– Spoiler Review –
Here we are folks, the end the Kanan comic series is not near, it’s here. Issue #12 brings the continuously excellent series to a close (I named it my favorite series of 2015) and it’s quite a bittersweet ending. On one hand, it’s a wonderfully written wrap-up of various threads from the entire series as well as full of surprising tie-ins to stories elsewhere in canon. On the other hand, this is the last of it. And while there’s always a fear one can have too much of a good thing (as I know I want more of this series), I’d honestly say Kanan #12 ends things at just the right time with about as perfect of an ending as one can get.
From the issue’s opening page to its closing image, it’s a wallop of revelations, resolutions, character moments, and lastly, pure fun. #12 takes place in the Star Wars Rebels Season One ‘present,’ likely no later then “Rise of the Old Masters” as certain events within seem to foreshadow. Just as the Ghost crew is ready to finally leave Kaller, Kanan receives a call from an old friend, so Kanan takes Ezra with him to answer it. The call came from Moraga, which is the first planet Caleb Dume visited once he ditched his identity and friends, like Janus Kasmir and Kleeve, and became Kanan Jarrus. In issue #5, we only get a quick glimpse and an introduction to Morfizo and his family, but now we find out Kanan spent some considerable time there, befriending the family to the point where they were willing to even hide his ship, The Escape, throughout the years. It turns out Morfizia called because the Empire took her husband Morfizo to the planet Lahn due to him joining a Rebel cell. Lahn is where Caleb and Janus got into some trouble with the clones (and he got the Escape) as seen in issues #4 and #5. Of course Kanan rescues his friend and comes away alive, but the surprises and full-circle feeling along the way are what truly makes this issue something extra special.
Let’s start with the surprise I, and I’m sure many readers, didn’t see coming: Rae Sloane (who is one of my favorite characters in canon to date, outside of movie characters) appears! Introduced in the very first novel of the new canon, A New Dawn (which gets an editor’s note shoutout in the issue!), Sloane is an interim Captain in the Empire, caught in the middle of a power struggle between Count Vidian and one of his rivals. She comes out on top at the end due to her loyalty to the Empire but also a willingness to question its methods and find a better way, plus thanks to some half-truths Kanan tells her about her superiors. Since then, she’s been promoted to Vice Admiral and in her free time tries tracking down the enigma that was Kanan Jarrus, which led her to Morfizo, who she arrests coincidentally due to his Rebel activities. She wants to capture Kanan alive, to learn who he really is other than a mouthy pilot, but Kanan gets the best of her and leaves her alive while getting away with his friend. It’s a fantastic but short moment, tying together the novel and comic in an unexpected and highly welcomed way. While the issue doesn’t dive into it, what makes her so memorable is that she has a unique mindset about the Empire and its purpose, despite being loyal to it, and it’s constantly hard to really call her a villain. At this point in time, we know Sloane’s still alive post-Return of the Jedi as an Admiral, serving under a mysterious Fleet Admiral (as seen in Aftermath), and the more appearances of her (and her continued survival), the better!
A smaller cameo comes in the aftermath of Kanan’s escape from Sloane, as the Grand Inquisitor arrives inquiring about, as Sloane called Kanan, “her hobby.” What was interesting about their quick interaction was Sloane’s gasp, as throughout A New Dawn, Aftermath, and even the short story “Levers of Power,” (as seen in the Rise of the Empire novel gathering A New Dawn, Tarkin, and two other short stories) we never really see her frightened of anything. The only other time she’s been scared was in another short story appearance, “Orientation,” where she saw Vader’s handywork of taking out Imperial officers (it can be found in the paperback release of Lords of the Sith). The Force, and those who wield it, seem to the only ones who Sloane is ever truly scared of, which adds another tic under the “Reasons to Love Rae Sloane,” column. While the comic series has been connected to the show from the start, it was really interesting to see Sloane (of novel fame) interacting with the Grand Inquisitor (of the show fame) in the comic. It didn’t make the universe feel small, thankfully, but instead connected in a holistic and intricate way that pays off in big dividends to those who attempt to consume it all (while still being intriguing to those who don’t). If this is the future of the connected canon, where characters jump all across the various forms of media, the possibilities this opens up is staggering.
This comic is labeled Kanan after all, so I’d be remiss not to mention how wonderfully Greg Weisman captures the refreshed Jedi here (as he has been doing throughout the entire series). In issue #6, Kanan lands on Kaller for the first time since leaving it as Caleb, but he stumbles through his mission with the Ghost crew because the ghosts and memories of his past sneak up and haunt him, leaving him vulnerable to attack. Now that he’s done dwelling on his past while in the bacta chamber, the confident and cocky “cowboy Jedi” fans of the show know well is back. Weisman, who was executive producer of Rebels S1, shows his innate understanding of the character and gives us some entertaining moments for Kanan as he rescues his friend, watches over the loth-rat known as Ezra, and has his run in with Sloane. It all feels organically like Kanan, no matter the situation, and it’s an awesome return to his usual form as the story of the comics wraps up.
