Star Wars: The High Republc – The Edge of Balance Vol. 1 Review

So last year we got a bunch of Star Wars Anime shorts, now I’m reviewing not just a Star Wars manga but one set during the High Republic era, which I’ve been loving the last year or so. It’s always nice when something ticks so many boxes at once! That being said due to being printed in the traditional western way and having a very simple plot this felt less like manga than I was expecting… Is it still worth reading though? Let’s find out!

Synopsis:

In the aftermath of the Great Hyperspace Disaster, young Jedi Knight Lily Tora-Asi is assigned to help displaced civilians relocate to Banchii, a planet in the Inugg system far in the Outer Rim. While balancing the arrival of incoming settlers and teaching the Padawans on their Temple outpost, Lily must also confront an attack by the insidious Drengir and, after the events of the Republic Fair, deal with the growing threat of the Nihil. But the dangers to Lily and her Padawans are much closer than she thinks….

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Vwooooom! … Yeah, that’s about how I’d pronounce the Lightsabre sound…

First off I do really like the artwork. The volume starts off with a flashback to The Great Disaster from the first High Republic book and we get to see Stellan Gios do some heroics and saving people, which is great because he’s not featured a lot in the comics (at least not the ones I’ve read so far) so it was great to see him, especially… well, I’ll leave Book 3 spoilers out of this review given it takes place before it, but yeah. Great to see. It’s set in between the first two books, the last chapter referencing the events of “The Rising Storm” to set up the Manga’s second volume, which will presumably take place before Book 3, maybe even crossing over it a bit.

The actual core story is a little plain and weak but I did enjoy our lead protagonist Lily Tora-Asi and her relationship with not only her old Master in veteran Wookie Jedi Arkoff but her Padawan in Keerin Fionn. Being in the middle allows her to still accept lessons from her Master as well as dish them out to her apprentice (as well as to two Younglings called Nima and Viv’nia who hang around the temple). Lessons about perspective and calmness alongside traditional lightsabre practice certainly suits the setting of a Jedi Temple though it can also be quite dull…

That would be a rather disturbing thing to see clinging to your ceiling, I’ll admit…

The main / only threat during the volume was a new form of Drengir, the evil Force-sensitive plant creatures that are eventually sorted out in the main High Republic comics. These ones have the ability to multiply when parts of them are cut off and even have rudimentary speech. Lily, Arkoff and Keerin all hold it off at various points before Lily figures out their weakness to fire. Meanwhile the Younglings do a good job of helping to get civilians to safety when the plant creatures get a bit too near the planet’s settlement. Once the threat is dealt with they’re visited by Stellan Gios, who informs them of the attack on the Republic Fair on Valo and recruits Arkoff to help in the fight back against the Nihil, therefore placing Lily in charge of the settlement. Even as a Jedi Knight she has her doubts, but once again her Master points out she’s looking at things in the wrong way and to be more self-confident. As the two Masters leave we see a member of the settlement is actually working for the Nihil…

Also there’s a bonus Chapter where Lily, her Padawan and the two Younglings explore the planet’s forests a bit and find the native species, who have been stealing supplies from the settlers though only because they have no concept of ownership over objects. Lily manages to negotiate for the two sides to work together. It was short but very sweet, as in cute and endearing kind of sweet…

The Bad:

It’s weird that this is now the second Wookie Jedi during this era, yet we got no Wookie Jedis during the Clone Wars era…

There’s nothing really bad about it per say but I will say that it was quite… dull. Like it made for a quick and fun little read but there were no real meat on its bones, even the drama of the Drengir attack was fun but only lasted a chapter. The characters looked great on the page but personality-wise they were all really bland. It didn’t leave me looking forward to Vol. 2, put it that way. It didn’t turn me off he idea of buying Vol. 2 completely (more just because I have Vol. 1 on my shelf now, and I do love the High Republic era…) but when compared to the novels or the Western comics this felt very simple and safe…

Overall Thoughts:

Stellan Gios does the brave heroic Jedi things.

The Edge of Balance’s first volume is disappointing plain. I really like the artwork and it had one or two good moments, but otherwise it was simple storytelling with a rather bland cast. Not offensive, especially given how short it is, but not exactly exciting either. We’ll see if it picks up for its second half…

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