On to my second Rebels review for the day: Star Wars: A New Hero by Lucasfilm Story Group legend Pablo Hidalgo!
First, I have to talk about the insight into the rebels’ world that this book provides. The content is told through the eyes of Ezra Bridger, who is the main protagonist of the television series. The information he gives serves as an introduction for the reader into the time and place that the series occupies in Star Wars canon. The descriptions of Lothal, its position in the far reaches of the Outer Rim, and its people lead right up to the subject of the Imperial presence, which is, for the most part, is not presently met with a warm welcome by Lothal’s denizens. Ezra goes on to shed some light on the Imperials themselves, and how their activities are affecting everyone planetside. The results of the Empire’s takeover is as expected: disastrous for most of the innocent civilians, beneficial for only the arrogant and wealthy.
Which brings us to a discussion of the rebels crew. I liked seeing the rebels through Ezra’s eyes. Through his detailing of his induction into their group and his interactions with each character individually, we begin to see that Ezra regards them as more like a family than just mere fellow patriots. This felt very much like the original trilogy, in which the principal characters (Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewbacca) formed a sort of familial group with their love and devotion to one another. The rebels are passionate about what they do, which is to try and ease the Empire’s steel grip on the citizens of Lothal. Ezra is both puzzled and awed by this, which furthers the idea that Ezra, though by no means totally selfish, has gotten into the habit of being concerned with only himself. That, however, is about to change, though it will take effort on his part.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this book are Ezra’s descriptions of Kanan, the Force, and the Inquisitor. Kanan is clearly being set up as the Jedi mentor, here, and I really like the direction his teachings are going. He speaks of the Force as a “mystical energy,” and encourages Ezra to train in the ways of the Jedi so that he can become a part of something bigger than his life right now, something bigger than Ezra can even imagine. I have to stress my love for this idea. It’s getting back to the mythic, mysterious roots of the Force, as it was first introduced in A New Hope and expounded upon later in The Empire Strikes Back.
Kanan wants Ezra to trust in the Force, rather than use it as a tool for evil purposes like the Inquisitor does. As for the Inquisitor himself, he is shaping up to be Public Enemy #1 for Kanan and Ezra. Both of the protagonists find him “scary,” and little wonder. The man has a spinning lightsaber and eats raw meat.
Of course, the star of the story was the moral (as it often is), which is stated rather nicely at the end with, “So don’t be afraid of the Empire. Believe in something bigger than it. Believe in yourself.” I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes the overall message of the entire series. I’m glad for it, because that’s one of the best things about Star Wars, in my opinion: the message. The struggle. The belief in something bigger than your enemies, bigger than even yourself. The struggle to believe in yourself. If that’s the direction this show is going, then then I say: Punch it, Disney!
This review would not be complete without mentioning the other star of this book, which is the art. The art is very beautiful; it has polish and a semblance of realism, despite being cartoon-like. There are a lot of illustrations, which makes this book not only food for the brain with all its facts and insight, but also food for the eyes and the imagination.
If you appreciate art (like Sabine) and Star Wars literature, then you will like this book. It’s also a great place to start if you would like an introduction into Star Wars Rebels before you watch the premiere. Being illustrated and told through the eyes of the show’s youngest protagonist, it might be a good addition to your youngling’s library, as well.
Star Wars: A New Hero is available TODAY on Amazon.com, here.