Review: Star Wars: Kanan

Firstly, I need to start this review by saying that I do not like comic books or graphic novels. I actually have a harder time following the action when it is drawn out in pictures than when it is written out for me. Plus, if I’m going to read something, I would like to imagine it for myself, rather than have a picture somebody else came up with. For some reason, I feel that the images on the page cannot fully convey the emotion that books or movies can. Maybe if I grew up reading comic books, I would feel differently. That being said, I nevertheless enjoyed the two series of comics about Kanan Jarrus put out by Marvel Comics : Star Wars: Kanan, and Star Wars: Kanan: First Blood. There are a lot of tie-ins with both the shows Rebels and The Clone Wars, as well as a tie-in with the novel A New Dawn.

The first series of six issues begins with the crew of the Ghost on their way to the planet Kaller, to get supplies for the starved and needy citizens of Tarkintown on Lothal. Upon learning they are going to Kaller, Kanan gets lost in horrified memory—because this is the planet is the place where his Master, Depa Billaba, was killed. The first five issues are set in his flashback—remembering her death, remembering how he survived, and how he was subsequently hunted down by clones. The sixth issue cuts back to present day, where Kanan has to find the missing supplies and is injured in the process. The second series of issues begins with Kanan in a bacta tank, and we see his memories go back even farther to before he was chosen as Billaba’s Padawan. It shows how Billaba chose him and then how he was sent out to fight in the war. There is plenty of action and complex military politics (in a good way!), along with a great fight scene with General Grievous. The final issue, just as in the first series, cuts back to present day, and Kanan goes on a mission to help an old friend, along with the help of Ezra Bridger. I think what I liked best about the stories was that it was not just a direct, “Here is the history of Kanan Jarrus.” It was presented enveloped inside a story with its own separate plot. I have always enjoyed the “story within a story” format, so that was a definite bonus—it felt like I was watching an episode of Star Wars Rebels with flashbacks included. The plotting was tight and well done—no space or words were wasted or unnecessary.

The artwork is pretty good, though not being one for comics and graphic novels, I cannot say I am much of a reliable judge on the matter. Still, even for me, I was able to follow the action and story fairly easily. I liked that it felt enough like the show to be recognizable, but distinctly its own. The character proportions were drawn more realistically, particularly when it comes to the ratios of head size to body size—this is likely due to the fact that CGI has to skew proportions in order to avoid uncanny valley in a way that 2D artwork does not have to.

I also loved the characterization of Kanan. He is, as the title of the comics would suggest, center stage. I already liked Kanan’s character from the show, and the comics only reinforced that. I loved the introduction of the scalawag character Janus Kasmir, a ne’er-do-well who takes Kanan under his wing—even after delivering a great line where he says, “Kid, I get it. You’re used to following a master, so you’re in the market for a new one…trouble is, I’m not in the market for a padawan.” Seeing more about Depa Billaba’s story is really cool too—since I haven’t seen anything in the new canon about her other than her brief appearance in Episode I. The fight between her and General Grievous is really cool and well-drawn. I do have to say, I wasn’t as crazy about the way the Clones were represented in the comics. Firstly, they seemed like a completely different ethnicity than they appear in the movie and shows. Secondly, while the comic gives them some character development, they don’t really have enough depth when they reach the pinnacle of their character arc—at least in my opinion.

All in all, the Kanan comics are a fun read. I wouldn’t say they are a must-read, but if you are looking for something to fill the time while you wait for The Last Jedi and season four of Rebels, this is worth reading—even if you don’t especially like comics.


Image of Kanan comic books is taken of my own personal copies and used for editorial and review purposes only.

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Flash Fiction Friday: Children of the Day

Ankh leaned her back against the wall of the classroom, holding the butt of her laser gun tightly against her shoulder. Footstep after footstep drew nearer. She pressed a finger to her lips, signaling to the radiant five-year-old children who hid beneath their desks—not that it did them any good. The shimmering bio-luminescence of their skin cast shadows, even in the brightly halogen-lit room.

“All you children!” shouted a deep, booming voice. “Look at yourselves! Hiding as if already in shadow. Night will overcome you.”

Ankh closed her eyes for a moment, lost in the sound of her own heart pounding. The children let out stifled whimpers.

Why them? Ankh thought, adjusting her sunglasses. The children had done no wrong. They did not ask for the genetic anomaly that caused their skin to shine like daylight. No one knew what had caused it—these were, after all, the first generation of children born on this new planet. Was it something in the water? In the air? In the food that grew in the strange soil of Terra Nova? Was it the same thing which had caused every grown man on the planet to become engulfed in lunacy and darkness over the last year?

“You all deserve to die!” the deep voice said, this time, right outside the classroom door.

Ankh saw the shadow he cast, oozing like tar through the cracks around the door’s edges. She tightened her grip on her gun. “Step inside this room and I’ll kill you!”

The man laughed. “All it will take is time. Death will take them, you’ll see. All I wish to do is bring it sooner.”

“I don’t want to die, Miss Ankh,” Mirage said, peeking over the top of her desk. Her deep skin cast a warm brown light across the floor, driving back the darkness creeping through the door. Tears, lit up like diamonds in sunlight, rolled down her cheeks.

Ankh’s stomach flopped. “Hush. Hide.”

Mirage let out a sob and ducked beneath her desk again.

The door opened with a hiss as the magnetic locks released, overridden. The man loomed in the hall, a manifestation of darkness so thick not even the features of his face broke through. With a scream, Ankh opened fire. Blast after blast of the lasers hit him.

Impervious, he advanced into the room. “You defend them? These creatures as bright as the fires of Hell?”

Ankh dashed to the center of the room, placing herself between the man and the children. She fired again, this time striking him on the forehead.

Nothing.

The man charged her and slapped the laser gun out of her grip. It fell to the floor with a clatter like despair. “You think your petty light is enough to overcome the darkness?” He grabbed her wrist and twisted her around, then pulled her in and pressed his arm tight against her throat. Whispering and crying came from behind the desks.

“Darkness—darkness is nothing more,” Ankh choked out, “N—nothing more than the a—absence of light!”

“Listen. Don’t you hear your own fear? Darkness is power, darkness is everything! Darkness is death!”

Mirage stood up from behind her desk and held out her hand. Within seconds, all the other children did the same, their faces taut with rage like a child in a tantrum. Their skin flashed brighter, and brighter until it was blinding.

Ankh squeezed her eyes shut. Even her eyelids could not hold the light out—her world lit up with the red of her own blood vessels. The man holding her vanished like a vapor blown away by wind. Collapsing to the floor, she lay sobbing as her world was filled with bright green retinal impressions. She shook her head, trying to clear her vision. Within seconds, she was surrounded by children, hugging her and telling her that it was okay now; the bad man was gone. Their light had gone back to bearable levels.

“Don’t be sad,” Mirage whispered. “He was already dead.”

But all Ankh could do was keep on sobbing, wondering if he was right. Would the beautiful children die too soon? Would their radiant light fade? Was it inevitable that light would turn to darkness, and presence become absence?

After all, Terra Antiqua only died because its sun did.


“Children of the Day” copyright 2017 by A.L.S. Vossler.

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Image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

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