In Review: Kanan – The Last Padawan #1

A fantastic origin begins with spectacular art. Recommended.

The covers: The Main cover is an excellent illustration by Mark Brooks. Against the backdrop of Coruscant, Depa Billaba protects her padawan Caleb Dume as they are surrounded by clone troopers after Order 66 has been enacted. Above this tense scene, Kanan silently acknowledging how this moment charted his present course. Excellent image with outstanding coloring. The shine coming off the troopers’ armor is great. There are several Variant covers, once again not mentioned on the inside cover, so fans, like me, are busy scrambling the Internet to see what they are. I have no idea why Marvel doesn’t want to promote them, because Star Wars fans, such as me, are serious collectors. There’s a textless version of the Mark Brooks’s cover. It’s really nice. The Scottie Young Variant has a tiny Caleb slashing several droids apart. Their blaster shots are going wild while his blue lightsaber cleaves one in half. Good image against a white background, which highlights the colors. Using the computer generated character from Star Wars Rebels, there’s a Rebels Variant with Kanan having his pistol and lightsaber drawn, running forward, against a deep blue light speed effect. Excellent! There’s also a really cool Kilian Plunkett Variant with Kanan, a clone trooper, Depa Billaba, and the Emperor. This is the image I’m using in this review, and I wish I could have picked this up at my local comic book store. Overall grades: Main A, Textless Variant A+, Young Variant A, Rebels Variant A+, and Plunkett Variant A+.

The story: The issue opens with the crew of the Ghost on a “milk run” to Kaller. This prompts a reaction in Kanan which creates the flashback tale for the entire issue. “Fight” by Greg Weisman explodes right in the middle of the action as Jedi Master Depa Billaba and her padawan Caleb Dume are fighting back to back, surrounded by their loyal clone troopers, as they try to beat back a horde of droid soldiers. As he’s flipping, fighting, and swinging his saber, Caleb thinks about what took him to his planet and had Billaba pick him as her padawan. The story then moves to the two opposing leaders, General Kleeve and Gamut Key. The fighting is fierce, but the highlight of the book comes on Pages 12 – 18. Without spoiling things, this is what I wanted to see in Caleb/Kanan’s past and Weisman delivered it superbly. I was hanging on every word between the characters. This is giving me what I desperately wanted from the prequels. And just as things start to get comfortable, something infamous occurs on Page 19 leading to the worst possible cliffhanger on 20. This is going to be good! Overall grade: A+ 

The art: This book is stunning to look at. Pepe Larraz makes this book look equally beautiful and strong. The strong comes first, with some of the most intense battle scenes shown in a Star Wars comic. The double-paged spread on Pages 2 and 3 is a powerhouse entrance into the Clone Wars. These two pages instantly confirm this book’s epic status. When Caleb goes into action he’s moving like a Jedi Master–Page 4 is amazing. I love how his cloak is billowing around him as he battles the bots. When he and Billaba mirror each other’s moves it’s beautiful, as one would expect from Jedi when they fight. The two villains are wonderfully designed, with the General looking a monster and Key looking like a smug jerk. Within two pages I wanted to see them taken down just because of the way they looked. In addition to the exceptionally well drawn characters are the exceptionally well drawn backgrounds and settings. Page 9 is beautiful in the carnage, and 13 and 16 are like looking at visual poetry. This is the beautiful of the book. And if you think it’s too pretty, read the last page and realize what’s coming. Overall grade: A+

The colors: David Curiel provides perfect coloring on this book. I knew by the final panel on Page 1 that this book was going to have exceptional colors. Look at all the sick detail done in just that panel: the lights behind Kanan, the light reflecting off the rest of the characters–it’s wonderful. The explosion of oranges on the double-page spread is amazing. But don’t just look at the large image, look at the first two panels showing the faces of Kanan. Spectacular! Overall grade: A+

The letters: I haven’t been fond of VC’s Joe Caramagna’s lettering on the other Star Wars books, and this issue is more of the same. I continue to believe that the letters are too thin, making each character’s voice look frail. A different font is needed to buff these strong characters up. Overall grade: C+

The final line: A fantastic origin begins with spectacular art. 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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