Book Review | Star Wars: The High Republic – Edge of Balance: Precedent
I highly recommend Star Wars: The High Republic – Edge of Balance: Precedent. This graphic novel is a hidden gem that pleasantly surprised me!
Let’s see if the latest volume in the Star Wars: The High Republic series, Edge of Balance: Precedent, lives up to the high standards set by its predecessors.
Normally, I’m not a huge Daniel José Older fan. But this graphic novel had a very fun story that veered away slightly from the previous two installments of Edge of Balance. Lily, the world’s biggest hypocrite Jedi does NOT appear. Instead, we are re-introduced to two (Phase 1 and Phase 2 respectively) Jedi and a brand new Jedi who gives the vibe of a female human Yoda. Yes, I said that. Her name is simply revealed as Master Rava, and I am hoping to see more of her. I also was somewhat obsessed with the new baddie, Vol Garat. A bloodthirsty Harch bounty hunter who is revealed to be Marchion Ro’s temporary partner-in-crime.
I love Harches because I hate Harches. Growing up, I suffered from severe arachnophobia. And if I lived in the Star Wars galaxy, Vol Garat would be twice as scary with the 8 eyes, limbs, and pincers. Vol is scary enough for a non-arachnophobe and a formidable opponent even for a Jedi. His resilience, stamina, and endurance are near superhuman. And the panels I read of his actions made me feel like I was watching a Dragonball character fight. The Wookiee Jedi Arkoff appears as well and while his dialogue was mostly growls, the guy gets his point across very well!
Daniel José Older goes the route of a very common storytelling trope to tell his story. While some readers may find it cliche, I think it works quite well with what he created. The events of the present day take place at the end of Phase 2. Marchion is looking for a mysterious item on Banchii. While this manga holds (arguably) the least amount of water for the High Republic initiative, it may be an integral part of the story and possibly camouflaged mandatory reading. Also kind of like an underdog team winning the World Cup or World Series (or whatever sport you fancy). Anyway, Ro puts Vol in charge of his Nihil, and they uncover the object that Marchion wants so badly.
It is…a droid? Yes, a tiny droid reminiscent of the appearance of Giru from Dragonball GT. This ZZ unit has been in sleep mode for a century and a half and becomes the narrator of our story which primarily takes place in the Phase 2 era. We return to the Battle of Dalna and get to see in beautiful art, the firsthand account of Padawan Azlin Rell descending into madness from exposure to the Nameless.
I must take the time to compliment the illustrator Tomio Ogata in his depiction of the Nameless’s effect on the Jedi. He seems to favor nose-bleeds and eye-bleeds and truly evokes how terrifying the Jedi find the Nameless. Azlin has “metaphorical” blood streaming from his eyes to show how affected he becomes. And Ravna has a slight amount of blood coming out of her nostril when she goes to face her destiny. It is very unclear if the blood is real or just an artistic symbol. But the mystery is very much welcome and makes me think of different depictions of the ghost in McBeth. Is it there or are we just “imagining” it?
As I said before, I loved to hate Vol. He is a terrifying powerhouse brute but also has a sharp tongue to match and does not fear the Jedi which is quite impressive. He appears in the flashback tale and the present day as his lifespan is much longer than that of a human. Indeed, this entire story is told from the perspective of timescales far greater than the human race operates on. It creates a kind of cool atemporal effect. The ZZ droid does not age and 150 years is a blink of an eye for a Harch and an even smaller eyebat for the Wookiee Jedi Arkoff. ZZ and Arkoff do a cute buddy-cop teamwork to uncover what drove their padawan friend mad and even though we can’t understand Arkoff, it is made obvious that ZZ is the brains and Arkoff the brawn.
I have nothing bad to say about this manga. Every page was enjoyable. The art, dialogue, and story flow were spot on. Some of the panels with the brawls between Vol and Arkoff need to be read slowly because there are a lot of sparse panels with no dialogue. Just action. It didn’t last very long and was very isolated from the first 2 installments. But in a way, that is good. I found this one far superior to the first two and if I am predicting correctly, perhaps this is essential reading.
I don’t know for sure but we’ll see. Either way, it’s a fun read and you have nothing to lose but time and nothing less to gain than pleasure. A+
Star Wars: The High Republic – Edge of Balance: Precedent releases on June 22 in the U.K. and is available to pre-order now.
Max Nocerino is a regular Staff Writer for The Future of the Force. He is a passionate Star Wars fan and loves the literature of the galaxy far, far away. Follow him on Twitter where he shares his love of the Force frequently!