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It’s that time again!  Time to review the Star Wars that came out during the month.  We have a lot to unpack this month with the ending of two Star Wars arcs and the penultimate issues of one series.  It’s months like this one that remind me of why I like Star Wars in the first place: people are people no matter where they are.  Fiction has the ability to pinpoint the nerve of a story and bring forth the elements we need to attend to most, such as loneliness, betrayal, and hope.

Kanan – The Last Padawan #3

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Story by Greg Weisman

Art by Pepe Larraz

Poor Caleb Dume.  He had the right idea to get off planet, but stealing a ship just isn’t the way to go.  Plus, he now has Imperial troops after him.  This is an important distinction he makes in this moment of panic.  The troops he once fought for with the Republic are now a part of the Empire.  His inner dialogue reflects this important shift of perspective: everything he once knew and loved is now out to kill him.

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At times, it is difficult to remember that Padawans are still, for all points and purposes, children.  Obi-Wan appeared to be much older than the Padawans we see in other parts of Star Wars (don’t quote me on this, but he looks to be in his early 20s in The Phantom Menace), and his maturity often clouds our perception of Padawans.  The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels are doing a great job in the official canon reminding us that Padawan are students, and they are young.  Caleb Dume is 13 years old.  That is a very young age to be suddenly orphaned and alone in a galaxy trying to kill you.  Between the high-stakes fight scenes and moments of bravery, we see Caleb on the verge of breaking down, losing whatever resolve he pulled together to keep him alive.  It’s these moments of quietness and solitude (and the despair that accompanies them) make Caleb’s next move make perfect sense: he’s going to be a pirate.

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Well, a thief.  But I like to think of him as a space pirate.

He undergoes a transformation in this issue.  It is implied that he spends several months on Kaller on his own.  Kaller, the last battlefield of his Jedi life, becomes the birthplace of his new self.  No longer does he serve the Republic and the Jedi Order.  Caleb has done a 180 and serves only himself.  It is a drastic change, but one that makes sense in his need for survival.

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Much like the Star Wars Rebels show, Kanan – The Last Padawan is doing a fantastic job connecting the prequels to the original trilogy without having the rely on the Skywalker family.  Weisman and Larraz leave us with another incredible cliffhanger, and it’s definitely fraying my nerves.

Star Wars #6

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Story by Jason Aaron

Art by John Cassaday

Speaking of fraying my nerves…we are at the end of the first arc of the flagship Star Wars title.  Fans are aware of just how difficult it is to write a story like this.  You’ve got to get from point A to point B without destroying continuity and need to present something fresh that adds to the overall story.

Sounds impossible, but Aaron is definitely stepping up to the plate and delivering a bridge that matters.  There are some major events that occur in this one issue, one that makes sense and one that completely blindsides the readers.

First, let’s deal with Luke.  Boba Fett was hired to find the Rebel pilot that blew up the Death Star.  Obviously Vader needs to know who this is, especially with the repercussions he faced for the massive failure.  Boba’s encounter with Luke at Kenobi’s home brings to light Luke’s frustrations with having a call and no mentor.  Like pressing on a wound, Boba comments that Luke is no Jedi.  Sure, Luke may not be a Jedi, but he knows that is his ultimate destiny is to become a Jedi like his father.

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Oh boy.

While Boba does not capture Luke, he does bring a name to Vader: Skywalker.  This has been a huge deal for me.  It’s ambiguous just how much Vader is aware of who Luke is in the original trilogy.  The reveal kind of comes out of nowhere.  How exactly did Vader know?  Was it the Force?  Proximity to Luke?  Did the Emperor tell him?  It’s murky.  Even murkier when you understand that the Emperor works to suppress the information about the baby (he didn’t know at the time there were two).  Aaron uses this comic to clear up how Vader discovers the identity of Luke.  Vader sees his old lightsaber in the hands of Luke.  He sees the relationship between Luke and Obi-Wan.  Then, the name.  Everything comes together.  We’ll continue to explore this when we get to the Darth Vader comic this month, because it is even more heartbreaking from his perspective.

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You know what else is heartbreaking?  The fact that Han has a wife.  That was the big reveal we didn’t see coming.  Sana Solo shows up at Han’s hiding place after Han attempts to seduce Leia (again).  There are so many questions about her relationship with Han.  Are they romantically involved?  Partners in crime?  Why is she mad at Han?  Why is she so gorgeous?

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Star Wars team, I expect some answers very soon.

