SPOILER REVIEW: "The High Republic #2: There is No Fear, Chapter II: Tomb in Space" by Cavan Scott
This was definitely a highly intriguing issue with some very interesting plot point set-ups, but it took me two read throughs to fully understand what was going on in a couple of places. Also, compared to the first issue of this series, there's no triumph...only horror, which took me by unexpected surprise although I probably should have seen it coming with Cavan Scott of "Tales from Vader's Castle" fame at the helm. It'll certainly be interesting seeing where everything goes from here!
The main thing I realized that the reader needs to keep in mind is that Sskeer (the Trandoshan Jedi Master who was once Master to Keeve Trennis the newly minted human Jedi Knight in this series) is suffering from severe PTSD courtesy of the Battle of Kur between the Republic and the Nihil during which he lost his arm. Trandoshans can grow their limbs back if they lose them so I'm not 100% clear on why he's so traumatized--but traumatized he absolutely is. He flashes back to the moment he endured injury during the battle and the panel is flushed red and vividly intense, certainly projecting what Sskeer is seeing in his mind and feeling in his heart/soul. He's letting rage and the urge for revenge take him over and it's clouding his vision through the Force. He even growls aloud that he can't sense the surviving Nihil on the ship they (Sskeer, Keeve, Ceret, and Terec) receive a distress call from. Once able to see the marauder, in a fit of utterly blinded rage, he lashes out and slices the Nihil in two, terrifying the other Jedi. Later, Marshal Avar Kriss on the Starlight Beacon receives a call from these Jedi and in response to Sskeer's "These animals have no honor." she says, "Master Sskeer, we must never demonize our enemies, no matter what atrocities they have committed in the past. They are still living beings." Little does Kriss know just how deep Sskeer's anger and trauma runs.
Another thing that added a layer of confusion was the introduction of Ceret and Terec, Kotabi identical bond-twins who essentially "share the same brilliant mind." They can finish each other's sentences and even feel each other's pain, making it such that Keeve has trouble telling them apart--if a character in the story can't tell two other characters apart, how is the reader supposed to?? I'm sure I'll figure out a trick down the line, but for now it ain't easy, that's for sure.
So we've got Sskeer, Keeve, Ceret, and Terec who are answering a distress call sent from the Kazlin system. They arrive to bodies floating out in space and no survivors...at least no good guy survivors. Inside the ship, there's a dead Hutt pocked with blaster holes surrounded by more dead sentients. It is clear to the Jedi, due to a fog of gas greeting them as they enter the ship, that the Nihil are responsible for all of the death and destruction before them. Turns out the gas is Nagnol which is "a natural gas capable of disrupting ship sensors and fatal to even Hutts in large doses." And we learn that the Hutt was transporting a kind of barley called Vratixia renanicus that was "originally cultivated on Thyferra [and] is a key ingredient of bacta alongside Alazhi and Kavam."
Through a navidroid on the ship, the Jedi learn that the vessel was headed to the Sedri System when they were attacked. The Sedri system consists of "two habitable planets: Sedri itself is 99% covered in water, but its neighbor--Sedri Minor--is largely arable." Avar Kriss sends Sskeer and Ceret to Sedri, telling them to take the T-1, and asks Keeve and Terec to remain on the Hutt vessel and await the arrival of Kriss herself and Vernestra Rwoh (from the middle grade novel A Test of Courage!!! - just as a refresher, she's one of the youngest Jedi Knights ever, having been knighted at the age of 15, although at this point in the story she's 16) in the Ataraxia.
What Sskeer and Ceret find on Sedri isn't good...a colony of people who say Jedi are not welcome and what appears to be vicious, hungry plants??... With Ceret disappeared and Sskeer on a rampage, things look super dire for our main characters.
-Sskeer yells out in surprise with "Surik's Blade!"
-Terec says "Dank Farrik"!!! ...in response to Sskeer having annihilated the surviving Nihil.
-Bacta is touted as "the miracle salve that's replacing Rejuv."
-The adult who "greets" Sskeer and Ceret on Sedri is named Kalo Sulman.
So there was a LOT of detail in this one issue and I believe this detail is going to be setting us up for all sorts of different things throughout the High Republic publishing campaign. In regards to this series alone, I'm anxious as all get out to find out what is going to happen with the rage and anger building inside of Sskeer. And I'm also nervous to find out what happened to Ceret on Sedri! Was it a plant?? Was it a weird beastie?? What took him and why do the colonists hate Jedi?? I'm simply fascinated in that everything looks terrible but I just can't stop looking kind of way.
MY SCORE: 9/10 because all the incredible detail and care that went into creating this world and building out these characters has me all sorts of super excited!!
"The High Republic #2: There is No Fear, Chapter II: Tomb in Space" written by Cavan Scott, illustrated by Ario Anindito, Mark Morales, and Annalisa Leoni
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