Marvel released Kanan Last Padawan, the first comic series to focus on Star Wars Rebels show, this week. Rebels is the animated series set about five years before A New Hope, and focuses on a small band of rebels struggling against the Galactic Empire. The title character, Kanan Jarrus, is a Jedi in hiding and one half of the leadership for our merry band of rebels.
In this issue, we are introduced to Caleb Dume, the person Kanan was before Order 66. Caleb’s a Padawan under the tutelage of Jedi Master Depa Billaba during the Clone Wars. He and his master are leading a Republic Clone Army to oust Separatist forces from the planet Kaller. The fighting is fast and brutal, but ultimately the Republic forces drive off the Separatist. During a meeting with the Kalleran leadership, one of the Kallerans insults Billaba. She quietly departs the meeting and returns to her camp on the battlefield.
During the evening after the meeting, Master Billaba asks Caleb how he feels, Caleb replies that he feels at peace, as if he’s found his place in the universe. Master Billaba tells Caleb not to become too attached to the present, that Clone Wars will not continue indefinitely, adding that the universe is not a static place and everything must adapt to changes within it. Later that evening, Caleb asks Master Billaba about why she didn’t react to that Kalleran’s insult. She informs him that sometimes it’s the actions that demonstrate the differences between the Republic and the Separatist. She also expresses doubt about the role of the Jedi in the Clone Wars, that the Jedi should not have taken on a military leadership role in the war. The clone commanders overhear this and disagree with her opinion, stating that without Jedi leadership the clone armies would be at a lost. Caleb realizes that Master Billaba’s questioning the decision of the Jedi Council. Master Billaba explains her reasoning why she chose Caleb as her Padawan, that he’s “infamous” for asking questions. As everyone has a laugh at Caleb’s expense, Master Billaba offers him her Jedi Holocron. Things settle down as the com-link belonging to one of the clone commanders beeps and a hologram of a hooded figure says “Commander Grey, the time has come…”
I am happy to see Rebels in comic book form. It’s nice to see the characters from the new Extended Universe being given the comic book treatment. There are elements from the show that are incorporated into this comic, like Kanan’s Holocron. It’s little things that which make this comic feel like it could be translated directly into a future episode of Rebels. I have series writer Greg Weisman to thank for that, as he is also a writer and producer on the television show. This is, perhaps, a good way to float ideas for future show ideas. I would certainly like to see this General Kleeve of the Separatist army show up on Rebels, but I think we’re going to see him in a later issue. You can also see some of Master Billaba’s teachings shine through in the way Kanan teaches Ezra. It’s nice to be able to see those connections between the comic and the show.
This comic invoked a sense of nostalgia for Clone Wars series from Dark Horse Comics. This issue could have be completely at home within the Dark Horse series as a one-off story. It’s not a bad thing necessarily, but it did make me miss some of those great stories from that era in Star Wars comics.
If you are a fan of the Rebels television series, then you should definitely pick up this comic. There are small nods to the show peppered throughout this issue, and it’s certainly a nice touch. It’s also nice to see Marvel develop Star Wars new expanded universe beyond that of our favorite characters from the movies. I hope to see more follow-ups to Kanan Last Padawan, perhaps revolving around the other crew-members of the Ghost.
Story: 9 Out of 10
Art: 8 Out of 10
Overall: 8.5 Out of 10