Inside Star Wars: The High Republic: Meet the Villains

In the spirit of Halloween, StarWars.com reveals the menacing monsters and marauders set to terrorize the Jedi in Lucasfilm’s upcoming epic.

In an exclusive series, StarWars.com is pulling back the curtain on Star Wars: The High Republic, a publishing epic set centuries prior to the events of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, with insights from creators, new details, and never-before-seen concept art. Arriving January 2021, the story will be explored through multiple voices and span adult and young adult novels, children’s books, and comics from a variety of publishers. In this installment, StarWars.com gets a first look at some of the starring villains. 

Halloween season is a time to celebrate all things creepy. Monsters and bogeymen and the unknown. The things that frighten us.

So it seemed like a perfect time to ask: What could possibly send chills down the spine of the galaxy’s protectors — during the peak of the Jedi Order — in Star Wars: The High Republic?

“One of the north stars for this initiative is to answer the question, ‘What scares the Jedi?’ Which is a really fun but extraordinarily challenging question to answer,” Lucasfilm Publishing creative director Michael Siglain tells StarWars.com. “All five authors, as well as the Story Group and Publishing teams, had thoughts on what would scare them — and why — but everyone agreed that had to be something new.”

And that “something new” would be frightening in any galaxy. Meet “the Drengir”: unsettling, amorphous beings, chock full of tentacles and teeth. In other words, pure Star Wars nightmare fuel.

“As the Jedi struggle to deal with the aftermath of the Great Disaster, a new creeping terror rises from the ground beneath their feet. The Drengir are sentient plant-life who are looking to reap a terrible harvest across the galactic frontier,” says Cavan Scott, writer of Marvel’s upcoming The High Republic series. “The seed for the vegetation-based villains came from a sketch by [legendary Star Wars concept artist] Iain McCaig in the early days of The High Republic’s development. Iain had been sketching monsters and there was one creature that was covered in vines and creepers. It sparked off the inspiration for what became the Drengir and I quickly fired off a document outlining what could be their culture and background to the rest of the group, drawing on research I’d been reading about how real-world plants thrive and communicate with each other.”

Scott, who is no stranger to mixing Star Wars and horror thanks to his terrifying tales in the Vader’s Castle comics, has particularly enjoyed giving life to these new adversaries.

“It’s been great to see the Drengir’s threat grow throughout the initiative,” says Scott. “They are one of my new favorite Star Wars monsters to write. They are sinister, unstoppable and, as we’ll find out, inescapably linked to the fate of one of our High Republic Jedi…”

But the Drengir aren’t the only danger to the Jedi and the galaxy.

“The Nihil are brutal, savage marauders, based in the Outer Rim,” says Charles Soule, writer of the novel Light of the Jedi. “They’re the stuff of nightmares, able to appear anywhere almost at will. They use bizarre, intimidating tactics — chemical weapons, poison — anything that might kill you, they’ll use.”

Unlike the monstrous Drengir, the Nihil plan and plot and have a power structure. Which might just make them even more terrifying in the end. “The Nihil are organized into three main divisions called Tempests, each with its own captain who wields total control,” says Soule. “They are frightening in a way that feels great for Star Wars, in part because their ‘code,’ if you can call it that, is so simple: the Nihil take what they want. If you stand in their way, they will kill you and everyone you love. But even chaos agents can have goals…and the Nihil’s plans run directly through both the Republic and the Jedi Order.”

One of the faces of the Nihil is Marchion Ro, who promises to be a great addition to the Star Wars tapestry of villains we love to hate.

“Marchion Ro holds an important post within the greater Nihil organization — he is the Eye of the Nihil, as was his father before him. He doesn’t give the orders — that’s up to the Tempest Runners — but in a very real way, everything revolves around him,” says Soule. “The things that make the Nihil more than just a bunch of Outer Rim raiders all come from Marchion. He is also, in every sense, a bad guy. And it’s been fantastic building someone around which to focus the darker elements of our High Republic story.”

“The Nihil are truly unlike any villain we’ve seen in Star Wars before,” adds Daniel José Older, writer of IDW Publishing’s The High Republic Adventures series. “I am really excited to go deep behind enemy lines in the IDW ongoing series and give readers a chance to learn about the inner workings of one of the most vicious, unyielding, and chaotic groups the galaxy has ever known.”

Get a first look at these Star Wars: The High Republic villains below.

Star Wars: The High Republic concept art - The Drengir

The Drengir

Star Wars: The High Republic concept art - The Nihil Star Wars: The High Republic concept art - The Nihil

The Nihil

Star Wars: The High Republic concept art - Machion ro

Marchion Ro

Visit Lucasfilm’s official hub for all things Star Wars: The High Republic at StarWars.com/TheHighRepublic.

For more on Star Wars: The High Republic, check out StarWars.com’s previous in-depth coverage:

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Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

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