Saturday, 12 December 2015

Star Wars: Kanan, Volume 1: The Last Padawan Review (Greg Weisman, Pepe Larraz)

Writer Greg Weisman takes his Star Wars Marvel comic in a slightly different direction than the others that’ve appeared this year by setting his before the original trilogy. Wuh-oh - that means we’re in prequel territory! But don’t worry, it’s begins right at the very end of Revenge of the Shit and afterwards the prequels are never mentioned again (except for one scene where the cowardly Obi-Wan pops up in a message - boo!). 

So what happens at the end of that movie? Well - spoilers - it sucked (“NOOOOOOOOO!!!”)! Also, the Emperor told all the clone troopers everywhere to “Execute Order Sixty-Six” turning them instantly from being allies to the Jedi, to shooting them all. Teen Padawan (Jedi apprentice) Caleb Dume’s master is shot and he escapes, making him...The Last Padawan! He must go on the run and survive from an Empire determined to wipe him out! 

Marvel’s Star Wars comics have been ok - nothing truly spectacular so far - but I had no knowledge of this character Kanan Bread. He’s apparently on this show called Star Wars: Rebels which I don’t watch. And that, coupled with the prequel stuff at the start, realllllly put me at odds with the book right away - and then, surprisingly, it started to win me over. 

If you’ve never seen Rebels either, it’s not a problem as this book is Kanan the Barbarian’s origin story where we see him go from Jedi Padawan Caleb Dume to Robin Hood-esque smuggler and secret Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus. Weisman is still saddled with the prequel’s bullshit though and can’t explain how clone troopers - those goofballs we’ve seen get cut down by the even more inept battle droids numerous times - can suddenly exterminate all of these superhero Jedi! But that’s on George Lucas, not Weisman, it’s just a shame that made it into this comic. 

The problem is there’s not really enough story for six issues - more like three, maybe four. It’s interesting to see Kanan become “orphaned” and have to survive on the streets before meeting alien smuggler Janus Kasmir (who’s drawn a bit like a green Majin Buu in his slimmer form), a kind of space Fagin who uses Kanan on his heists as, essentially, slave labour.

Then the story’s basically told. They go on some adventures, they have to save each other, and, because this whole thing is told in flashback, we have to wait for the moment when they part and Kanan decides to start his own band of space Merry Men (the characters whom, I assume, fans of the show will already know)!

Except… Janus never really felt like a bad guy. He’s a smuggler but so was Han Solo and that dude’s beloved! He gives up Kanan but he also saves him. Artist Pepe Larraz always draws him with that bad guy smirk (so you know he’s a villain!) but I don’t think he deserved what Kanan gave him when he decided he no longer needed him to survive. It made me kinda dislike Kanan actually! 

Also that subplot about the two clone troopers who were hunting Kanan was weeeeeak. Really, two clone troopers are gonna take it upon themselves to hunt down a Padawan? Aren’t they mindless, controlled by Palpatine? Why aren’t thousands of clone troopers after him - why just these two wannabe detectives? Because they once fought in a battle with them? Very tenuous stuff. 

Kanan: The Last Padawan isn’t an amazing Star Wars comic but then none of them are and it’s not as bad as some (Mark Waid’s Princess Leia). If you’re in the mood for Space Oliver Twist - with lightsabers! - check it out.

Star Wars: Kanan, Volume 1: The Last Padawan

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