Before it was titled The High Republic, Lucasfilm Publishing's major innitiative was known to fans as only Project Luminous. Announced during Star Wars Celebration 2019 in Chicago, it was revealed that five authors of highly praised Star Wars works would comprise the all-star team tasked with crafting the ambitious narrative. Among those names was Charles Soule, the man responsible for many of Marvel Comics' most popular Star Wars runs to date.
Outside of a few successful mini-series, it was Soule's Darth Vader (2018) line that brought the writer to prominence. After tackling the Sith Lord's complicated psyche in the immediate aftermath of Revenge of the Sith, Soule was tapped to tell another critical story about a fallen Jedi: The Rise of Kylo Ren. This followed the demise of Luke Skywalker's Jedi Temple and Ben Solo's turn to the dark side.
Now, Soule is a busy, busy man. In addition to his work in The High Republic's narrative (including a novel and several comics), the author is penning the ongoing Star Wars (2020) series and a trilogy of minis for Marvel that started with War of the Bounty Hunters and currently being continued by Crimson Reign.
With his fingerprints all over the timeline of the Star Wars canon, Soule has the opportunity to refer to entities separated by hundreds of years and bind the galaxy together. In the next issue of Star Wars, Luke Skywalker will once again come into contact with something familiar to fans - a Jedi Master of a more civilized age.
Luke Skywalker Meets The High Republic's Elzar Mann
Star Wars released a preview for Star Wars (2020) Issue #20, featuring Luke Skywalker's continued quest for Jedi knowledge. After landing on the world Gazian, the hero is pulled through the surface and comes face to face with who appears to be none other than Jedi Master Elzar Mann:
During The High Republic Anniversary Special, author Charles Soule teased that he'll be working on a comic series that ties into his previous work:
"I have a project in Phase 2 that I'm extremely excited about that ties into storytelling for Star Wars that I've been doing for years, for five, six years."
What's That Mann Doing There?
The Jedi path is generally full of bizarre experiences, but Luke's journey has been exceptionally weird.
When whacky training for the Son of Skywalker gets brought up, the natural thing to consider is his experience in the cave on Dagobah. But since then, Luke has faced a somehow living Grand Inquisitor in an ancient Jedi outpost, had his hand used to create Supreme Leader Snoke (unbeknownst to him), and he's now encountered a Jedi Master of an era over 200 years in the past.
It's clear that the Elzar Mann seen in the preview is some sort of apparition. Beyond the obvious reason for why it can't physically be him, Luke is donning his early Rebel attire and is in possession of his father's lightsaber. Chronologically, Anakin's weapon should be somewhere depth within the bowels of Cloud City at this point, and Luke is temporarily making use of an old yellow Temple Guard weapon.
What purpose Mann will serve in Luke's story is a mystery. The preview cuts short in the middle of Elzar's sentence about the lightsaber, but his proficiency with such a weapon should not go unmentioned. As a Jedi Master, Mann was one of the strongest warriors in the Order, making quick work of Nihil attackers with his own blade at the Republic Fair during The Rising Storm.
Much like Luke and his father before him, Elzar deals with a significant amount of internal turmoil and has a tendency to tap into darkness. Part of Luke's journey is learning to confront and let go of his fears, and a meeting with someone who experienced similar struggles is sure to push him closer toward the Jedi Knight fans know in Return of the Jedi.
With Soule noting that his upcoming work will tie in to his previous Star Wars projects, it shouldn't come as a surprise that his current releases are doing so as well. The Jedi outpost where Luke collected his new lightsaber and dueled the Inquisitor was also from the High Republic era, and another mainstay of the publishing front, Jedi Master Avar Kriss, actually made her first appearance in a holocron in The Rise of Kylo Ren.
Elzar Mann is perhaps the most complex and intriguing Jedi introduced in The High Republic, and Soule may be using Star Wars #20 to establish more growth for the character in ways still unseen. The Mann seen in the preview is a bit older than he is in Phase 1 of The High Republic, but the Temple robes and face are distinctive. Luke Skywalker may be set to learn one of his biggest lessons yet, and from a man who's likely also learned it himself.
Star Wars #20 hits shelves on January 12.