Yes, I know we are all no doubt awaiting our Thursday night/Friday morning viewings of The Force Awakens. If you are looking for something to occupy that breathe between whatever SW marathon you have running and the time you spend waiting in line, Marvel has got you covered this week. Not only have they put out two mind-blowing Annuals, last week with the titular and this week with Vader (fellow reviewer Hard Case will get you up to speed on that), they managed to throw in another great issue of Kanan. This should also help you Rebels fans get your fix until January.
Our favorite rebels are still holed up in a facility contemplating their next move. Kanan floats in his Bacta-tank, drifting through his own memories of being a youngling and eventually finding his master, Depa Billaba, who has taken him on as a Padawan. His mind returns to their first mission together, on a planet called Kardoa.
The Jedi general is reunited with some of her original battalion commanders. They all seem pleased enough to see their former commander, but Billaba has not forgotten the massacre the Clone Troopers bore witness to. These Kanan books have really underscored the value the Jedi put in their relationships with the Clones and saw them as much more than canon fodder. Billaba is haunted by the deaths on her conscience, which pushes the hushed disgrace other Jedi whispered about her in earlier issues to a very distant second place.
The Jedi and their squad of Clone Troopers, from inexperienced and seasoned, have arrived on the business of reconnaissance: confirm a Separatist presence. I imagine there were many missions going on like these throughout the Clone Wars, whether it involved a planet or star system, just to find the elusive Separatist ships. As much as the Clone Wars depiction in the series and the films seemed to present straight-up fights, we know big names like Grievous and Dooku seldom sat still.
Looks like the Republic has a good reason to be on Kardoa. It’s our old buddy, General Kleeve, who we now know is a very practical and fair military person. Kleeve sees no use in risking a costly count of battle droids to a strike on someone like Depa Billaba and a small squad of Clone Troopers. Others in the Separatist camp disagree.
Well, Clone Troopers come in all sizes this issue. Kanan/Caleb and this younger Clone become fast friends. It’s touching, if not a tad bit disturbing, to see these children acting as children, then as soldiers in a very violent war. I know this is fiction and I’m not trying to get too “real world” on you guys, but there are so many terrible conflicts in our own world and human history when children have been handed weapons at a young age. We see Kanan and this young man laughing like kids, when combat could be in front of them at any moment. It hits home all the more when we know where Kanan ends up at the end of this war.
As you can see, the Jedi and the Clone Troopers are traversing some very difficult terrain. It’s forced them to move single-file and the art gives you the sense it is a very narrow, claustrophobic sort of canyon they are descending into. This was the best frame I could find to illustrate the point and it is also the moment where Billaba senses that they may have found exactly what they were supposed to be looking for.
This was my favorite frame in the book, quite possibly the whole series. Caleb/Kanan. Caleb unleashed. We know that Jedi resort to igniting their lightsabers as a last resort, but part of me cheered to see this kid getting into the action. Caleb has really grown on me over the course of this series. It’s hard for me to swallow that grumpy Kanan we know from Rebels was ever this young. Like Caleb, I feel exhilarated and young when I read these stories about his time with the Jedi. It makes me feel that Ezra Bridger is really waking up Caleb inside his teacher each time I watch Rebels. Once again, I’m really happy Greg Weisman is providing some fluidity between this series and Rebels.
You’ll see when you read it, but what goes up must always come down. Caleb doesn’t become Obi-Wan Kenobi, I’ll just say that. I know there is a whole lot of other things Star Wars going on this week, but if you’ve been following this series, there is not a reason in the world to stop this week. Like I said, bring a whole stack of comics with you to your place in line for TFA. Get excited, everyone! What you’ve been reading in these pages the last year happened in the same universe as the one that’s about to unfold on the big screen! Have one last look around those pages for any TFA Easter eggs you or I speculated may be hiding out. Once that curtain goes up there is no going back, but I’m kind of glad.
Oh, yeah, back to Kanan. Looks like someone we know is showing up next time…