Star Wars: The High Republic has introduced a new kind of threat the Jedi Order must face: The Drengir. These amorphous plant-like beings have lain dormant out the Outer Rim territories, but due to the events of the novel Star Wars: The High Republic - Into The Dark, the Drengir are re-awakened and set their sights on one goal: consuming life. The first encounter between the High Republic Jedi and the Drengir left one of the youngest, brightest Jedi Knights shattered; in their next act of aggression, The Drengir have ostensibly "infected" several Jedi with their hive mind evil, taking control of them.
The Drengir's origins and connection to the dark side are still somewhat of an unfolding mystery in Star Wars: The High Republic; when High Republic comic writer Cavan Scott sat down with ComicBook.com's ComicBook Nation podcast, he elaborated a bit more on why the Drengir are a unique new threat in Star Wars lore.
When describing the Drengir, Cavan Scott said that The High Republic story group was fascinated with an idea inspired by Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: that there are portions of the natural world (in addition to living beings) that can be turned to the dark side:
"I think it comes, for me, the fascination comes from Empire Strikes Back when Luke is sent into The Emperor's trial and that place is drenched in the dark side," Scott explains. "And so I was always fascinated by the idea that the Force comes through the surroundings and the environment, and it is what binds everything together. And there are places that are light. There are also places that are dark. And that would run through everything - there would be nature that is, light and nature that is dark. And there would be environments that are light environments that dark."
As Cavan Scott points out, the idea of the Force being significantly bonded to specific natural places or environments is one that runs deep through Star Wars lore - and real life!
"We know this from legends and folklore. The Jedi Temple on Coruscant is built on a dark side site, which is what happened in the real world with a lot of churches: A lot of churches were built on areas where there was old pagan - or what we now call pagan - belief systems... and sacred places. So they were sanctified, which again... I've got a theology degree, I'm fascinated by folklore. That's the kind of stuff that I go off on. So I just love the idea that there is this creep and horror that the dark side through nature can get to people."
The other fun things that Drengir add to Star Wars, according to Scott? Some classic 'lost in the woods/jungle' horror:
"Yeah, it absolutely goes into that folk horror trope of being out in nature and being out in the forest and being out in the woods and the actual plants around you seem to be creeping towards you and... trying to grasp you. So, yeah, that, that was definitely where that came from."1comments
The idea of the dark side operating through nature is letting the creators of Star Wars: The High Republic play with all kinds of fun new ways things can go wrong for the Jedi - such as corrupting new trans twin characters Ceret and Terec into becoming the next big threat to their Jedi friends.
Star Wars: The High Republic comic is released monthly from Marvel Comics.