Star Wars' Deadliest Jedi Killer's Latest Attack May Reveal How to Stop It

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Charles Soule's Star Wars: The High Republic: The Light of the Jedi, Cavan Scott's Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm, and Star Wars: The High Republic #11, on sale now from Marvel Comics.

In the second wave of the Star Wars: The High Republic subseries, one of the greatest threats to the Jedi has proven to be the Great Leveler, The Leveler is a mysterious, ancient beast currently controlled by the Nihil. The creature seems to feed on fear through the Force and mainly seems to affect those who are Force-sensitive. An encounter with the Great Leveler has the power to inflict serious psychic trauma and also turn its victims to stone.

Despite the terror that the Great Leveler inspires, the beast does seem to have limits. In the beast's two main attacks against the Jedi, there have been some survivors, including Elzar Mann, Padawan Bell Zettifar, and most recently Keeve Trennis. The survivors' accounts show the extensive psychological scars that the leveler inflicts. However, by comparing their experiences, the audience can also possibly start to figure out some clues as to how the Jedi might finally defeat the Great Leveler.

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Elzar Mann's Visions Predicted the Great Leveler's Return

At the end of Charles Soule's Star Wars: The High Republic: The Light of the Jedi, Elzar Mann had a vision of the future that predicted the return of the Great Leveler. The narrator states, "Awful visions flashed before his eyes, things he could not understand, cast in a sickly purple light. Jedi, many he knew, friends and colleagues, horribly mutilated, fighting battles they could not win against awful things that lived in the dark. Things that lived in the deep. The Jedi, those who survived, were fleeing. Not retreating, fleeing." As the vision continues, Elzar concludes the worst part of the future he sees is the fear he sees echoed throughout every Jedi's face. While this vision could also apply to the Drengir, the focus on terror makes it more likely that Elzar was receiving a warning from the Force about the Great Leveler's rise.

In Cavan Scott's Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm, Elzar continues to struggle with these visions. While he believes that they are foretelling another wave of Nihil attacks on Valo, the connection to the Great Leveler becomes clear when he and a group of other Jedi attempt to capture the Nihil's leaders on Grizal. In his Vector, Elzar sees the Great Leveler from far away. The narrator states, "for a second, Elzar thought he saw something else, something hunkered down on all fours, throwing itself from the airlock." Then, Elzar is overcome with his visions once more and crashes his Vector. However, because Elzar was so far away, he was not as affected by the Great Leveler's attacks, which shows that while the creature's psychic powers can travel far, their power lessens with distance.

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Bell Zettifar Was the First Jedi to Encounter the Great Leveler Up Close and Live

Throughout Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm, Padawan Bell Zettifar struggles with the apparent loss of his master, Loden Greatstorm. While Ember, his charhound, serves as an anchor for Bell in his grief, he still senses that Loden is alive somewhere. By the end of the novel, Bell learns that he was right, and he rescues Loden from the Nihil. However, their reunion is abruptly cut short when Marchion Ro releases the Great Leveler.

When the Great Leveler attacks, Bell's jumbled perceptions of reality show the psychological basis of the creature's attacks. Bell feels as though the world is falling away. He loses his sense of self and all perception of reality. The narrator explains, "Mist swirled around him, filling his chest, his skull, his soul. It was thicker than any war cloud, denser than any fog. And there were teeth inside, teeth and claws and eyes and death." While Bell perceives the Great Leveler as a physical creature, the actual attack is more mental. The narrator explains, "it ripped through him, consuming everything he thought he was and everything he had yet to become. It was uncontrollable, a horror beyond name or understanding, and it was hungry." Bell feels powerless against the Great Leveler and cannot fight back against its attacks through the Force.

While Bell perceives the Great Leveler as an unstoppable, uncontrollable force, his survival shows that this is not the case. The Great Leveler's attack calcifies Loden, and later Loden crumbles to ash, showing just how deadly the Great Leveler can be. However, Bell was right beside Loden and survived without any physical damage, though the psychological scars run deep. Bell's survival could be attributed to his connection with Ember and her unwavering protection of him. However, his survival also suggests that while the collateral damage of the Great Leveler's attacks can have a large range, the Leveler can only truly focus on one target at a time. While Bell is left traumatized, he still is alive, and therefore there is hope that he will be able to recover and help the Jedi overcome the Great Leveler in the future.

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Keeve Trennis' Survival Might Confirm the Great Leveler's Limitations

Keeve Trennis becomes one of the latest survivors of the Great Leveler’s attacks in Star Wars: The High Republic #11 by Cavan Scott, Georges Jeanty, Carlos Lopez, Karl Story, Victor Olazaba, and VC's Travis Lanham. Like Bell, Keeve is not the Great Leveler's main target. Instead, the creature focuses on Terec, a Kotabi Jedi. Terec might have been saved by their connection with their twin, Ceret, because they seem to have shared the brunt of the Great Leveler's attacks. However, both twins' fates are currently uncertain as they are not conscious and may have entered a hibernation state for their own protection. Thus, Keeve is the only conscious survivor of the latest attack.

Because the comic series is a visual medium, the reader is able to see more of how the Great Leveler's attacks look from Keeve's perspective. While the creature is attacking, Keeve tries to remind herself that "there is no fear," but the familiar proclamation quickly morphs into "there is only fear" as the attack continues. She does perceive spindly legs for the creature, but she also sees the attack on Terec as turning Terec inside out and possibly melting them. She sees the Great Leveler as "the thing in the box that should not exist" and hides in fear. After Keeve's former mentor Sskeer arrives to save Keeve and Terec, she reveals that she does not remember most of the attack, only the horror she felt. Keeve's inability to remember what happened could be her brain protecting her from the horror she witnessed, but she probably will continue grappling with that horror as the comic series continues.

Therefore, analyzing Keeve, Bell, and Elzar’s experiences during the Great Leveler's attacks shows the creature's current limitations. While the Great Leveler's psychic powers can stretch over vast distances, their power seems to weaken from farther away. The Leveler also only seems to be able to fully attack one person at a time, which means that it cannot fell entire Jedi armies in a single psychic burst. The Jedi may be able to use its limited focus to plan their attack on the creature, and by studying the effects on the survivors, they might be able to figure out a way to block its psychic energy. Thus, the Great Leveler is horrifying nightmare fuel, but the Jedi may be able to find a way to use these limitations to defeat the creature and end the Nihil's reign of terror in the Outer Rim.

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Jennifer Roy (230 Articles Published)

Jennifer Roy is a children's literature scholar and a freelance writer. She currently is focusing on writing content for CBR. She received her Ph. D. in English in 2020. A common thread of her scholarly work is a focus on the use of adaptation and particular motifs to tell and retell stories. You can find her on twitter at @jen_d_roy.

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