This article contains spoilers for The Blade #1.
Porter Engle is a bad cook. At least, he was in his younger days.
Luckily for our Phase I High Republic friends, the famed Jedi–nicknamed the Blade of Bardotta–gets better at making stew. Star Wars: The High Republic–The Blade #1, written by Charles Soule with art by Marco Castiello, proves that Porter Engle gets better at many things with practice. Especially his lightsaber tactics.
This first issue of a 4-part miniseries continues Phase II of The High Republic multi-media project. The Blade features Porter Engle, a Jedi introduced in the first phase of THR, with a cool nickname and mysterious origins. In this comic series, Soule shows us what, exactly, this Ikkrukkian is capable of.
The comic opens with an image of Engle, eyes closed, with two knives floating above him. (Fitting for the Blade, I’d say.) “The Force is always with you,” he says. “You are never alone.” Cut to the next page–Engle is chopping ingredients to make stew, which ends up being spat out in disgust by an unwitting taster.
This delightful opening shows that Soule knows his audience, and subverts their expectations to set a tone for Engle’s good-humored character. Star Wars fans are trained to expect action, so the appearance of floating knives that end up simply chopping veggies is hilarious. Long-time High Republic fans will associate Engle with the constant baked goods he offers to other Jedi. Along with the realization Engle is cooking comes the expectation that the stew will be delicious. Again, we are delighted to find out that it’s horrible. These first few pages are a cheeky nod and wink to fans, and immediately sets The Blade apart for its clever writing.
And then, of course, readers do get the action-packed fight sequence they’ve been hoping for. We’ve been looking forward to it since the exclusive preview released last week. Engle settles a local dispute on a planet called The Boneworld in a quick show of skill on a gorgeous splash page. The art by Castiello is all overlapping panels and closeups of sabers, guns, and the sabacc cards Engle uses to show his skill and accuracy. He deflects the blasts through the middle of each card to show off. (The drama.) This action happens in the blink of an eye, like something straight out of a Western. I could almost hear the 5-note pipe trill before the standoff.
The Blade #1 introduces us to Engle’s sister, Barash Silvain. Fans fell in love with her after the preview dropped, especially for her quiet, brooding demeanor and minimal astute interjections. Along with a few more panels of Barash’s white hair and piercing green eyes, Soule gives us a flashback to their first meeting. A friendly Porter coaxes Barash into “trying to be friends”, and she insists that’s it. But if Barash is introduced as Porter’s sister, one has to wonder: How did they become so close? I look forward to finding out in the upcoming issues.
The ending also offers a glimpse of exciting action to come. Porter and Barash accept a mission on a remote planet called Gansevor, on which “a fortress city is besieged by an army from a rival faction.” With no further information, the two Jedi set out to settle this dispute without knowing what’s in store. And from the last image of a half-destroyed city surrounded by troops, it’s nothing good…
The Blade #1 was one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and it definitely delivered. This comic promises an action-packed story and introduced characters that are sure to become fan favorites. If the next 3 issues are as compelling as the first, Star Wars: The High Republic–The Blade could become one of the best High Republic miniseries, up in the ranks with Eye of the Storm and Trail of Shadows.
The Blade #2 releases January 25, 2023.
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