Star Wars: Kanan Vol. 2: First Blood by Greg Weisman
Star Wars: Kanan Vol. 2: First Blood is the second collection of comics in an ongoing series that details the mysterious past of Kanan Jarrus, a main character of the animated television show Star Wars Rebels who — as a teenage Jedi Padawan — managed to escape the purge that wiped the rest of the Order out. Having joined the Rebellion as part of the crew of the Ghost, Kanan now finds himself increasingly haunted by his past as he and his team-mates start visiting planets he inhabited while still known as Caleb Dume.
Set within the framing device of the Ghost crew watching over Kanan’s unconscious body as it heals in a bacta tank, we delve back into the former Jedi’s memories — and this time they’re set further back in time than those of Star Wars: Kanan Vol. 1: The Last Padawan. The last issue explored his life in the years following Order 66; now he’s a child at the Jedi Temple, where he meets his master Depa Billaba for the first time.
Depa has her own dark backstory, having survived a mission that killed ninety percent of her men and left her in a coma for six months, but she and her new Padawan get along swimmingly. The comic covers such adventures as their intervention in an attack against the Jedi Temple (one designed to demonstrate the vulnerability of the Order), Kanan’s first military operation in the Clone Wars when he was still just a child, and Depa’s second confrontation with General Grievous.
As a long-time fan of writer Greg Weisman, I recognized some aspects of his writing style: his interest in the multiple meanings of certain words (like Kanan’s complicated relationship with the word “run”), of gaining the perspective of all sides of any complex issue (here the Separatists are as certain of their own rightness as the Jedi) and firm grasp of timelines and continuity. There are plenty of little cameos, from a glimpse of Anakin and Artoo, a small but important role for Fenn Rau, and a reappearance from Captain Rae Sloane, first introduced in the tie-in novel A New Dawn.
(That said, he can sometimes go a little overboard in the call-backs and repetition of certain phrases. Between this issue and the last, Kanan objects to being called “a kid” no less than FIFTEEN times. Yeesh.)
But the artwork from Pepe Larraz and Andrea Broccardo is fantastic; so full of energy and personality, and it all combines to create a compelling look at a young Kanan, from his straightforwardness in asking questions to his quick-thinking in battle. And it’s great to read about a male/female platonic relationship in which the boy is the student and the woman the teacher — it’s a dynamic that you hardly ever see, though thankfully its uniqueness isn’t commented upon in the story itself, but simply allowed to exist.
I eagerly await Volume Three.