In Review: Kanan #9

This is what a Star Wars comic should be. Absolutely recommended.

The cover: Padawan Caleb Dume yells as he lunges from a rocky cliff, followed by his Jedi Master Depa Billaba. The rage on his face is great, the focus on her is awesome, and their poses spectacular. I love everything about this cover by Mark Brooks. This scene does occur in this issue, but he’s rightly created this image from the villains’ point of view, so readers will be surprised to see who the Jedi are going after. Simply outstanding. Overall grade: A+

The story: The first page is set in the present on Kaller, at a medcenter. The gang from Star Wars Rebels is surrounded by a group of stromtroopers who are giving them their final warning to surrender. They can’t do anything because Kanan is recovering from a wound in a bacta tank. As he heals, he remembers his past as Caleb, training under Master Depa Billaba. They’re on Kardoa; it’s his first mission with his master, and her first mission since coming out of a six month coma. They greet their clone troopers, Commander Grey, Captain Styles, Sergeant Soot, and Corporal Big-Mouth. They are there “to confirm or refute reports of a Separatist presence on Kardoa.” This is a simple build up by writer Greg Weisman and he moves this story into fantastic territory. The first indication of trouble is what’s shown in the final panel on Page 4. Two villains are then shown conversing, with their true leader not shown. There’s an excellent comedic moment at the top of 9, which deflates some of the tension in what the troopers and Jedi are doing, and things go horribly wrong on 10 and 11, with one character doing something reckless. I actually gasped at what occurs on 15 and cheered like a ten year old with the response on 17. The final page is nothing short of fantastic in the reveal and what the character says. This story is why Star Wars continues to endure. Overall grade: A+

The art: The illustrations on this book by Pepe Larraz are stunning. In the very first panel readers are thrust into another universe due to the architecture, the people, and the skyline. If seeing the stormtroopers, the aliens, and the bacta tank don’t take you elsewhere, the full page splash of Page 2 showing Jarrus and Billaba training will send you soaring. The campfire scene with the troopers is gorgeous. The interior of the villains’ ship excellent, the antagonists look great, and I was incredibly curious as to whom their leader was, since all that’s shown is the character’s back. The emotion that Larraz can give his static characters is amazing; look at Pages 7 and 8 to see the look on the unhelmeted trooper, Billaba’s response, Jarrus’s anger, and the humorous imitation by the trooper at the bottom of 8, which carries over into three fantastic panels on 9. No dialogue is needed by Weisman to communicate to reader what’s going on in these three panels because Larraz’s illustrations are so good. Kardoa is an incredible world. Saying it’s rocky and contains many outcroppings and strange formations does a huge disservice to what Larraz does in bringing this world to life. It’s staggeringly beautiful, until the action starts up, and then things are are as fierce as anything from any Star Wars film. The final page is magnificent for the surprise and the absolute power that Larraz brings to this character. This is what fans want their Star Wars comics to look like. Overall grade: A+

The colors: David Curiel is doing a fantastic job on this book’s colors. The coloring of the bacta tank, and Kanan within it, are outstanding, bringing focus to the unit instantly, though the readers are obviously curious as to what his friends are going to do. The book explodes with fantastic desert colors on the splash on Page 2. Check out the highlights he puts around the characters in the second panel on Page 3 to make everyone stand out against the dark night sky. And the fire’s colors on the same page are excellent. Curiel shows himself to be a master, though, when he colors the rocky structures the troopers are travelling through: he kicks the illustrations up to museum quality with the superior coloring. The action sequences are electric with oranges, reds, and blues in play. The top of Page 17 is fantastic. Curiel makes this book shine. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue and narration (the same font), one villain’s unique font, yells, sounds, and the story’s title are all crafted by VC’s Joe Caramagna. The dialogue and narration font continue to look too weak for this series (and franchise), but I was ecstatic to see some sounds in a Star Wars comic, and Caramagna aced these: lightsabers ignited, blasters fired, and plenty of explosions. The action sequences are so much better because Caramagna got to insert these. Overall grade: B+

The final line: This is what a Star Wars comic should be. An undeniably cool story with luscious artwork. Absolutely recommended. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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