“I’ve never been on my own. As a youngling, I went straight from my homeworld to the Jedi Temple, and from the temple, straight to the war. I learned how to think, how to meditate, how to fight–but no one ever taught me how to survive.” – Caleb Dume
Kanan has always been the canon comic book series that I’ve been the most interested in reading. Why it took my so long to finally get around to it is unknown, but I finally read it. I think with this new “Disney” era of Star Wars, I’ve been sort of starved for new stories set in the prequel era. Combine that with my love of Star Wars Rebels and Kanan just seems like the perfect fit for me.
The Last Padawan takes us right back to the Clone War, when Kanan Jarrus was a young Padawan named Caleb Dume. Caleb serves with his master, Depa Billaba. Right off the bat this comic references my all-time favorite Star Wars novel, Shatterpoint. At the end of that novel, Depa Billaba ends up in a comatose state (perhaps as a way to explain why she never appeared in Revenge of the Sith). Kanan, however, takes place sometime after that, making vague references to the events of Shatterpoint, with Kanan saying “a few months ago, Master Depa Billaba emerged from–well, whatever it is she emerged from.” At one point in the comic, a character called General Kleeve is impressed with Billaba and remarks “we were told she was unstable. Obiviously, that intelligence is now suspect.” Kind of fun little connective tissue between the stories, even if Shatterpoint is Legends while Kanan is canon.
Depa Billaba and the clones point out that Caleb Dume asks a lot of questions, which aligns well with what we see in the prologue of the canon novel A New Dawn, which has a young Caleb Dume asking a lot of questions in the Jedi Temple.
Something I found to be super interesting was that while Caleb is speaking with Depa, she tells him “I believe the Jedi Order made a crucial error in taking military titles.” There are Jedi who don’t approve of what has come of the order, and who don’t like where it’s going. Ahsoka Tano and Barriss Offee also feel this way in The Clone Wars. Not every Jedi is on the same page. Including Jedi Masters like Depa Billaba, who served on the Jedi High Council!
It felt good to be reading a Clone Wars story again. It felt even better to read a Clone Wars story about a character who I consider an original trilogy-era character. I always love seeing the prequel era connect with the original trilogy era. While in Star Wars Rebels it took me quite a while to warm up to most of the main cast, Kanan and Hera were the two characters I liked from the very beginning. We know from the show that Kanan does not trust clone troopers (and rightfully so), but it’s kind of heartbreaking to see that the clones who turned against him and murdered his master during Order 66 weren’t just random clone troopers, but very close friends of his. Obviously that’s gonna mess a kid up.
One of my favorite things is getting to see the clones after Order 66. They all just obey it. They don’t question it. They are programmed to obey Order 66 blindly, and they do. But one clone, Commander Grey, begins to realize that the Jedi never did anything wrong, and that when Order 66 was ordered, it felt like he was under some kind of a spell. I want to know how many other clones–if any–ever came to that realization after what happened.
Most of the story in this arc is Kanan trying to hide after Order 66, trying to stay alive while avoiding the clone troopers who are still hunting him down. Something I didn’t expect, was that in the sixth issue, we jump ahead to sometime during the first couple of seasons of Star Wars Rebels. In this issue, Kanan–along with the Ghost crew–return to the planet that Kanan was on when Order 66 was put into effect. I wasn’t expecting to see a adult Kanan story, but it was actually one of my favorite parts of the entire thing, and it all connected very closely to his past. It was a great way to end this arc of the series. And it ends on a cliffhanger, making me want to read more.
Kanan: The Last Padawan is a fun origin story for the beloved Star Wars Rebels character. It works as an origin, and it works as a great way to connect the prequel era of Star Wars to the original trilogy era. Though not really a must-read, I would recommend this to any fan of Rebels who wants more stories with the characters of the show. While the first five issues are just about Kanan, the sixth issue actually feels like a Rebels comic, as it includes the whole main cast of the show.