Warning! This post contains SPOILERS for Star Wars: The High Republic #1Star Wars’ new era of comics has been putting a key focus on alternatives to the Jedi Order and Sith Lords. With the galaxy being as big as it is, it makes sense that there would be other groups beyond the two classic factions seeking to study the powerful energy field that is the Force. As such, multiple new series have been putting a greater spotlight on those who perceive the Force in brand-new ways, including some who don’t subscribe to the typical light and dark binary.
Having formed hundreds and hundreds of years before the events of the Skywalker saga, the Jedi Order became the galaxy’s most prominent defenders, dedicating themselves to preserving the light side of the Force and establishing their allegiance to the Republic. In contrast, a group of Force-wielders embraced the power of the dark side and became lords over the Sith race, establishing an empire that was eventually dismantled after years of war with the Jedi as well as vicious in-fighting between Sith Lords vying for greater control, the dark side’s power eventually being consolidated within the Rule of Two with a single Sith master and an apprentice. However, the Jedi and Sith aren’t the only two groups out there, and Star Wars is beginning to explore the alternatives with a much bigger lens.
While groups such as the Guardians of the Whills and Church of Force have both been referenced in past films, comic series like the current Doctor Aphra series from Alyssa Wong and Minkyu Jung has introduced the ancient dark side cult known as the Ascendant, a sect of non-Force sensitives seeking to develop artificial devices to grant them equivalent power to the Sith and their ability to harness the dark side. Likewise, the new era for Star Wars: The High Republic goes back even further into the past from Cavan Scott and Ario Anindito, revealing a huge amount of alternate Force factions on the holy planet of Jedha: the Truthsayers of Bpfassh, Followers of the Black Eye, Sorcerers of Tund, the Fallanassi, Yacombe, Matukai, and more. While the Jedi are also present to oversee a meeting of unity between the groups, they don’t have the same kind of influence amidst the various voices attempting to speak of the Force’s behalf.
It should also be noted that the comics set in the original trilogy era have introduced the reborn crime syndicate Crimson Dawn led by Lady Qi’ra, dedicated to eliminating Palpatine and Darth Vader and thereby freeing the galaxy from the dark side’s control. Likewise, the new High Republic era has introduced the villainous Path of the Open Hand who believe the Force shouldn’t be manipulated at all. In just a short amount of time, there is now a wealth of light and dark factions beyond the Jedi and Sith, as well as plenty in between who exist between and beyond the binary.
Every era currently being published is focused on introducing alternative dark and light side groups, suggesting that now that the Skywalker Saga has concluded, the next era will look to other sects for its conflict. The expansion and evolution of the Force beyond the Jedi and Sith is really exciting to see, providing a fresh new take for the Star Wars stories to come. The High Republic #1 is on sale now.