Star Wars – The High Republic #4: Balance of the Force – Chapter IV: The Herald of the Open Hand
Before a blast went off, Jedi Vildar Mac saw a strange sight. He saw Tey Sirrek and a bomb. After the attack Tey is captured by the Guardians of the Whills. As he come to, Jedi Mac wants answers. Meanwhile, the great Convocation begins.
After a few months, Phase II of “The High Republic” is in full swing. That is an easy claim to make since there has been a main adult line novel, a YA novel, a kid’s book, an audio drama, and two separate comic series from two different publishers dedicated to it. As each very different tale goes on the separate casts of characters are all always driven to one spot. That place is Jedha, the Pilgrim’s Moon. As with each of the three waves of material in the first “High Republic” series, there is always a central massive event that connects them all. The first series’ major events included a hyperspace disaster, an invasion at a galactic fair, and the slow destruction of a major space station. This phase II wave revolves around “The Battle of Jedha” which is also the name of Audible’s “High Republic” audio drama that deals with the event directly.
This series started out on Jedha, whereas the others did not. That almost implies this is the main storyline, and the other interlocking stories just catch up to it.
As clearly connected and integral this issue is to this second phase epic, it also connects a ton of references to other “Star Wars” series. The setting is certainly an obvious reference to Jedha’s appearance hundreds of years later chronologically in the film Rogue One, as are the Guardians of the Whills. The Guardians are much fuller than they were in that film, also at a high point in their history like the Jedi are in this era. Another neat almost backward reference is the presence of an old danger from the first “High Republic” series, which is odd since that series takes place over a hundred years later. The most impressive direct reference is the Herald of the Open Hand from the YA novel, “Path of Deceit.” He was a major character in it, but further than that his group, The Open Hand, is making its way to being the main troublemaker in this era. Other works have also mentioned them as well as their leader, Mother. Another character, Yarna Ro, silently sits in the background of some scenes just so those who might recognize her would do just that. It’s a reward of sorts for those who have followed the other “High Republic” Phase II material this far.
The colors really pop in this issue. The more pastel-looking colors seem a bit brighter in this issue like the series coming into sharper focus. This is most likely due to the fact that this issue doesn’t have a lot of action. It revolves around a convention of Force religions so there is a lot to discuss. The Herald’s speech also makes for more words and less action. Detailed art and dynamic character poses to add some needed visual excitement and all that dialog only enhances the overall story through exposition. The Herald is presented in a natural way that will remind those who know this character already what he is about as well as to introduce those concepts to readers meeting him for the first time.
This series would do well to continue this trend of slowly bringing in more of the major characters from the overall larger series to help make them more well-rounded. The first one accomplished that so well that readers who, for whatever reasons don’t read comics, felt like they were missing out. They were. This series seems to be following that same pattern.
Now that The Convocation is in full chaotic swing, its impossible to know what will happen next. A large assembly of Force users gathered in one place might be too tempting to pass up if one were to desire a galaxy with less Forces users in it.
Star Wars – The High Republic #4: A Gift Freely Given
- Writing - 8/108/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Art - 7/107/10
- Color - 7/107/10
- Cover Art - 7/107/10
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