“For the Moment, Let’s Call it Home” – Embodying Queerness in The High Republic Adventures

It was the dress rehearsal dinner for my cousin’s wedding. Casual clothes for everyone in attendance; it was a hot California day, with a grimy rock outcropping just beyond the grassy seating area.

I’d managed to play chicken with my mother to get my hair cut shorter than my jawline. My shirt was baggy enough to conceal the growing chest I fought by way of multiple sports bras. And so as a gaggle of boys scrambled their way to the outcropping to play, I raced after. It was the age of cooties and “no girls allowed”, so my name I kept locked behind my teeth. They never asked and they never noticed.

I bounded up to my mother afterwards, saying how much fun it was that they all treated me like a boy.

Things like this were what made adults in my life terrified that I’d grow up to be a lesbian. I wasn’t allowed to cut my hair like the boys because People Would Think Things™. “I’m not gay”, I would say years later to gasps of relief, only to add, “but I don’t want to be perceived as a girl.”

Oh, the reassurances rushed in – there’s so many ways to be a woman, you don’t have to be girly – but the fact remained. Young or old, gathering with extended family or browsing the feminine product aisle at Walmart, being mistaken for a boy felt like home.

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On Disobedience and The High Republic Adventures

St. Augustine is one of the most influential figures in all of Christian history. His writings have impacted Catholicism and the various scattered denominations of Protestantism alike. Even in my charismatic and evangelical faith, Augustine was a name to be respected.

Augustine believed in the theology of “original sin” – that the choice of Adam and Eve to disobey God in the Garden of Eden created an inherent corruption in all of humanity. That we are born with that original sin still within us and, if left to our own devices, will gravitate toward evil. Augustine therefore placed an immense amount of importance on hierarchical authority and on obedience thereto. [1]Tokar, Nicholas. Augustine on Obedience and Authority. 2012. Such a theology also gave Augustine himself the ability to assert authority on and demand obedience from those lower in the hierarchy. Augustine’s sermon “On Obedience” was written in-part to shame a congregation who had been expecting an apology for his arrogant behavior. [2]Brown, Peter. Through the Eye of a Needle. 2012. If God created all earthly authorities, than disobeying anyone in authority was the same as disobeying God.

Within such a theology, obedience itself becomes the paramount virtue. It takes precedence over courage, compassion, and justice. It is better to obey than to right a wrong.

I use this example from Christianity in this matter because that’s my house; this religion is where I make my bed. It was the first and loudest place that I encountered this lesson as a child. But the virtue of obedience was not spoken of just within church boundaries. Many of our fairy tales are designed to teach obedience. Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother get eaten because she disobeys. The children in Pinocchio are turned into donkeys for not being “good.” Beauty and the Beast was used at one point in its long history to encourage the obedience of young girls with regard to arranged marriages. How many boogeymen in our cultures exist specifically for the purpose of scaring children into obeying their parents?

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1 Tokar, Nicholas. Augustine on Obedience and Authority. 2012.
2 Brown, Peter. Through the Eye of a Needle. 2012.

The Function of Laughter in The High Republic Adventures

I’m going to confess something: comedy is not my thing. I don’t dislike comedy; I don’t dislike laughing. I don’t think everything should be grim, dark, and edgy. But I have a hard time understanding comedy, on a technical level. I have a hard time picking it apart, peering inside to see how it functions. I’ve tried. I’ve read books and articles on how to write comedy, but it’s still this black box in storytelling that eludes me. Maybe it’s the autism.

I think this is why I took so much longer to put words to issue #2 of The High Republic Adventures than issue #1. Because everyone already said it. From the early reviews to the general reader response: it’s a laugh riot. I myself howled, out loud, a multitude of times. It’s hilarious. What more is there to say?

Comedy is not my thing.

But I also know that comedy itself is a form of storytelling. It requires pacing, setup, payoff, emotional buy-in. It’s why it’s so common for good comedic actors to also be good at drama. It’s why Jordan Peele, who made his name in sketch comedy, delivers quality horror again and again.

So I didn’t want to just dismiss this issue from analysis because it was funny. As much as I struggle with understanding the way comedy functions, issue #2 is still art. It’s still craft. There’s still an entire creative team that put effort into making this a cohesive story, that moves the story forward and reveals elements of our characters. There is still a function…

…a narrative function. Now that is something I do understand. I can’t break apart a joke and tell you how it works. But maybe I can tell you where the jokes fit with the other story elements. And I see three narrative functions that comedy plays in The High Republic Adventures issue #2.

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Sav Malagán, Community, & Identity – A Queer Lens on The High Republic Adventures

Content Warning: spoilers for Adventures #1 and discussions of real-world queerphobic violence

Maybe it’s because I’m queer. Maybe it’s because of Lula, Zeen, Kantam, the very queerness of The High Republic Adventures Phase I run. But ever since we received the preview of a young, gremlin Sav Malagán in the first issue of Phase II, saying this about Maz Kanata’s castle –

“I head to a place where no one bugs me about meditating or following rules, where I can be whoever I want, whatever I want, or even disappear. The only place I can really be myself.”

– I can’t stop thinking, “queer bar.”

Now that we have the full comic, it’s embedded in my perspective. I do not know if writer Daniel José Older or artist Toni Bruno intended this reading, but for me as an aromantic asexual trans man, it felt inescapable.

We join Sav Malagán on the sidelines of this queer bar, watching the various characters who represent the person she wants to become. She tells herself their stories and hopes one day to be counted among them. The pirate outfit she dons at the beginning is perhaps even inspired by one of these elder queers she idolizes; the one she scampers after to learn about how she can live her full identity.

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The Dexter Jettster Renaissance: Twenty Years of a Literary Classic

In 2002, we were blessed with a scoundrel of a space cook with an arm gimmick, a ready grin, and a menacing chuckle. Dexter Jettster – the one-scene wonder of Jedi Quest #2: The Trail of the Jedi.

Oh, and also of some movie, I suppose.

While created and developed for Attack of the Clones, the Besalisk actually debuted in Legends literature. His first appearance came a month and a half before the film’s release, in Jude Watson’s middle-grade series Jedi Quest. Though the movie would obviously make a bigger impact, this pulp-fiction book set the stage for how Dex would grow into a more complex character: through literature.

Over the course of the Legends Expanded Universe, Dex would make enough scattered appearances across novels, comics, and magazines that certain character traits began taking root outside of the movie. Traits that held a distinct similarity to a literary classic.

In 2002, we were blessed with another scoundrel of a space cook with an arm gimmick, a ready grin, and a menacing chuckle. Long John Silver – the villain of Disney’s Treasure Planet.

Oh, and also of some novel, I suppose.

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