– Spoiler Review –
Kanan’s first arc, The Last Padawn, is easily the best of the Marvel comics released so far, semi-ending the arc with the excellent, emotional, and well-rounded issue #5: “Release.” Issue #6, subtitled “Epilogue: Haunts,” brings Caleb’s past ordeals back into the forefront of Kanan’s mind, proving itself worthy of the Kanan series name by the time its cliffhanger of an ending drops.
Kanan #6 takes us back to the (Star Wars Rebels Season 1) “present” first seen in #1 and last shown in #5, where the Ghost‘s mission to the planet Kaller led Kanan down memory lane. The memories happened to be some rather giant moments in his life, including his experience with Order 66 and adjusting to living in its aftermath, an emotional ride for both readers and the young Caleb who lived through them, something which has left scars on Kanan’s psyche to this day. The subtitle “Haunts” has many uses and meanings in #6, from how haunting it is for Kanan (and us readers) to be back to a place steeped so heavily in memories of the life he left behind, some of which literally haunt him as ghosts of sorts, to Kanan visiting his old haunts on Kaller during his own
street-rat Kaller-rat days.* Kanan has still kept these moments secret from his fellow crew, including Hera, his closet confidante and someone who he’s had/will have/might never have a relationship with beyond friendship, which speaks volumes as to how much he hates being on Kaller and how badly he wants to banish the memories it carries for him. Hera happens to be the only one who picks up how much he’s currently affected and is the only one to watch him walk away when the team splits up to look for the supplies they came for, but she also knows not to press him about it because they are space married. By that I mean they’ll have a chat (off-screen, like a lot of their personal chats have been) where he’ll likely explain everything to her later and she knows it…or at least as much as the truth as he’s willing. How married is that?
While Kanan runs into Gamut Key, now a Provincial Governor of Kaller, and Tapusk, an underling/rival of Kasmir’s who is now his own boss, interestingly enough neither recognizes him from his time on Kaller as a young Padawan/fugitive (I mean, he was practically wearing the same outfit some 14 years ago so it’s a little surprising!). However, that doesn’t mean they won’t give him trouble, as Key basically uses Kanan and crew to help take down Tapusk and his little band of thieves. In the end, Key turns out to be possibly sympathetic to the rebel cause, while Tapusk’s blade seemingly struck Kanan harder than he realized (or was poisoned-tipped), leaving Kanan near-dead on the floor. He chalks up Tapusk’s success in stabbing him as the fault of his demons clouding his senses, but we all know it’s Kanan’s personal emotional baggage issues to blame, not the poor ghosts of Kanan past. And while we know Kanan will come through, it’s another unexpected and welcomed surprise from the tight, engaging writing by series stalwart Greg Weisman. Now as much as I want to go back and discover more of Caleb’s earlier Jedi moments, I want to stay in the present to uncover the tale on Kaller.
There are tons of little emotional moments but I think the two biggest ones are as follows:
A) Kanan certainly seems to feel guilty now about his choice all those years ago to abandon (or as he puts it here, reject) Kasmir’s friendship, despite his almost legitimate fears it could lead to Kasmir’s death, so it’s enduring to see him try to get his hopes up he can smooth over their relationship by offering Kasmir a spot in the rebellion’s efforts. In a way his offer almost feels like a desperate measure to extend an olive branch to his old friend, considering a similar offer of partnership is what Caleb shot down before. Imagine Kanan’s (and our) disappointment that he doesn’t run into Kasmir at all, who’s fate isn’t yet set in stone no matter what that final panel of ghosts standing over Kanan’s dying body seems to imply. And seeing as we’ll be returning to the “present” Kaller-set storyline in the comics’ future, I fully expect to see good old Kasmir again. I hope not to sob.
B) Hera and Kana’s exchange before he drops unconscious from the knife wound would also qualify as a strong emotional moment. Sure, it seems he might not have had his communicator on, but after she asks him if he misses her, his response is one of his rare un-cocky and swagger-less moments, “Always…And more than you’ll ever know.” Remember the whole space-married thing? Yeah, I expect we’ll get a little clearer detail on whatever their relationship is and was during the show’s second season in October.
While having a different artist was unavoidable and doesn’t ruin the issue in the slightest, it’s still a little jarring at first, considering the differences in Jacopo Camagni’s, Pepe Larraz’s, and Star Wars Rebels‘ take on Kanan, Hera, Sabine, Zeb, Chopper, and Ezra. But, and I agree with Pep No on Tumblr, Camagni does some mean side profiles and by having Curiel on colors duty means the style might change but the palette is easy to recognize and recall from the earlier issues. In fact, Camagni does an excellent job capturing the cowboy swagger of Kanan and he did a commendable job overall.
Here are a few other things:
- *:Which, come to think of it, might be one of the things Kanan sees of himself in Ezra, who they discovered (and still tease) as a Loth-rat, doing exactly what Kanan did when he was initially without his family. Oh yeah, they both lost their family at a young age, too…the similarities are strong with these two.
- While the shot of Kanan’s ghosts standing over him in the final panel doesn’t necessarily validate my theory on the zombie-like panel from #2, having Caleb be one of the ghosts certainly adds some credence to the idea that Caleb died all those years ago and someone else arose from his grave (as seen in a zombie trope laden panel in #2)
- The theme of “haunts,” whether referencing frightening memories or old hiding spots, is strong with the #6 and it also got a little more interesting when you consider the name of Hera’s ship, the Ghost, and that they all use Spectre code names
- I smiled pretty big when Gamut does a little double take on the name Jarrus, thinking Kanan said Janus instead. I think we all got where Kanan took the name from already, but it’s a funny little wink and nod line nonetheless.
- Also, for someone who doesn’t want to be recognized or to be noticed, Kanan has a habit of affecting those around him quickly and making friends in all sorts of places (first Kasmir, then Kleeve, and now Key!). That gives me another thought…
- ….Holy K’s! Kaller, Kanan, Kasmir, Kleeve, Key
- While we didn’t get a lot of time with Zeb, Sabine, and Ezra, Weisman captures the brother and sister relationship of Zeb and Sabine rather well in a single panel, while he got Ezra’s confidant demeanor down. Hera was Weisman’s strongest of the Ghost‘s crew outside of Kanan. But with Chopper…well, you can never get him wrong. I certainly loved how Chopper held up his arms alongside Kanan when Tapusk’s men had them surrounded.
Kanan #6 is a natural step in Kanan’s emotional journey, forcing him to face the things he left behind over a decade before. And with an ending which means we’ll be returning to the present in the future of the series, it seems Kanan still has some work to do with his emotional baggage. I look forward to continually be along for the ride.
+ Emotional ride down memory-lane for Kanan (and us)
+ Haunt theme
+ Slightly surprising ending
– Art’s a little jarring at first
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) | Annual: #1
Poe Dameron (on-going)
Han Solo (mini-series)
Obi-Wan & Anakin (mini-series)
Shattered Empire (mini-series)
Princess Leia (mini-series)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (mini-series)