– Spoiler Review –
Kanan #11 gives another solid issue in one of the strongest run of comics so far from Marvel, but its ending highlights why the second arc hasn’t been as good as the first.
Losing Stance, or losing any friend for that matter, happens far too often for young Caleb. With Stance, and later Grey and Styles when Order 66 strikes midnight in their minds, and even Depa, Caleb loses his earliest friends through means out of his control. Seeing that through “First Blood” has given “The Last Padawan” some clarity on Caleb’s unwavering devotion to getting his friend Janus Kasmir back from the Imperials, as he certainly doesn’t want to keep losing friends when he has the power to do something about it. And for the longest time, up until he meets Hera (in A New Dawn), he chooses to keep friends at arm’s length because of how he doesn’t want to experience losing them/being worried about losing them/or them being used against anymore. The fact that he nearly taps into the dark side on Mygeeto to get revenge against the Kage warrior who kills Stance also probably has a lot to do with it.
This arc was aptly named “First Blood,” as this issue ends with Caleb’s first kill. The Kage warrior who kills Stance is indeed Coburn Sear, brother to Rackham Sear seen in #7, and Caleb can hardly contain his anger as they engage in battle. But Caleb shows why Kanan, after years of hiding from the Force/doing good, can be such a great Jedi because even as a young Padawan he quickly realizes the futility of connecting with the dark side to take down Coburn. Instead he wants to honor his fallen friend by bringing Coburn to justice, but the Separatist forces Caleb’s hand in the end. After Caleb breaks Coburn’s flamethrower, Coburn (cue ironic name moment) burns himself alive and attempts to take Caleb with him, and while obviously Caleb survives, he gives Coburn a mercy killing instead of letting him cook alive. The young Padawan doesn’t even feel happy about that, rather would he see his friend next to him than the perpetrator dead. I was looking forward to Depa giving him some advice about the kill, but unfortunately there’s no such moment.
Also no such moment: villain character development. The Sears had a fanatical take on the war, but were in an odd way right about the whole thing, realizing the Jedi were on the wrong side. But Caleb doesn’t react to hearing Coburn pronounce his name moments before death like Rackham, revealing their family connection, nor does Coburn say anything about getting justice for how they’ve ruined his plans so far. I would’ve liked a little more from these two, but I think they weren’t given as much time because of having General Grievous around, who simply served the purpose of giving Depa some much needed closure from how his slaughter of her battalion left her in a coma for quite some time. While nice to see Depa keep Grievous at bay for most of their battle, and come into peace with herself during it, he certainly took away from giving the Sears more time on the page. They had interesting ideals, fanatic loyalty to the cause, and some cool skills, but they didn’t end up becoming anything more. “The Last Padawan” arc gave its villain, General Kleeve (who cameo-ed in this arc), some interesting story turns, developing him into more than just a Separatist loyalist and it resulted in some surprising things. Compared to that, the Sears were a disappointment, especially since they felt like carbon copies of each other, which you can see in the picture below (where I placed #7 and #11 side by side).
And now we’re all caught up, story-wise; Caleb’s time in this arc has caught up with the start of the first arc, bringing the past full circle. Overall, the second arc’s tale about his very first days in the war were entertaining and gave a nice little extra emotional punch to the already emotional first arc’s tale and characters. It was always going to be a tall order to live up to the pulse-pounding pace of the first one and by slowing things down to focus on how Depa and Caleb became a team definitely was a great attempt to at least match it, to which it came awfully close. The final issue of the series will deal with the Star Wars Rebels S1 ‘present’ set tale of the team’s visit to Kaller, as this issue ends with Kanan snapping out of a coma of his own and rescuing his friends. Now they can get back to tracking down Janus Kasmir, a reunion I’m hoping beyond hope finally takes place.
Here are a few other things:
- Each month, the creative team has been top-notch with the Kanan series and Pepe Larraz’s art is no exception in this matter. However, this is his last issue as artist, seeing as they are bringing a different artist for #12, much like they did for #6; I wasn’t a huge fan of Camagni’s work, so here’s hoping Andrea Broccardo can do Larraz’s art justice for the series finale. I’ve got my fingers crossed he’ll return to the Star Wars fold soon, as his was some of my favorite art from all of the Marvel series to date.
- There was a great sob enducing exchange between Grey and Styles when Depa gets injured fighting Grievous, where Styles says they have to save her the moment they hear her scream in pain and Grey responds, “We failed her once. We will never fail her again.” If only that were true, if only.
- As we near the end of the Kanan series, that means we also near the end of Bria’s excellent Gif-filled reviews over at Tosche-Station. I’m hoping she’ll do those again for the upcoming Poe Dameron series which will replace this one in April (though Kanan #12 drops in March).
Kanan #11 resolves young Caleb’s tales with a mostly satisfying conclusion, minus the so-so villains, as we march to the sad realization this series will be over very soon.
+ Kanan’s brush with the dark side
+ Larraz’s art
– Lack of fleshed out villains
CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
The Last Padawan (#1-6) | First Blood: #7 | #8 | #9 | #10 | #12
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)