kanan #1

Kanan The Last Padawan

Writer : Greg Wiseman

Artist : Pepe Larraz

Colorist : David Curiel

Cover by: Mark Brooks

So as you may have guessed by the title this book, it is about my new favorite rebel jedi, Kanan Jarrus. The issue is set in the waning days of the Clone Wars. However, what you might not have known is that this issueis just Book One – Part One of some thing greater. What that grand storied scheme is, I don’t know. However, t it does give me something to look forward to, if they are setting up this series to be multi-layered  like the Avatar: The Last Airbender series. That series had its seasons set up as “books” as well.

The book starts off with what would be considered the older Kanan Jarrus on board the Ghost as part of the Rebels crew with Hera, Sabine, Ezra, Zeb and Chopper. The crew gets assigned an easy mission to pick up some needed supplies for the Tarkin town on Lothal from a planet called Kaller. The scene itself shows Hera calling their secretive contact Fulcrum instead of Fulcrum’s identity which was revealed at the end of Rebels season one. So if we the reader isn’t a Star Wars fanatic junkie taking to everything Star Wars like crack, we’d have no idea who Fulcrum is. Thankfully, I am a Star Wars addict and get giddy when I see tie-ins like that.

The rest of the book is done in flashback as twenty-eight year old Kanan hear’s the name of the planet Fulcrum asks them to visit. Kaller, it was the scene of some pretty heavy fighting between Jedi General Master Depa Billaba and the clone armies against the separatist droid armies lead by a devorian General named Kleeve. Along side Master Billaba is a fresh faced teenager around thirteen named Caleb Dume the name Kanan had as a jedi padawan.

The younger version of Kanan is nice to see since we have yet to see him rendered in a way other then the late twenties, space cowboy he was rendered in, in Rebels. In A New Dawn we do have a prologue sequence where a young Caleb Dume meets Jedi Master Obi-Won Kenobi, so now my imagined image of Caleb has a more stable rendering of what to expect and, this is good.

 We also get to see Caleb do some thinking about his situation as it is now. He thinks about being glad he was going to see part of the clone wars before it ended and Master Billaba coming back from whatever it was she came back from, which is hopefully foreshadowing some hooks to come in later issues.

During an action sequence it also shows Billaba ordering Caleb to remember his basic defensive stances. Form Three,  is also mentioned in the first season of Rebels when Kanan squares off saber vs. saber with the Inquisitor. Caleb holds his own well against the droid armies as master Billaba orders clone trooper leaders Captain Styles and Commander Grey to help flank the Separatist positions. As the Separatist position crumbles to the clone armies General Kleeve must make his preparations to escape but before he does he gives some good dialogue regarding the intelligence on Billaba’s mental state and later has a short interaction with Kaller’s resident government official Gamut Key. General Kleeve fully acknowledges that Key and the rest of the Kallerans weren’t happy with the Separatist droids occupation but he tosses one last jab at Key buy letting him know they may not like the Republic forces either.

Well General Kleeve’s attempt to stir dissent between Gamut Key and his populace and the Republic forces seems to worked to some effect because as jedi Gernal Billaba is speaking terms of hand over from the Separatist to Republic forces Gamut Key and some of the other Kallerans at the meeting act very distrustful to the Jedi and her forces. Billaba playing the diplomat cools the situation and things progress.

On page 13 theres’ a nice sequence where Billaba and Caleb only have a few words spoken between them. As Kaller’s suns set in the background the few words spoken are about Billaba training her padawan Caleb in different jedi forms and techniques. Page 14 the dialogue continues as Billaba asks Caleb about his emotions and his state of mind. He like many that age have questions and Billaba does her best to help him understand his questions and his emotional state. There was small bit of dialogue Billaba wants to know the state of Caleb’s heart, to which he says is at ease. Billaba talks about its at ease even at war because Caleb thinks he has direction and purpose. But warns him that the war as his apprenticeship will have to end and it will be better not to fall in love with his situation. My take on it, was that jedi have to be emotionally detached from their situation in order to be better judges and peace keepers. However the comic book guy inside me so hopes that Billaba thinks Caleb has a crush on her and she’s very nicely trying to let him down easy. Not that Caleb ever mentions his feelings for Billaba we know he does enjoy and respect his masters company and training. It doesn’t hurt she’s a beautiful woman who is helping him learn his place in the universe which as an avid manga reader usually leads to awesome sensei crushes.

