The latest entry to the High Republic publishing line, Charles Soule, Guillermo Sanna, and Jim Campbell’s Eye of the Storm takes us back before Starlight Beacon, the Great Disaster, and the Nihil launching their attacks on the Republic as we explore the backstory of their leader, the Eye of the Nihil himself; Marchion Ro.
Marchion’s backstory and the founding of the Nihil has been teased from the very beginning with Light of the Jedi and while we’ve had little tidbits here and there, they’ve largely remained a mystery. Eye of the Storm begins to answer those questions as we discover the truth behind Marchions species and explore what made him the scourge of the Outer Rim that he is today, although if you’ve just finished The Fallen Star and were hoping for answers to the Nihil’s big secret, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a little bit longer. It seems Soule is keeping the big reveals for issue 2 with the first more focused on Marchion himself.
As a big fan of the High Republic era, having read/listened to nearly every story we’ve had so far, I loved seeing the gaps in the story of Marchion Ro and the Nihil begin to be filled. While the first act of this story may be a slower start focused more on Marchion than the mysteries High Republic fans are dying for answers to, he remains a fascinating character who only becomes more interesting as we learn more about him. But “filling the gaps” is exactly what this book does, and without having read the other books or listened to Cavan Scott’s Tempest Runner, I worry Eye of the Storm won’t feel like a complete story. Its 3 scene structure jumps around many key events in Marchion’s past that readers have seen glimpses of before, but without the bigger picture, these could feel disconnected and unsatisfying. While an important story to be told in the High Republic, it’s definitely not standalone and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who hasn’t at least read the main trilogy of Del Rey books.
I initially wasn’t sure that the art team on the book was the right fit, but with a more minimalist, almost cartoony style, Sanna and Campbell bring these characters we’ve mostly only seen on the written page to life perfectly and they deliver some truly haunting visuals, specifically a final splash page that left me absolutely stunned and terrified (which seems to be a recurring theme in this High Republic phase so far). There’s some brilliant design work from the team too as we see Marchion’s home planet, one of the most unique and fascinating Star Wars planets I’ve seen, and we get to see how things like the Nihil Path Drives actually look. They deliver some fantastic character work too with Marchion Ro and we really see the cold, calculating threat he’s been portrayed as so far shine through, even from a young age.
While not a great standalone entry, as we begin to take The High Republic Phase 1 to a close Eye of the Storm starts to answer the questions that fans have had from the very beginning and continues to make Marchion Ro an even more interesting villain while promising even more to come in its second issue. For those who are following this era, Eye of the Storm is a great addition that I have a feeling will become essential in its second and final issue.