In October 2014 at New York Comic Con, Marvel Comics announced the fourth title in its Star Wars line, Kanan: The Last Padawan. This book is an ongoing series and the kickoff five-issue arc is written by Star Wars Rebels season one co-executive producer Greg Weisman. While Weisman is no longer working on the series, he influenced season one heavily and he continues to shape the character of Kanan Jarrus in this story.
The creative team behind Kanan: The Last Padawan also features art by Pepe Larraz, colors by David Curiel, and letters by Joe Caramagna. The main cover art for issue #1 is done by Mark Brooks.
With the Star Wars franchise moving forward towards Episode VII and spin-off films, the emphasis of the franchise’s storytelling has shifted away from the Prequel eras and back in the direction of the Original Trilogy. With this shift came an abrupt halt to The Clone Wars animated series and a transformation of the Expanded Universe into Legends. As a longtime fan of the quilted tapestry of storytelling that was the Star Wars galaxy before these changes, I have had to unlearn much of what I spent many hours learning. While I fully endorsed the move and the new storytelling possibilities that it opens up for us, there is still part of me that feels a loss of the characters and stories from Legends and the unfinished stories from The Clone Wars.
As a fan of Star Wars generally, Legends, The Clone Wars and Rebels, Weisman has created a story in this first issue that touches all of these bases and left this fan about as happy as Palpatine unleashing Force lightning.
The Last Padawan introduces us to a young padawan named Caleb Dume, who sees his first action in the Clone Wars under Jedi Master Depa Billaba on the planet Kaller in the closing moments of the Clone Wars. Fans of the animated series The Clone Wars will love this issue, it has Jedi, Clones, Droids and the Separatist commander villain of the week in the new General Kleeve.
Weisman begins the issue with a framing page set in current Rebels time before jumping back 15 years to the events on Kaller at the close of the Clone Wars. The bulk of the issue is devoted to the relationship between Depa and Caleb and does a wonderful job fleshing out the relationship and where each character is at during this moment. Fans of the Legends stories should recognize events that Weisman alludes to in Depa’s background (see Matthew Stover’s Shatterpoint).
From pacing, to character development, to a dramatic cliffhanger ending, I loved Weisman’s work on this issue.
Well matched for Weisman’s storytelling skill is the superlative artwork by Pepe Larraz. Comic art tastes vary just as greatly as the art styles themselves. Of the four books so far (Star Wars, Darth Vader, Princess Leia and Kanan) Larraz’s artwork is by far my favorite and it isn’t even close.
This is a book that will appeal to Star Wars fans no matter what part of the saga timeline their preferences fall upon. Marvel has a winner on its hands with this title and I can’t wait for more.