While Star Wars stories have been adapted before using a manga style, the new Star Wars: High Republic: Edge of Balance is the first time that a brand new original story (within canon, of course) has been authorized and the results are impressive. Viz Media’s Star Wars: The High Republic manga series Edge of Balance by Shima Shinya, Justina Ireland, and Mizuki Sakakibara is a refreshing foray into a “galaxy, far, far away” and one that most Star Wars fans will be happy that they discover.
The story begins in a Jedi outpost on Banchii in the High Republic era and features young Jedi Knight Lily Tora-Asi. This Jedi, while young, is a capable leader and mentor to her own Padawan Keerin (as well as a whole host of child apprentices, not yet ready to grow the braid). The High Republic’s very own Wookie Jedi Master Arkoff (who also happens to be Tora-Asi’s teacher) appears in the story, as well as Jedi Knight Stellan Gios, but the star here is Tora-Asi.
Tora-Asi’s confidence is surprising for such a young character and while she naturally has doubts about how she will manage the refugee camp when her teachers leave Banchii, she seems like the one for the job.
As someone with very little knowledge of the new High Republic publishing initiative (which consists of multiple books and comic books for all age groups designed to bring the old days of the Jedi Order into view), I found the story to be engaging and not bogged down in connections to previous, and ongoing, stories. For those that are following the many stories currently taking place in this new extended universe, you will find some interesting connections and references to previous events, and for the novice, only a few google searches about the Nihil or the Drengir will quickly get you up to speed.
Edge of Balance is also engaging because while it is steeped in Star Wars tropes (light sabers, droids, the force, etc.) this is also a much smaller world, with a number of antagonists to deal with and ones that make it seem a bit different without the Empire or Sith to contend with.
Volume One ends in a intriguing place (and also includes a bonus story about some cute bird-like creatures) and firmly establishes itself as a strong Star Wars High Republic story, utilizing the manga medium and sensibilities to create something that can engage fans of both.
Star Wars: The High Republic: Edge of Balance Volume One is currently available at book stores and comic shops everywhere.