Princess Leia #4

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Story by Mark Waid

Art by Terry Dodson

Everything starts to come together in this penultimate issue.  Leia’s mission to gather and protect scattered Alderaanians is not going so great.  Besides being met with resistance from the Rebellion and some factions of Alderaanians themselves, she’s been tracked by the Empire.  Dodonna’s point about Leia being a walking target is well-made.  What Leia does next is very interesting in the context of the Star Wars canon.

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A little background: In The Clone Wars, Padmé was known for being a woman of the people.  She fought tirelessly to protect the rights of citizens across the galaxy who livelihood was in danger because of the Clone Wars.  In one episode, she took the time to listen to a handmaiden and discern what was happening in her life.  Padmé empathized with her plight and brought her story to the Senate in an effort to exact change.  In much the same way, Leia listens to her subjects.  While Jora immediately suspects, Leia immediately forgives.  We get a glimpse of the training her mother and father imparted on her during her youth.  Tace unknowingly betrayed her princess and feels genuine guilt over it.  Leia sees that guilt and recognizes it as loyalty.  Leia’s approach to Tace’s situation is one of kindness and brilliance.   By sacrificing her own freedom for Tace’s sister, and Imperial soldier, she is emphasizing just how important her mission to save Alderaanians is.

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Meanwhile, Leia continues her journey to reach out to Alderaanians by proxy.  Her representative is not a forgiving and flexible as Leia.  When sent to extend a hand to a Alderaanian, Jora complains of diluting the culture of Alderaan.  Her disgust is explicit and problematic.  Jora had been a leader to a faction of Alderaanians for quite some time.  Her opinion and approach still matters to some of them, even if it is racist and small-minded.  Leia has her work cut out in trying to emphasize the importance of protecting all aspects of Alderaan’s culture, even if some believe versions to be less than important.

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As we move into the final issue, we are primed to see how Leia handles high-stress moments and inspires fealty in her subjects.  We’re already seeing a change in Evaan’s opinion, and I believe Evaan’s change of heart will somehow reflect the overall view of Leia and her leadership.

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Interesting note about this panel in relation to the new canon: the early Rebellion is heavily influenced by Alderaan.  The fleet is made up of Alderaanian cruisers.  Bail Organa was outspoken against the Empire.  Tarkin would have been targeting Alderaan his entire career.  It’s destruction cannot be attributed to Leia alone.  In her pain, Leia cannot see anything but her specific part in the death of her people.

 

Darth Vader #6

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Story by Kieron Gillen

Art by Salvador Larroca

I’m going to be frank: I’m not a fan of the Cylo army thing going on.  It leaves me feeling meh about it all, especially since a lot of the enhanced beings seem gimmicky.  HOWEVER, they serve a very important purpose in Vader’s development in this series and in the main Star Wars title.  They represent contingency plans, reminders that Vader can be replaced at any moment.

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I don’t care how evil you are, that realization hurts.  Palpatine is Vader’s Master, the one person he relies on in this world.  He came into his service so dependent, so immature and rash, he never truly developed beyond that mentality.  The cold-blooded killer that is Vader is still a young man afraid to lose things in his life, including the twisted father figure who torments him.

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After the pain of realizing he is replaceable, Vader is met with with even more pain.  Boba brings a name to Vader, and his whole world starts to spin.  The name Skywalker brings up painful memories, but it carries even more weight in this context.  Let’s take a look at the flashback:

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Outlined in red, these memories are the truth that Vader holds through his transformation from the Jedi he once knew to the Sith Lord that exudes power.  If these truths are shattered, what meaning does his current life hold?  Vader realizes he must not have been the one to outright kill Padmé if Skywalker was born.  If the child was hidden from him this long, it is possible that Vader believes in this moment that Padmé could be alive and safe somewhere.

An even bigger question is whether this level of deceit was expected from Palpatine.  After the events with Cylo, is Vader’s trust in his Master gone?  Personally, this is where I see the seeds of breaking from Palpatine and ruling the Empire alone with his son starts to formulate.  Remember, Anakin turned to the Dark Side primarily to protect Padmé and their child.  With their child alive and fighting against him, how strong is the Dark Side’s hold?  How strong is Palpatine’s hold?

I guess we’ll have to wait for the next issue to learn what Vader plans on doing with this new information.

 

That’s it for this month’s wrap up!  Tune in next month for more Star Wars goodies (Dark Disciple book comes out next month!!!).

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