Star Wars: Kanan Vol. 2: First Blood: The backstory of Kanan Jarrus continues…

Star Wars: Kanan Vol. 2: First Blood by Greg WeismanStar Wars: Kanan Vol. 2: First Blood by Greg Weisman

Star Wars: Kanan Vol. 2: First Blood by Greg WeismanStar 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.

Published in 2016. Collects Kanan #7-12. Continue to explore the early days of Kanan Jarrus, the sensational star of Star Wars Rebels! You’ve seen Kanan’s last adventure as a Padawan, now witness his very first! The boy who was Caleb Dune must find his feet as the Clone Wars rage around him. When the Jedi Temple comes under attack, what can a mere Padawan do to make a difference? Caleb and his new Master, Depa Bilaba, will lead their own Clone troop into the furious Battle of Mygeeto. But lying in wait for them there are a pair of Separatist generals, one of whom is one of the most deadly threats in the entire galaxy! Can Caleb and Bilaba survive Grievous?

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REBECCA FISHER, with us since January 2008, earned a Masters degree in literature at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Her thesis included a comparison of how C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman each use the idea of mankind’s Fall from Grace to structure the worldviews presented in their fantasy series. Rebecca is a firm believer that fantasy books written for children can be just as meaningful, well-written and enjoyable as those for adults, and in some cases, even more so. Rebecca lives in New Zealand. She is the winner of the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best SFF Fan Writer.

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