NYCC 2020: WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT STAR WARS: THE HIGH REPUBLIC
Imagine the Star Wars you know and love set within a brand new era of storytelling. It's ripe with new knowledge of the Force, hyperspace exploration, and dangers unknown at the edges of the Outer Rim: this is the High Republic.
Thursday evening, Lucasfilm Publishing kicked off its presence at this year's virtual New York Comic Con with the panel, The Great Disaster Hits!, featuring authors Cavan Scott, Claudia Gray, Charles Soule, Daniel José Older, and Justina Ireland along with Michael Siglain, the Creative Director of Lucasfilm Publishing.
Although the High Republic largely remains hidden behind a veil of secrecy, the creative team revealed just enough to hold us over through the end of the year.
Here are the top five things we learned:
1. The Force is more intimate than ever
The Force gives a Jedi their power, but that connection is not a universally shared experience.
“We have really tried to lean into the idea that every Jedi has their own connection to the Force and that allows them to experience it in their own way, which has really been great for storytelling,” Soule said.
Avar Kriss, the central character in Soule's Light of the Jedi, leads the Order's response to the Great Disaster and perceives the Force as music, calling it the "Song of the Force."
"For her, all the different Jedi have their own tones and instruments and it all comes together into this great symphony of dissonance and assonance, and all these beautiful things that she’s able to perceive—the way the Force connects all things as music," Soule said.
Light of the Jedi's other titular character, Burryaga Agaburry, is a Wookiee who senses the Force in a more natural sense, as if he were a leaf on a large tree in a much larger forest.
Vernesta Rwoh, a newly minted Jedi Knight who already feels the high demands of the job, sees the Force as a river in Justina Ireland's A Test of Courage.
Lula, a Padawan instructed under Yoda's tutelage in Daniel José Older's The High Republic Adventures, has an ever-evolving relationship with the Force as if it were a mountain needing to be climbed.
For Keeve Trennis and Reath Silas, however, they have a more challenging relationship with the Force: Keeve, the first character designed for the High Republic and included in Cavan Scott's The High Republic comic, is trying to weave her own thread into a much larger cosmic tapestry; Reath, meanwhile, dedicates himself to finding a pattern among the Force's strengths and delicacies in Claudia Gray's Into the Dark.
It's clear the creative team is allowing these new Jedi to live and breath on their own, and each of their unique metatextual connections to the Force underscores that. It also foreshadows what's to come in their stories, according to Ireland.
2. The Great Disaster explained
Michael Siglain detailed more of the beginning stages of the "Great Disaster," which rattles the galaxy to its core during an age of great prosperity. The inciting moment centers around the Legacy Run, a cargo ship hauling supplies and carrying people into the Outer Rim. When it finds itself on a collision course with a mysterious object in hyperspace, the ship's contents become scattered across the surrounding planets.
This first phase of the High Republic then offers up differing perspectives of the Great Disaster, such as Yoda and his Padawans answering the call to action and jumping into the thick of the conflict.
"There are valuable lessons to be learned and there are lives at stake," Older said. "That's when Yoda is at his best."
3. Lightsabers from a more civilized age
Whether it's Burryaga's robust two-handed DIY hilt or Vern's purple blade that pays respect to the one-and-only Mace Windu, the High Republic will not be short on a variety of lightsabers.
"We had the opportunity in the High Republic, in all of our storytelling, to design all these really personal weapons to each person," Soule said. "That alone is a Star Wars dream come true."
Even though the Jedi will wield a new arsenal of laser swords (which will keep cosplayers busy for years to come), others, such as Reath Silas, are pacifists at heart.
“His ideal would be never to have to pull that from his belt, ever," Gray said. "He is not somebody who is going to turn to combat as the first or second or third way to try and solve a situation. That said, when he does have to turn to it, he does not hesitate.”
4. Cute creatures incoming!
It wouldn't be Star Wars without cute creatures, and the High Republic is already delivering on the softer aspects.
Older unveiled Cham-Cham, who (strangely enough) is a mix between a pig, bat, and scorpion.
"Every Cuban has a tia who has a chihuahua that will kill anything nearby and destroy an entire family if it needs to, but it's really cute and it'll pee on stuff too—that's Cham-Cham," Older said. "You want to cuddle him, but you don't wanna get maimed by him and torn apart."
Soule also introduced a new dog-like creature named Ember, who has a reddish-orange coloration and is befriended by the Jedi during the journey.
5. This is only the beginning...
Saving the best for last, Siglain announced a second wave of High Republic content.
Starting in December, original fiction returns to the Star Wars Insider magazine starting with a High Republic story written by Charles Soule.
Coming Summer 2021, Cavan Scott will pen the next adult novel for Del Rey Publishing while Justina Ireland and Daniel José Older will publish young-adult and middle-grade novels, respectively, for Disney-Lucasfilm Press.
"We realize what we're trying to do, [and] we realize what we have to live up to," Siglain said. "What we started with was the very simple question of, 'What do we love about Star Wars?' That's what we want to see in these books and that's what we're trying to do: to show the Jedi at their height [and] to show that golden age through many different lenses for all sorts of fans."
The High Republic launches on January 5, 2021.
Stay tuned for more coverage on the High Republic here at Friends of the Force.
Watch the entire panel here: