Kanan: The Last Padawan #1 (Marvel, 2015)
We all know the main slogan of Star Wars. No, no: not “May the Force be with you”. The other one. You know the one.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
Yeah, here’s the thing: people don’t even say it as much as they SHOULD, given what goes on around this place. Today’s comic outing — the first comic entry to take us away from the Nonstop Robe-Swooshing Dramatics of the Kenobi-Skywalker Household –is no exception: we join our favorite Rebellion-Era Jedi Dad Kanan Jarrus for a glimpse into his traumatic tween years and learn that absolutely no one truly escaped the swirling vortex of misery known as The Epic Fuck-Up of Anakin Skywalker. Once again: way to go, Anakin! Go big or go home, amirite?
Just Another Day of Taking On The Man
We begin with the Ghost crew, just hangin’ out and bein’ the Space Family. I have to say, I really like the way the artist drew them here. They look so cute and sassy. Today’s mission, they learn, is just a routine supply run (they’re shuttling supplies for refugees of Tarkintown on Lothal. Yes.) That’s when Hera drops the name of the planet they’re headed to, Kaller, which Kanan has…uh, a reaction to. SUBTLE, Jarrus. LOL.
Recurring Theme: Clone Wars Trauma
Kanan immediately gets sucked into a flashback, which he’s narrating. He’s been to that planet before, years ago, during the Clone Wars, when he was known by his original name, Caleb Dume. He went there with his Master, Depa Billaba! They kicked some Separatist butt!
OK. SO. This comic spends a little bit more time laying it on thick about how happy Caleb is that Depa Billaba — a Jedi Master! Who’s on the COUNCIL! — picked him to be her Padawan. He doesn’t even mind that he has to be a child soldier! He thought he was going to be stuck on Coruscant and miss all the “fun” everyone’s been having (…wow. So, Obi-Wan and Anakin’s mission reports must be VERY sugarcoated. “Went to Mortis. Definitely nothing weird and/or universe-ending happened there. Am not concerned that Anakin is destined for Dark Side. Probably just had shirtless nightmares again.” “Concur with Master Kenobi’s report. Ahsoka was just really tired and definitely not consumed by Ultimate Darkness until I siphoned the life force of the Light Side to save her. Am enclosing receipts for reimbursement of $256,986.21 Republic credits’ worth of fuel.”)
I was reading this and scowling and saying “…I already hate this” because let us recall that pretty much any time someone in Star Wars is like “I’m just so happy because [my beloved wife is pregnant/I’m so proud of my former student who is my BFF now/we’re about to steal the Death Star plans and I’m going to go back to Alderaan/I’m really glad I married Han Solo and had his child/Teaching my nephew how to use the Force is going to be awesome/WHATEVER]” it is ALWAYS followed by like the absolute worst thing ever in the history of time happening.
And of course we all know where this is going anyways with Kanan, but leave it to Star Wars to somehow make sure that the setup makes it feel even more painful.
Recurring Theme: Evil Guy Gives Up
This week’s Main Evil Separatist is this guy, General Kleeve, who evidently moonlights as the mascot for Underwood Deviled Ham (hey, it’s always a good idea to have a secondary skill set you can fall back on):
A battle droid informs him that they are getting their butts kicked by the clone troopers, and at that, Kleeve tells the droid, while looking through some sort of ridiculous Evil Spotting Scope:
…this is all on that Jedi they sent! He’s heard through the Separatists Craigslist or wherever the bad guys go to exchange info and gossip about the Republic that she was “unstable”. Clearly, they were wrong.
He turns to this guy, Gamut Key, and is like “WELP, I know you guys never liked having us here in the first place, so we’re out…”
Recurring Theme: Posing Is Our Speciality
Kanan sees Kleeve’s shuttle fleeing the planet and is like SWEET we did it! Depa tells him that he is correct as they stand dramatically posing amidst the carnage. Huh. I guess it wasn’t just a Kenobi-Skywalker thing, although at least Depa wasn’t stupid enough to head into a war zone wearing 17 trillions yards’ worth of fabric trailing behind her:
Recurring Theme: Protective Padawan Syndrome
They head over to where the Underwood Devil and that one guy were talking before, to discuss the Republic’s presence on the planet. Depa tells Gamut Key that those naughty Separatists won’t bother you guys anymore and sleep in your bed and steal all the good snacks. Gamut Key is like OH REALLY: and, uh, where exactly will the REPUBLIC be staying, then? HMMM?
