the doctor suggests that the fact that Keeve cannot sense her Master’s connection to the Force may have less to do with his physical condition and more to do with a crisis of faith. Sskeer’s alleged crisis of faith is not the only one presented in the comic. Keeve’s annotation about the Jedi’s crusade against the Drengir reveals, in a sense, her own crisis of faith.
Keeve reflects on the uncertainty and fear left in the wake of the Drengir, but she also questions whether the Jedi’s attempts at saving the galaxy have come too late. There’s also guilt over her remaining beside Sskeer while Avar Kriss and the Jedi are fighting the Drengir. We already know that Keeve is most definitely the Master Trennis referenced by Yoda in Dooku: Jedi Lost, which was also written by Cavan Scott. In that, Master Trennis was one of the Lost Twenty — a disillusioned Jedi who left the Order.
At the onset of The High Republic, we were presented with the question: “What are the Jedi afraid of?” While it may not seem completely obvious we have seen, time and time again, in both the books and the comics that the Jedi fear their own failure. But Marvel’s The High Republic comics have made it very clear that the Jedi — led by Avar Kriss — are overextending themselves and trying to be the saviors of everyone in the galaxy. In order for the Order to fall as disastrously as they do, their pedestal has to be perilously high.
In this first chapter of Volume 2, “The Galaxy Unites” we see Avar Kriss as a Marshall, working with Terec, Ceret, and the Hutts. But her alliance with the Hutts is not something that has been well received with her peers, particularly Stellan Gios who makes an appearance via hologram. He and Estala Maru discuss the Council’s unease with the “Pact” she has made, giving contextual clues that not everyone is steadfastly on Avar Kriss’ side in regards to her leadership tactics.
Back on the Starlight Beacon, Keeve gets a little too close to Sskeer (perhaps intentionally) and finds herself pulled into what can only be called the root of the Drengir and the mass of vines of interconnected vines that allow them to communicate with one another. Through this, Keeve is able to reunite with Sskeer. When they embrace we see, yet again, this casual rebuff of “the Jedi way,” which is really compelling stuff when you get to the root of it.
Fortunately for the Jedi as they struggle with the Drengir across the galaxy, Keeve and Sskeer are able to find the location of Drengir’s “Great Progenitor” while in the heart of the Drengir’s viney mind. Initial results yield nothing for a planet called Mulita, but they find a system by that name in the ancient records. What exactly is the “Nightmare Conjunction” and will we find out about it in The High Republic?
Once again, we wrap up another issue of Star Wars: The High Republic, and I am left offering only the highest of praise to Cavan Scott, Phil Noto, Georges Jeanty, Karl Story, and Annalisa Leoni. Each issue is so gorgeously designed, from the characters and their surroundings to the aesthetics that make this series what it is. Scott delivers brilliant storytelling in only twenty pages.
Keeve Trennis is such a magnificent protagonist and I cannot wait to see where her journey goes next in The High Republic.