Fanboy shipping aside, the scene was really well done especially when Billaba asks Caleb about the status of his heart and she gives a smirking smile. Later Billaba, Caleb and her clone leaders are huddled around campfires outside. Caleb asks why Billaba didn’t retaliate to the Kalleran who questioned if the Republic was any better then the Separatist armies. She tells Caleb she lets her actions speak over any words which I respect more then anything. As a man who has seen a decent amount of the worst side of humanity words mean little and in this case a war torn planet in need of help actions should be the only things taken at face value.

Then Billaba tells Caleb it isnt the only reason she remained silent during the verbal scuffle between the Kallerans and her forces. She also believed the jedi were in error when taking on military titles, which is something I also agree with as a fan. Saying this to Caleb makes Captain Styles and Commander Grey disagree vehemently. They say that the leadership that she provided did untold good within the battalion to keep it running smoothly. This is where Billaba drops some wisdom on the clones. “It’s not a matter of Leadership, but of role and rank.” This is something that’s always been an underlying theme in the Clone Wars. Not all leaders deserve their rank, not all ranks can obtained create good leadership. It mirrors the old themes of enlisted men in war stepping up to become great leaders because they are put in desperate situations where soldiers who have to depend on skill and tactics will survive while others wont.

This ideal of course makes Caleb surprised because Master Billaba may be questioning the Jedi High Council in this respect, which is something he’d never expect. However, Billaba reminds him that Caleb himself was infamous for questioning authority too many times. Which the clones break out in laughter after hearing it. They joke around with Caleb for it but he tells them it wasn’t decisions he questioned his inquisitive nature always made him wonder why such decisions were made.

Then Billaba decides to come to the aid of her padawan’ embarrassing situation by saying it may have been her who was too “GLIB”? That it may not be the most attractive quality in a jedi master. Which the crooked eyebrow and hand on her cheek again makes me think she thinks Caleb is crushing on her and to be honest I can see why. Billaba tell Caleb that the truth is that his nature to question authority was the reason she chose him as her padawan. Then Billaba breaks out her big guns,… er gun… err item. A jedi holocron. She explains to Caleb that it can be used to study the roles of questioning decisions and peaceful dissent within the Jedi Order. As a kid with a new toy his expression is awesome. To be honest I’m a grown man and if I was given a jedi holocron not only would I look like a little kid on Christmas I’d probably be jumping around and fist pumping because I just got. A. Jedi. Holcron.

After the excitement of the moment passes Captain Styles starts teasing Caleb for being the Jedi Temple troublemaker and being a pain. To which Commander Grey tells Styles to leave the kid alone and like all kids Caleb returns with the “Stop calling me a kid!”. Sad, really. I never took being called a kid as offensive, nor will I ever. Caleb though isn’t a kid in the small innocent version of the term, he’s a jedi padawan who’s went into battle with his comrades and survived. Also I noticed that Commander Grey has a huge scar similar to Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones reference, for those that didn’t know) on his face and carries what seems to be a katana sword on his back. Now, I’m no weapons expert but while I do understand the look of a sheathed katana blade on the back of a clone commander does seem to resemble 7 kinds of awesome there’s something to be said about lack of efficiency for trying to chop through Separatist battle droids with a metal blade. But I digress…

The next and last part of the issue is something I had hoped wouldn’t come as quickly in the story but was an inevitable story staple to the Clone Wars. The last scene of this the first issue of Kanan the last Padawan we see Commander Grey receive a private holo message from Palpatine explaining to Grey the time has come to execute order 66. I knew this was coming in this time period, the great jedi purge. I kind of knew from Rebels that master Billaba didn’t survive the Clone Wars so I was wondering if she fell in battle or from the execution order. I knew these things but was hoping that the writers would stretch out the story a little more with Billaba and Caleb showing more interaction with Styles and Grey to build that relationship between them before this great betrayal took place.

As I read the pages leading up to this last scene I was hoping for more back story on Billaba being told and maybe more ship-building between … eh never mind. Let’s just say I was hoping for a little more time but as all good things, it must end. So our last look at the first issue of Kanan the Last Padawan is Commander Grey standing with his blaster rifle ominously turning back to look at the relaxing Master Billaba and newly acquired holocron owning Caleb Jarrus.