With season 2 of Star Wars Rebels just around the corner, you would think it makes sense for Marvel to begin a comic series that focuses on the crew of the Ghost in order to whet our appetites and give us a unique look at the cast.
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It does, but the headscratcher is how Marvel chose to go about it. We are getting essentially spinoff episodes of Rebels, but instead of making it its own series, the company is tying it into the Kanan comic series, and I’m not too sure that’s a smart move.
While the first five issues of this series (then known as Kanan: The Last Padawan, but now rebranded to drop that qualifier), Kanan #6 catapults us into the Rebels timeline, with Kanan Jarrus leading the crew of the Ghost on a routine mission to the planet Kaller. The trip, however, brings back nightmarish memories for Kanan, who was on the planet when Order 66 was implemented, leading to the death of his master and forcing him to run for his life.
While his crew is just landing briefly to pick up some milk for the struggling residents of Tarkintown back on the planet of Lothal, they find the crates ransacked and are forced to search for the smuggler in the nearby Plateau City. Kanan decides to go off on his own, and encounters an alien he recognizes from his past. It’s not long before he’s ambushed by the alien’s crew, and although he defeats them easily, he’s mortally wounded.
While it’s clear that Marvel wants this series to be a companion piece to Rebels, that connection is dragging the story down rather than giving it the lift it needs. If this comic line is focused on Kanan and his past, why make Zeb, Ezra, Hera, Sabine and Chopper part of it? All those characters are only in the first third of this issue before the focus shifts entirely to Kanan, so it seems pointless and frustrating to even include them at all.
Kanan’s story itself is promising but also doesn’t reveal much more than we already know. He’s still haunted by his traumatic experiences on Kaller, which new artist Jacopo Camagni illustrates by inserting hallucinations of charatcers from Kanan’s past into the panels. It’s a bit of an obvious technique, but it works well with the series’ narration-heavy panels to immerse us in Kanan’s paranoid state of mind.
The art overall continues being superb, capturing the highly stylized, vibrant shade of the Rebels animation. Even though they weren’t in the issue that much, I particularly liked the design of the rest of the Ghost crew, especially Ezra and Sabine, each given a much more mature look than their depiction in the TV series.
The series represents a chance for writer Greg Weisman to return to the foundation he helped build (he was a showrunner on the first season of Rebels, but he is not a part of season 2). But that’s exactly what’s preventing this series from joining its more superb brethren. It needs to decide whether it wants to solely feature Kanan, or incorporate larger roles for the rest of the Rebels crew as well. Having both just isn’t an option.