In Review: Kanan: The Last Padawan #7

Every Star Wars fan should be reading this book.

The cover: Depa Billaba is in a bacta tank and waves at the young padawan, who waves back at her. This is the first time that Kanan has seen this Jedi Master and he instantly feels a bond with her. The Force is telling the pair that they belong together as a team. Mark Brooks provided this cover and it’s a nice layout for a cover, but looking closely the details seem to crumble. Kanan’s face doesn’t look right and his hand that’s waving looks too tiny, while his left arm, barely visible under the cover’s text, looks huge. The medical droid in the background has a head that looks too round, and its eyes look freakishly human. On the positive side, Depa looks good. The coloring on this is also good, but two characters’ renderings make this odd. Overall grade: C

The story: This is a sensational story. Last issue had Kanan getting stabbed. This issue opens with him in a bacta tank as the crew of the Ghost frets over him. While the group ponders what to do, within the tank Kanan dreams of his past as a padawan. He sees himself at lightsaber training with two other students under Master Yoda’s eyes. When the Jedi Master gives him a quick pointer, another student attacks Caleb, with the other then running in to protect him. As the two hammer at one another, Caleb takes a bad step and falls back, giving himself a nasty crack to the back of his head. He’s barely bleeding, but Yoda orders him to the infirmary. Reluctantly he goes and in the process meets his master. Writer Greg Weisman takes this issue to show how Caleb and Depa became partnered and in the process gives some backstory to the Master herself and it’s amazing. Weisman has created an outstanding personality for Depa, giving her an outsider quality that foreshadows Caleb’s future self in becoming Kanan. Highlights include all of Page 9, all of 13 (Finally! I’ve been waiting to see someone on the Light Side do what Caleb does on this page!), the smiles on 14, and the bowed individual on 18 and 19. The last page has a terrific cliffhanger that left me not only pondering the fate of those in immediate jeopardy, but those who would be so audacious to do such a deed there. Overall grade: A+

The art: Pepe Larraz is unquestionably the best artist on any Star Wars title that Marvel has released since reacquiring the franchise. Take a look at the first page, with Kanan in the tank: he looks incredibly sad, floating unconscious. However, look in the foreground and you’ll find Ezra staring at the reader, looking completely lost in his master’s pain. It’s a nice contrast and an image that could be overshadowed by Kanan’s position and Zeb’s outburst. Beginning on Page 2 the flashback begins and it’s an absolute delight to see Yoda training his padawans and Kanan, back when he was Caleb, looking so darn young. Page 6 is the only full paged splash of the issue and it’s spectacular. There’s no fighting, no screaming, just silence as someone’s eyes lock on another. My heart skipped a beat at this fantastic page. On 9 I practically leapt out of my seat at the appearance of this pair of Jedi. There’s a double-paged splash montage that follows this to mark the passage of time and it also is amazing. The bottom of Page 20 is a silent sequence of five panels that has Larraz telling Weisman’s story incredibly, using characters’ reactions to create a bond that will leave the reader mirroring the younger character’s emotion. Every page is a jewel in the Star Wars saga. Overall grade: A+

The color: Also doing a bang up job on this book is colorist David Curiel. Look how he’s able to establish focus in the second panel on the introductory page by having everything but the bacta tank in dark colors; by having the tank done in a luminescent blue the reader’s eye can’t look anywhere else but there initially. With the point of view spun around in the following panel, everything goes wonderfully blue. When Caleb ignites his lightsaber on Page 3 the coloring is perfect! The wonderful blues return on Page 6 and they foreshadow Caleb’s future. There’s a spectacular sunset within the Jedi Temple on the top of Page 15. Just excellent. This is excellent work. Overall grade: A+  

The letters: I’ve taken VC’s Joe Caramagna to task for the font used in the dialogue on the Star Wars titles, and I’m still not thrilled with it, but lately I’ve taken Marvel to task for not letting him do something which I knew he could do: sound effects. It seems like a forever, but the lightsaber ignition sound on Page 2 was long overdue, and Caramagna rocks it. There are several sounds in this issue and every one of them is what this series, this line of books, needs. If anything, Caramagna should be allowed to put more sounds into this book and all the Star Wars titles he works on, because when he’s allowed to do so the panels truly reach their full potential. When lightsabers connect and there’s no sound, it’s like removing an entire section from an orchestra — you can still enjoy the music, but it’s woefully incomplete. Overall grade: B+

The final line: Every Star Wars fan should be reading this book. Outstanding story and art. 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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