The second Free Comic Book Day 2021 title to come from A Galaxy Far, Far Away was Star Wars: The High Republic – The Edge of Balance, which I believe takes a bit of a different approach from the one I wrote about yesterday (Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures) in that it seems to contain a preview of content that will be published in an upcoming volume instead of its own original tie-in story.

Star Wars: The High Republic – The Edge of Balance— written by Shima Shinya (Glitch, Lost Lad London) and Justina Ireland (Star Wars: Spark of the Rebellion, Star Wars: The High Republic – Out of the Shadows) with art by Mizuki Sakakibara (Tiger & Bunny, Marvel’s Exiles)– takes place within the same time period as the other High Republic titles, but approaches the storyline with more of a manga-inspired style.

The Free Comic Book Day edition of The Edge of Balance opens on the planet Ta’klah, which is affected by the “Great Hyperspace Disaster” as first seen in author Charles Soule’s novel Star Wars: The High Republic – Light of the Jedi. Debris from the destroyed transport vessel Legacy Run rains down on the planet’s surface, and much like in the above-mentioned book, it’s up to the Jedi to save the day. We see Master Stellan Gios assisting the citizens of Ta’klah, and then sometime later we meet a newly introduced Jedi named Lily Tora-Asi and her Wookiee Master Arkhoff. These two are on their way to a world called Banchii to set up a new Jedi temple, but Lily is having second thoughts about her abilities, her confidence having been shaken by visions she had of Gios’s struggles.

Most of this preview is a conversation between Lily and Arkhoff before they land on Banchii, but I have to wonder how much of this exact content will carry over into the finished product, Volume 1 of which will be released on September 7. In addition to the somewhat amusingly one-sided conversation (we, as readers, don’t get a translation of Arkhoff’s Shyriiwook dialogue), Lily also chats with a group of settlers the Jedi are helping to relocate to Banchii as well. It’s an intriguing setup, but there’s isn’t a tremendous amount to go on here as far as judging the aesthetic quality of this title, except to say that the Jedi temple in question sure looks pretty neat.

The second half of this Free Comic Book Day publication is a preview of Star Wars: Guardian of the Whills – The Manga, a similarly styled interpretation of the junior novel by Greg Rucka, adapted by Jon Tsuei (RUNLOVEKILL, Sera and the Royal Stars) and illustrated by Japanese artist Subaru (Star Wars: The Legends of Luke Skywalker – The Manga). This story serves as a prequel to 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story featuring the characters of Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus as they protect the Temple of the Kyber on Jedha. An imposing Trandoshan warrior posing as a Jedi takes it upon himself to stand up against the Imperial occupation of the planet, and the titular Guardians must confront him before he causes a violent uprising on the already war-torn world. It’s a great start to another appealing adventure with some familiar characters using compelling writing and attractive artwork, and the best part about it is the full-length version is already available!

Star Wars: The High Republic – Edge of Balance (Free Comic Book Day) was distributed as a complimentary release at comic book shops across North America yesterday.