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After the conclusion of the arc “There is No Fear “, Marvel’s The High Republic #6 kicks off the new “Heart of the Drengir ” storyline. The last issue left us at a crossroads with an uneasy alliance formed between the Hutts and the Jedi, the Drengir pushed back on Starlight Beacon and frontier planets across the galaxy, and Sskeer paid the price for this, using his connection to the Drengir as a way to send them into hiding. Let’s see what’s changed!
A few months have passed since the previous issue and the frontier worlds are being attacked by the plant-like Drengir, who were merely delayed by Sskeer’s sacrifice. But where there is darkness, the Jedi appear…
…..accompanied by the Hutts. The alliance continues, despite the two groups obvious moral differences. The relationship is complicated, not something all the Jedi agree with, but with Jedi Avar Kriss as its founder it’s allowed to continue. We are told by Maru, head of operations aboard Starlight Beacon, that the partnership is yielding results and slowing down the progress of the Drengir on multiple worlds.
Unfortunately, Sskeer has not woken up since his sacrifice last issue and the hive-minded Drengir still have a hold on him. The only thing keeping it at bay is the stasis field. His former Padawan Keeve Trennis has not left his side.
Avar Kriss is overwhelmed on Daivak and calls in reinforcements from all Jedi personnel on the Beacon, including Trennis. Her refusal to leave her former master forces a decision: letting down the stasis field. She believes Sskeer’s connection to the Drengir is the key to both fighting this threat and saving his life.
This instantly seems like a bad idea as the vines take hold and possess her. Telepathy is a weird thing, however, it’s something that works both ways, and she finds herself in a visual representation of the ‘root mind that connects all Drengir‘ along with Sskeer; essentially a mind palace for the alien creature.
Since the start of this comic we’ve only seen a traumatized Sskeer. We see a few flashbacks and he appears briefly in the Light of the Jedi novel but most of what we’ve seen as readers is a harsh, even scared, Trandoshan who lost a friend in combat, an arm, an apprentice (as Trennis became a Knight), and a weakening connection to the force. We’ve never seen him as the person Trennis seems to defend and claim he is. All this makes this next moment more powerful upon their reunion in this odd and unfamiliar place.
It’s always nice to see the warmer side of the Jedi, not all those that break the rules end up slaughtering younglings. The two realize that they need to find the heart of the Drengir, or the first seed that started them all. Finding its location would allow them to vanquish it in the real world.
The duo aren’t strong enough to find the heart’s location, it’s resisting them. However with the help of others they can succeed.
With the others on the station summoning the Force as well, Sskeer and Trennis are able to grab the roots attacking them as they retreat, dragging the two to the location of the heart.
Face to face with such an insurmountable foe probing their mind they realise it’s time to turn the tables,
Trennis is able to see inside the Drengir’s mind just for a moment.
Trennis is about to get hurt, which Sskeer will not stand for, summoning all his strength and severing both of their connections with the Drengir.
Luckily Trennis was able to find the name of the planet and carve it into her armour.
The planet is deep in wild space, so the next issue is going to be one of high adventure and exploration!
This issue was a little weaker than the previous ones, particularly with the art. The last arc had some of the most unique and striking artwork of any Star Wars comic, this one just feels standard and odder the longer you look at character’s faces. While this is the start of a new arc it is definitely not a place to jump on for new readers with a lot of the issue getting it’s context from the first five issues.
The storyline is very engaging however, and taking place over what appears to be a few minutes keeps the action exciting the pages turning at lightning speed. This is worthy setup for the rest of the arc and Cavan Scott’s exploration of the hive mind of the Drengir is very intriguing and not something explored too often in Star Wars. This series keeps going in unexpected directions: a surprise to be sure, but a very welcome one!
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