With the Star Wars Animated series “Rebels” reaching its season 1 finale, our friends at Marvel have decided to sate our need for more Rebels content in the intervening time until the season 2 premiere. While Kanan Jarrus may be a roguish rebel in the years leading up to the legendary battle of the Death Star, during the Clone Wars he went by a different name, Caleb Dume.
Caleb was a Jedi Padawan to Master Deppa Billaba and learned by her side on the front lines of the Clone Wars. The pair fought bravely together alongside their battalion of clone soldiers, fighting for the freedom of the Republic. This all changed on the fateful day when Lord Sidious executed Order 66, which forced all clone troopers to turn on their Jedi generals. What happened to Caleb that made him into the hardened soldier Kanan? That is what this story hopes to teach us.
In the first issue, Caleb and Master Billaba fought alongside a group of clone troopers, assaulting the droid armies on the planet Kaller. However, their battles will be against more than droids as the clones quickly turn on their Jedi friends, by order of the Emperor. Master Billaba defends Caleb, giving him just enough time to run and escape the troopers before she is eventually gunned down by the Republic forces.
Caleb is devastated at the loss of his Master, and lives on the streets and in the slums of Kaller, narrowly avoiding detection by the Republic troopers. This calls back to the season 1 finale of Rebels where the Inquisitor interrogated Kanan in regards to his Master. Kanan felt regret for being to scared and too weak to help defend his Master, and lives with the regret every day. Here, however, we see just how great a toll this can take upon a boy fresh out of the Jedi academy.
Living on the streets and nearly starving to death for days on end did little to help Caleb’s state of mind either, but he is soon saved by a good Samaritan. A rather sketchy looking alien by the name of Janus Kasmir offers a bite of food to Caleb, seeing him starving in the gutter. After begging the man for shelter, he also offers Caleb temporary lodgings in his ship, as well as a hot shower.
Caleb is more than grateful for the offer, but knows he must find a way off of Kaller before he is found by the troopers. His hand is forced however, when the troopers threaten to search Janus’ ship searching for the Padawan. At first Janus refuses to let them aboard, saying he has no love for the Jedi, and would never harbor one. His tune quickly changes however, as Caleb hijacks the ship and uses it to escape orbit.
Caleb decides to make a rush to the Jedi temple on Coruscant, hoping to regroup with any surviving Jedi. En route to the temple however, his communicator receives a general transmission from Obi-Wan Kenobi, warning all surviving Jedi to stay away from Coruscant. “Both our Jedi order and the Republic have fallen.”
This is the message conveyed by Obi-Wan at the end of Star Wars Episode III, which he uses to warn the Jedi to hide away and protect themselves. We see this same message play during the Rebels cartoon series; however, seeing Caleb react to this message for the first time is an interesting experience. This child’s entire way of life has fallen, his Master died before his eyes, and even the entirety of the only system of government he ever knew was now in shambles. This was a lot to take in.
Sadly he has no time to react to this news as he suddenly drops from hyper space, arriving at Coruscant. The one place Obi-Wan told him not to be. What’s worse, a fleet of Republic Arc-170 starfighters are waiting for him and are prepared to blow him out of the sky.
This book is certainly NOT a kids book. While Star Wars Rebels, and even the Clone Wars may have been directed at a younger audience, they never shied away from tougher subjects like death, or harder subjects like interpersonal relationships like betrayal. but this book just pours on every ounce of tragedy one can imagine. While it was no secret Kanan’s past was a tragic one, seeing it all unfold in this way is just eye-opening, and slightly jarring. The Marvel Star Wars books just continue to please, and are absolute joys to read, even if their subject matter is VERY heavy.
-Great artwork, that while different from the “Rebels” TV show art style, still screams Star Wars
-Amazing characterization, and work to flesh out the enigmatic teacher of “Rebels”
-Heavy subject matter which does not talk down to the reader
-story is slow moving, while character building takes presidence this issue, little actually happens plot wise