Earlier this week, the news broke that Marvel’s Kanan comic series was coming to an end on issue 12. But with a few issues ahead of us, fans of the “Cowboy Jedi” still have time to learn about his beginnings. In this issue, we’re throwing back into the battle during the Clone Wars, with Kanan, his master Depa Billaba, and their battalion of clone troopers.
I’ve been waiting to spend more time with Master Billaba as a character for a while now — the comic began with the tragedy of her death, but the most recent arc shows her initial introduction to Kanan, and builds her character out more as a Jedi who has failed in the past and still struggles with her guilt. Flawed as that may be, Master Billaba has proven to be a multi-faceted woman, at peace with the Force as she raises questions about the decisions that the Council has been making. She is a capable teacher, and learns from her downfalls, fleshed out by the incredible artwork of Pepe Larraz and brought into a massive battle that she knows the Jedi should have never fought.
This issue sees the continuation and heartbreaking end of Kanan’s rivalry-slash-friendship with a teenage clone trooper nicknamed Stance, and it doesn’t skimp on the pain. Karan’s friend goes down slowly, gradually realizing what has happened, and slipping away from this world as a grizzly reminder of what can happen to anyone in the midst of war.
The tail end of the book would spell certain doom for our heroes if we weren’t already privy to their fates: the arrival of General Grievous and a Kage Warrior, clad in an out-of-this-world Samurai-inspired set of daunting armor.
Along with the masterfully crafted story (by Star Wars Rebels’ Greg Weisman), the action is at its’ highest in this issue. Along with Kanan’s flashbacks, his friends are struggling to protect his unconscious body from a horde of Stormtroopers back in the “present day” era of Rebels. Bouncing between the action, the reader is swept up in the conflict, and shown just how brutal the Clone Wars were.
While the past few issues focused on building story, something felt stagnant and distinctly out of place — but now it is front and center, a wonderful balance of gutting storylines and brilliantly illustrated battlefields. I’ll miss this comic, but at the very least, it’s making all the right moves in order to go out with a bang.