Star Wars manga: A guide to The Edge of Balance and more must-read works

Star Wars: The Edge of Balance. Photo:
Star Wars: The Edge of Balance. Photo: /

With nearly a dozen films, several TV shows and — literally — hundreds of books and comics, there is a Star Wars for everyone. And that includes manga, the wildly popular comic and graphic novel form originating in Japan. There are about a dozen different Star Wars manga collections, including the newly-released original story, The High Republic: The Edge of Balance.

It’s no secret that many aspects of the Star Wars universe draw from Japanese culture and history. Just look at the samurai influences seen in the Jedi’s call to peacekeeping and their laser swords, and the feudal Japan inspiration behind Darth Vader’s armor.

With so much Japanese influence, it’s surprising that there aren’t more manga adaptations and original stories. And, fans are just now getting Star Wars anime when Visions premieres on Sept. 22.

While Visions boasts a series of all-new stories set in the galaxy, there are plenty of Star Wars manga to read beforehand.

Star Wars: The Edge of Balance. Photo:
Star Wars: The Edge of Balance. Photo: /

1. The High Republic: The Edge of Balance

Star Wars’ newest manga series is from authors Justina Ireland and Shima Shinya with art by Mizuki Sakakibara and Nezu Usugumo. An all-new story set hundreds of years before the events of The Phantom Menace, The Edge of Balance chiefly follows a group of Jedi and their evolving roles as the galaxy’s defenders of the peace. Jedi Knight Lily Tora-Asi is the main character, along with her padawan Keerin and her Wookie former master, Arkoff. Similar to the character study and emotional journey seen in High Republic stories with Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwoh, The Edge of Balance explores Lily’s imposter syndrome and feelings of inadequacy at being a knight and having a padawan learner at such a young age. Being set in the High Republic, there are also references to previous stories and characters like the hyperspace emergences and the threat of the Nihil in the yet-unsettled Outer Rim territories.

Though it’s a new story with several novels and comic series that came before it, The Edge of Balance is easy to jump right into without feeling like you’re missing pieces of the larger story.

Star Wars: Lost Stars. Photo: Star
Star Wars: Lost Stars. Photo: Star /

2. Star Wars: Lost Stars

One of the few novels that span a large swath of the Star Wars timeline, Lost Stars by Claudia Gray also has a manga adaptation illustrating the star-crossed lives of Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree. The story follows Thane and Ciena from childhood, through their time in the Imperial Academy and Thane’s defection to the Rebellion after witnessing the horrific fascism of the Empire. Lost Stars is a sweeping, emotional story that pits two lifelong friends against one another, forcing them to reckon with the side they back and to choose between love and loyalty to their cause. The novel is one of the best Star Wars books out there, but its manga adaptation brings the characters and scenes to life in both an incredibly intimate and epic way.

Leia Organa: Ordeal of the Princess. Photo:
Leia Organa: Ordeal of the Princess. Photo: /

3. Leia Organa: Ordeal of the Princess

Another adaptation of a Claudia Gray novel, this one illustrates the story from Leia, Princess of Alderaan. The novel and manga follow Princess Leia as a teenager, about three years before the Battle of Yavin seen in A New Hope. Leia follows the future leader of the Rebellion and the Resistance as she learns the ways of politics in the Empire and on her home planet, where she prepares for a special ceremony that marks her as the rightful future ruler of Alderaan. She also notices her parents, Bail and Breha Organa, are much more distant than they used to be and are participating in secret meetings. Once she learns their secret, however, she’s forced to choose between fulfilling her traditional duty to Alderaan and the Empire or fighting back alongside her parents against oppressive rule.

Only one volume has been released so far because of the author’s health issues, but a second volume is anticipated in 2022.

Star Wars Rebels manga. Photo: Amazon.
Star Wars Rebels manga. Photo: Amazon. /

4. Star Wars Rebels

This adaptation follows the same story as the eponymous animated series, just in a manga format. Like Leia, Rebels follows a teenage Ezra Bridger as his life on Lothal is turned upside down by the appearance of rebels aboard the starship Ghost. Also like Leia, only one volume of the series has been printed in English so far. But volume 2 is set to be released on Sept. 28, 2021.

Star Wars: Guardians of the Whills (Star Wars: Rogue One). Photo:
Star Wars: Guardians of the Whills (Star Wars: Rogue One). Photo: /

5. Guardians of the Whills

Sharing the same name as the middle-grade novel published in 2017, the Guardians of the Whills manga follows the beloved Rogue One duo of Baze Malbus and Chirrut Îmwe. The two have long guarded the Kyber Temple on the planet Jedha, honoring the Force and working to maintain peace amidst the growing chaos and fascism of the Empire. Set before the events of Rogue One, the story follows the Guardians struggling to maintain their peaceful beliefs when confronted by violence on both sides — from encroaching stormtroopers and the intense Rebel fighter Saw Gerrera.

The Legends of Luke Skywalker. Photo: Amazon.
The Legends of Luke Skywalker. Photo: Amazon. /

6. The Legends of Luke Skywalker

Another adaptation, this one turns the young readers anthology novel into manga with a different creator illustrating each chapter. Part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi campaign, the novel and manga explore several popular myths and legends about the famed Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker. That includes a story about Luke saving several Imperials during the Battle of Jakku, one showing the Jedi inciting a droid rebellion, another story illustrating iconic scenes from Return of the Jedi from the point of view of a mole-flea and another showing Luke and a scientist being eaten by a giant space slug.

With a group of creators showcasing their takes on Star Wars stories, The Legends of Luke Skywalker manga is a good example of what could be in store in Star Wars: Visions.

Star Wars: The Manga (14 book series). Photo: Amazon.
Star Wars: The Manga (14 book series). Photo: Amazon. /

7. The original trilogy and The Phantom Menace

The original Star Wars trilogy of films was adapted into several manga volumes each in the late 1990s. Then, The Phantom Menace was adapted after its release as well. Each manga sticks close to the original source script, telling the stories of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Leia Organa and then of Padme Amidala and a young Anakin Skywalker. But, being manga adaptations, the original trilogy and The Phantom Menace are portrayed even more poignantly and expressively.

Star Wars: Black. Photo: Tokyopop.
Star Wars: Black. Photo: Tokyopop. /

8. Star Wars Manga: Black and Silver

Released in 2005 by Tokyopop, Star Wars Manga: Black and Star Wars Manga: Silver are two anthology volumes of short tales created as “Infinities,” which means they were not canon from the start. But, the series does focus on recognizable characters and settings from the original trilogy and prequel eras, including General Grievous, young Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader. There are even stories illustrating Vader engaging in a lightsaber duel with R2-D2 and training a secret apprentice after the Battle of Yavin.

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