– Spoiler Review –
The Kanan series comes to a close in #5, a masterful piece of work which not only pays off all the pain, heartbreak, and emotional beats from the previous issues, but also ties up the story with thrilling aplomb and surprise. With issue #5, Kanan – The Last Padawan cements itself as Marvel’s strongest Star Wars series to date.
I’ve read #5 a few times over now and each time is practically as thrilling as the last, with the pace never really letting up and some of the series’ bigger questions get answers in one fell swoop. It’s a blessing to know Greg Weisman will be back for the second Kanan arc because it’s hard for me to imagine this series without him, as his storytelling and character work really sell all the emotional beats he’s aiming for. Reading the first five issues as a whole, The Last Padawan arc feels like a mini-movie/episode(s) of a TV show, but it finds ways to dig deeper than those mediums can. On top of Weisman storytelling, Pepe Larraz’s art prevents the action from being confusing and adds the extra tension or emotional weight to a scene (especially in facial expressions), while David Curiel’s colors top it all off with the subtlest of additions. This team has been a powerhouse throughout the entire series and their A game is still present here to the very last panel.
#5 finds young Caleb in the clutches of Styles and Grey, his ex-friend clones, who are shipping him back to Kaller. In the last few issues the clones have felt like a pair of merciless hunting machines, but their more human nature (seen in #1) returns, as Caleb tries to reason with his old friends. Among this issue’s many outstanding moments, I found Caleb trying to reason with them one of my favorites because I don’t believe we’ve ever seen it before, considering most (see: all) Jedi who were killed in Order 66 didn’t get a chance to say anything to their suddenly traitorous friends. Having Grey overcome the programming thanks to Caleb’s emotional plea and airlock hijinks was a pretty stellar character moment and it also builds on what fans had gotten to know about clones thanks to The Clone Wars: even they can be important, interesting, and unique characters/individuals.
Speaking of individuals, how excellent was it to see Kasmir and Kleeve teaming up to save Caleb? Better yet was their conversation, mid-battle, about how neither really understand why they were doing it in the first place (I laughed rather hard when I read it). Thanks to the character interaction building up throughout the series so far, it’s not hard to guess why: they’ve been affected in different ways by spending any length of time with the caring young Caleb: Kasmir finds a reliable partner and willing learner, someone who he can pass his skills onto but also trust, while Kleeve sees his chance to jump back into combat against an enemy, like what he relished during the Clone Wars. With the second arc seeing Hera take the Rebels crew to Kaller (in the season 1 timeline), could we perhaps be seeing one or both of these two rogues who helped free Caleb again?
I think they’d be both surprised and delighted by the Caleb they’d get to meet in the “present,” as Kanan is more like the Caleb they knew than the Caleb who left them, without so much a thanks and a burning desire to not form attachments in fear of more potential friends getting hurt. But the fact that Caleb makes the choice to leave Kasmir, in fear of watching the Kalleran come to harm some time in the future because of him, due to the pain he feels over the deaths of Grey and Styles is the most interesting part of this issue. Despite their hand in Depa Billaba’s death and being hounded by them for months, Caleb still cared for them in some way, since even though he seemed happy and eager to destroy their ship, the reality that they died still shocked him because in his mind, somewhere, they were still friends. While the need to avoid such pain and loss with his newest friend in Kasmir is what pushes him to adapt his nomadic, non-attachment filled lifestyle up until A New Dawn, his teachings to Ezra Bridger about attachments being important to opening up oneself to the Force (in Rebels S1, “Empire Day“) juxtapose with his mindset in #5 nicely. The trappings of a true and powerfully wise Jedi are hiding somewhere beneath the surface of Kanan and just above the buried Caleb and I wouldn’t be surprised we see that part of him come to the forefront before his story in Star Wars is through. Until then, bask in the powerful moment in #5 where he sheds Caleb and finally becomes Kanan Jarrus, an expert pay off of to this series’ promise of showing his secret history.
Here are a few other things:
- A recent re-read of A New Dawn left me feeling like the novel is comparable to a fine wine, aging wonderfully since soaking in Star Wars Rebels and the Kanan series, gaining heaps more of emotional heft for both Kanan and Hera’s parts. If you haven’t read it yet and have been reading/watching either or both Kanan and Rebels, pick AND up (and maybe wait for this upcoming dual-novel release to get it). If you have already read it, add it to your list of rereads. Also, it’ll get you prepared to see Rae Sloane again in the upcoming Aftermath.
- Speaking of AND, Caleb not liking to be called kid was first brought up in the novel, something I had forgotten until my re-read.
- One more AND note: In the hardcover edition, chapter 34, page 224, the following lines have a lot more meaning now after reading these first five issues of Kanan, “Kanan, of course, knew all about being cut adrift with no guidance as to what to do next. He’d figured out the secret: never again identifying with anything or anyone so much that losing it left him with no other option.” We see that begin here in #5, which is cool when you consider AND came out last year and it’s author, John Jackson Miller, didn’t know about this comic.
- It’s never explained how Kasmir and Kleeve managed to get free and mount their rescue mission, but they’d certainly have the means and the skills to do so.
- So Moraga, the planet
CalebKanan first visits hasn’t appeared in Legends or canon before…but in fanon. Wonder if that was a coincidence since it’s a city in California (which is way more likely source for the name) or if they liked the idea of the fanon planet?
- The next issue takes place in the “present” of Rebels S1, while the four issues after that will comprise of the second arc, which tells a tale earlier in Caleb’s padawan life set before the events of The Last Padawan arc.
- Again, a fantastic gif-filled review over at Tosche-Station from Bria, who manages to sum up everything I’ve written in picture form and I love it.
- While it seems the group of aging clones in the upcoming Star Wars Rebels Season Two, including Captain Rex, most likely had their inhibitor chips removed, Grey proves they can overcome it on their own too. Maybe Rex was the first to overcome it and he managed to help the others?
- While I speculated the reason for Kleeve and Kasmir helping Caleb is due to Caleb good nature rubbing off on them, Pep-No on tumblr argues it was all just the will of the Force.
- The final panel is beautiful.
I’ve been very positive about this series so far, but with good reason, as they’ve managed to craft a solid, well told tale in a neatly wound five issue package which would’ve left me satisfied even if there weren’t to be any more issues. Kanan – The Last Padawan is an absolute must-read from the current Marvel stock of comics and #5 not only put the icing on the cake, but all the decorations you could dream of too.
+ Thrilling conclusion to first arc
+ Emotional pay offs
+ Story/character pay offs
I think I’ll end the review with this tearjerker (everyone can thank lorna-ka for the incredible work!):
CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
The Last Padawan: #1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #6 | First Blood (#7-12)
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)