The final page of the issue choked me up and even got a tear or two out of me, as Janus Kasmir appears in an unexpected but sublime way. Ezra is tasked with being a diversion to some stormtroopers standing outside the cell where Morfizo is being held, but he finds himself cornered because he’s in an unfamiliar place and dealing with slightly smarter than average bucketheads. A mysterious stranger saves him, but neither Ezra or the stranger exchanges names and they go about their separate ways. In one of the many bits of symmetry found in the issue, Kanan’s conversation with Ezra about the incident is mirrored between Kleeve and Janus (flying away from Lahn in Janus’ The Kasmiri!), as Janus explains to Kleeve he helped the random kid because they reminded him of someone both he and Kleeve once knew. Combining the smile on Janus’ face as he talks about Caleb and the panel depicting the young Caleb all decked out in the gear Janus gave him is an emotional gut punch ending (tears are coming out just thinking about the moment!) this series is oft to land. Janus cared about Caleb, even if he never truly admitted it to the boy, and it’s heartening to see he still cares and thinks about him to this day, reminding us the power Kanan has when it comes to making friends. Would I have loved to see Kanan and Janus meet again? You freaking bet, but I liked how his reappearance was handled here instead, as it leaves the possibility of them meeting again one day open. Plus, had they met here, you could’ve almost faulted this issue for tying up too many threads (which I don’t think I’ve ever said before).
Just as the story brought several eras of Kanan’s life seemingly full-circle, so too did the covers (by Mark Brooks) for the first and last issue, as seen below:
Here are a few other things:
- I enjoyed Andrea Broccardo’s art, as it referenced Pepe Larraz’s while also being its own thing (and it was definitely helped by keeping Curiel on colors).
- The ship Gamut Key uses to escort Kanan and Ezra from Kaller to Moraga should look familiar to fans of Kyle Katarn’s adventures: it’s a HWK-290 light freighter.
- Curious to learn a little more about the Grand Inquisitor, even after his death in the S1 finale? My review of Rebels‘ “Shroud of Darkness” has some answers.
- There’s an offhanded internal dialogue line from Kanan narrating events, but it has some dark implications considering it’s about Ezra. After Ezra runs off making his diversion, Kanan says, “I just hope Ezra isn’t the next friend I have to rescue.” There has been some hints at things going badly for Kanan’s young Padawan in the current season of Rebels and I wonder if this was an intentional hint at that or just an in-joke to all the times he has had to save Ezra in little ways throughout the series. I hope the latter!
- As much as I want more from the Kanan series, it’s hard to think they could’ve managed a better ending than the one we got here. Sure, the series could’ve spent more time on Caleb’s days before Order 66 or even covered some of the ground between the end of #5 till the start of A New Dawn, and I would’ve loved to see every moment of those stories, but I can’t really complain at all about what we got here.
Kanan #12 cements the series’ legacy as one of earliest stand outs from Marvel’s new comics and ensures the series is destined to be a classic (alongside the likes of Lando and Darth Vader). If you’ve been holding out on reading this series because you feel like you need to have watched the show or read a book or two to enjoy it, that’s foolish reasoning to be missing out on a consistently strong title. Of course partaking in all of the other bits of the Star Wars universe this series connects to certainly will help add to your enjoyment of Kanan, it stands well enough on its own that it’s not to be missed. Thanks for the great times Greg Weisman, Pepe Larraz, David Curiel, Andrea Broccardo, and Jacopo Camagni!
+ Tie-ins and surprises
+ Complete, full-circle feeling
+ Confident Kanan
+ Janus Kasmir’s appearance (complete with tears)
+ Sloane and Grand Inquisitor
– It has to end…
CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
The Last Padawan (#1-6) | First Blood: #7 | #8 | #9 | #10 | #11
Vader (#1-6) | Shadows and Secrets (#7-12) | The Shu-Torun War (#16-19) | End of Games (#20-25) | Annual: #1
Vader Down (crossover of Star Wars and Darth Vader on-goings)
Skywalker Strikes (#1-6) | Old Ben’s Journals | Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon (#8-12) | Rebel Jail (#16-19) | The Last Flight of the Harbinger (#21-25)
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6)
Han Solo (mini-series)
Obi-Wan & Anakin (mini-series)
Shattered Empire (mini-series)
Princess Leia (mini-series)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (mini-series)