Star Wars High Republic The Edge of Balance Volume 1 Manga from VIZ Media is out today (9/7/2021) and I’ve taken a look already! This 122 page+ volume has beautifully crisp art by Mizuki Sakakibara and is written by Shima Shinya & Justina Ireland! Check out my thoughts and the first comic appearances in this release below!
Edge of Balance Vol. 1 is available at these fine retailers:
Jedi Knight, Lily Tora-Asi is our main protagonist in this volume along with her Master Arkoff, a Wookiee Jedi who is quickly becoming a personal favorite of mine.
These two characters have already made appearances in comics, however. Lily made an unnamed one page cameo in High Republic Adventures #3 (IDW). Then both Lily and Arkoff make first full comic appearances in High Republic Edge of Balance Free Comic Book Day 2021 Edition (Viz Manga).
The ship Arkoff and Lily are flying carries two human males of note, Mr. Zetar and Mr. Kooba. Both will be important in the coming story.
Both appeared unnamed in High Republic Edge of Balance Free Comic Book Day 2021 Edition (Viz Manga). They are named and do more than sit on a spaceship in this volume, though. Most will mark this Volume 1 as their first appearance and the FCBD issue as a cameo for each.
Now on to brand new characters which did not appear in the FCBD issue. First off, we have Jedi Younglings, Viv,Nia and Nima. Nima is a human female and Viv’Nia is a Togruta much like fan-favorite Ahsoka! We meet Lily’s Padawan, Keetin. Then there is Ru-Ru, another Jedi. Finally, what Star Wars adventure would be complete without a droid companion? In this instance, his name is Deedee!
Next up, we have Doctor Silar, a human doctor in the Jedi Temple.
So, there are a healthy amount of brand new characters in this new entry into High Republic comics lore, without the book feeling overly stuffed! Plus, a second volume is already being solicited! Looks like we won’t be seeing the last of the Jedi of Banchii just yet!
The Edge of Balance follows Lily Tora-Asi, a female human Jedi Knight during, her adventures on the planet Banchii. She and her Padawan, Keerin serve at the Jedi Temple on Banchii, a planet where refugees from the Great Hyperspace Disaster have come to resettle. We meet Lily as she returns from Hon-Tallos with a fresh batch of settlers. During her flight, her and her Master Arkoff (Wookiee) discuss the conflicting tenets of compassion and disconnection from passion in the Jedi doctrine. The main theme running through this first volume is that, although Lily is a Knight, she still has much to learn.
There are two settlers arriving with Lily that are of particular note. The first is Mr. Kooba, a human male carrying a bucket of seeds from his home planet to re-plant on Banchii. With all the Dregnir running around the galaxy, it’s a good thing this isn’t foreshadowing. No way, this could possible go wrong. (sarcasm) The next is Mr. Zaret, a helpful human male who seems to be of no danger to anybody. Good thing there are no twists in this book! (sarcasm).
Comics are usually highly cinematic in their nature to begin with. This comes with the territory as they are just a few steps removed from pre-production storyboards used in filmmaking. This volume, however, has a noticeably higher level of cinematic experience to it. The panel pacing slows down a little from what you may be used to in the Marvel and IDW High Republic offerings. Seeing as these volumes are being released 120+ pages at a time, you get the sense the author and artist have a little bit more room to breath. More time and space to set scenes, lay out themes and develop characters before action kicks in. The Japanese cultural and artistic influence on this Star Wars setting is present and it’s a welcome presence. After all, how much of the Jedi way of thinking can be traced back to traditions in Buddhism and Tao thought?
In the end, we get brand new characters in the Star Wars High Republic canon, with a fresh perspective and a healthy dose of classic Star Wars action. Manga and Star Wars fans alike, rejoice! This book’s a win!