Before George Lucas sold his crown jewel to Disney, there were extra works in the form of novels and comics that further explored Star Wars. Dubbed the Expanded Universe, fans were given a depth of stories for which the movies didn’t have the time.
At first, it seemed like it would be business as usual, the books would keep going, but it soon became apparent that Disney didn’t want to be saddled with those decades of continuity. In 2013 the Star Wars novel Crucible was released, ending over two decades of stories. The end of Dark Horse Publishing’s comic book arm of Star Wars soon followed, and what was promised to be cannon was done.
Nothing mattered if it wasn’t on film or TV.
With the Force Awakens in 2015, a new canon was being written, but I wasn’t going to be hurt again. With that erasure of decades, I understood how Anakin felt. I felt Dark Side rage, knowing that all the time and money I put into those previous books was now as intangible as a Force ghost. I’d watch the movies and shows, but I wouldn’t put money into the comics and books. That ship had jumped to lightspeed.
Time moved on, and new books came out, but as someone who covers nerdy spaces, I eventually had to write about a Star Wars property, specifically 2018’s Last Shot by Daniel José Older. And this might have been the best way back into the literary side of Star Wars for me.
And then came Project Luminous. Announced at NYCC in 2019, writers Claudia Gray, Justina Ireland, Daniel José Older, Cavan Scott, and Charles Soule would bring about a new chapter in the new Star Wars canon. By 2020 Project Luminous took on the title of the High Republic, and this series would occur about 200 years before the Skywalker saga and Jedi Master Mace Windu.
Crossing between novels and comics, the High Republic is a tightly interwoven storyline focusing on the Jedi and the expanding Republic of that era. Under the stewardship of these writers, we see a young, more diverse galaxy and, in terms of humans, more people of color. The following characters are just three that I’ve encountered as I’ve come back to that galaxy far, far, away.
Warning some slight spoilers ahead
Our character highlight starts with Padawan Bell Zettifar, a human male under the tutelage of the legendary Loden Greatstorm. Coming from the IDW YA comic The High Republic Adventures Annual 2021, Zettifar will later become intricate to the novels starting with The High Republic: Light of the Jedi, as part of the Jedi first responders to the Great Hyperspace Disaster. From there, they would become part of the contingent tasked with maintaining order on the outer rim planet of Elphrona. Zettifar would struggle to master the Jedi technique of slowing his descent. Still, soon he would have more significant worries as Elphorna’s Jedi answers a call for help that ends in capturing his master by the main protagonist of the series, the Nihil. By the second book in the series, The Rising Storm, we find him with a new master as the Jedi search for clues to the Nihil. He and his fire-breathing char hound, Ember, are instrumental in defense of several Nihil targets, as bit by bit, he becomes more confident in himself and his abilities with the Force.
The comic book series Star Wars: The High Republic is not to be overshadowed. Now published by Marvel Comics, we have newly knighted Keeve Trennis. She first appeared in the YA book The High Republic: A Test of Courage, but I wouldn’t discover her until the comic as this young Padawan faces her Jedi trials and is elevated to the status of Jedi Knight. She is part of the Jedi contingent stationed at Starlight Beacon. In the aftermath of the Great Hyperspace Disaster and the emergence of the Nihil as a deadly threat to the Republic and the Jedi, Trennis is also at the forefront of battling the Nihil. He also has to deal with the Hutts and go undercover on a mission to uncover the Nihil secret weapon that is crippling the Jedi. She quickly grows into the role of Jedi Knight, steadfast in her belief in the Light Side of the Force.
The final Jedi to be highlighted here is Jedi Master Emerick Caphtor. Another character to first appear in a YA book, The High Republic: Out of the Shadows, it’s a Marvel Comics The High Republic: Trail of Shadows, where we meet the Jedi Investigator tasked with uncovering the weapon that is crippling the Jedi. A seasoned Jedi, Caphtor must go where few Jedi travel, as he is partnered with the Chancellors’ private eye, search the galaxy’s underworld for clues to this weapon.
As much as I love Mace Windu, these few characters have helped me look to this series again as something I can get behind.
George Carmona 3rd is a contributing writer on comics and nerd culture for BlackSci-fi.com and Comics Beat. He is the author of the DC Super Friends Joke Book from Penguin Random House and a co-creator of the Access Guide to the Black Comic Book Community.