Depa, in an aside to Caleb, tells him that the point Gamut Key is trying to make is that they don’t see much of a difference between one side’s general or the other (totally not because both sides of this insane war are secretly being controlled by the SAME GUY or anything.)
Caleb, in response, goes Full Skywalker here (WHY IS EVERY JEDI LIKE THIS? I feel almost bad for always being like GAHD ANAKIN all the time when it is becoming increasingly obvious that ALL OF THEM ARE SALTY, SASSY BACKTALKING WALKING DRAMA FACTORIES.) He does some Dramatic Finger-Pointing at Gamut Key and is like DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHO YOU ARE TALKING TO HERE? HMMM? SHE IS MY MASTER AND SHE IS THE ACTUAL BEST BEING WHO HAS EVER LIVED:
I Never Betrayed My General
The Clones, naturally, also want to get in on this action, in part because The Clones and The Jedi Are Buds and also because Star Wars just wants me to suffer that much more. They back up the little salt packet known as Caleb Dume here and are like HUH, maybe you’d like it BETTER if we all just LEAVE so that Beelzebub can move back in here!!
Billaba puts an end to this with a quickness. She tells Gamut Key that she and her troops will be just fine sleeping outside, thanks.
Recurring Theme: Oh Why Star Wars
Caleb complains that he can’t believe Depa just let that guy sass her like that! She calmly replies that she’s neglected his training, and so the two of them stand in the waning light of day posing together and going through the forms:
Sigh. She asks him how he feels, and he says that he has tons of questions. But his heart? His heart is at peace.
Caleb replies: yeah, the war is horrible and everything, but like, I still don’t hate my life? Depa supplies that his heart feels like he has found his place in the world, right? And he’s like YEAH! And I’m like WHY.
She finishes this off with a lecture straight out of the bestselling Jedi novel “When You Start To Get The Vibe That Your Apprentice Is Enjoying Fighting Things Too Much: A Memoir by Every Jedi Master Ever” by telling Caleb that while he might love his clone buddies, and love the excitement of war and being a hero…
I’m just gonna say it: the Jedi all have anger management issues. There is not a single one of them that hasn’t had to hear “don’t get TOO excited about killing things now, sweetie.”
But, I guess we’ll give Depa some credit for using the phrase “those emotions are valuable and should not be suppressed.” Good for you, Depa.
Kanan Jarrus, Annoying Question-Asker
They head back to their base camp and settle in with the clones around a campfire. Caleb carefully tells Depa that he still has one question, to which she smirks and says “Only one?” and EVERYONE LAUGHS AT HIM. Ah, dragging your apprentice! A Jedi Classic (and one that, incidentally, Caleb will later become a virtuoso of. Depa would be so proud.)
For now, though, he’s unimpressed with this:
He wants to know: why did you let that guy talk to you like that? Why didn’t you set him straight about how the Republic and the Separatists are TOTALLY NOT THE SAME?
Recurring Theme: Your Author’s Rant Time
She says, sagely: well, in part it’s because our actions will speak louder than words. And the other part? Well…
Now, you guys know I am like the worst Jedi Order Apologist ever and I have no time for the ten trillion posts on the internet that are like BUT WHYYYYY DIDN’T THEY [blah]? I have no time for it in part because I don’t entirely agree (although I would hope this blog has given you several hundred examples of times when I have pointed out their incredibly dumb choices,) but it’s also because THERE IS NO STORY IF THE JEDI AREN’T ALSO KIND OF FUCKING THINGS UP, PEOPLE. Like, OK, sure: let’s have them root out Palpatine immediately and save the day and free Anakin’s mom and all attend Anakin and Padme’s wedding and Obi-Wan and Ahsoka can move into the guest rooms, and everyone will openly discuss all their feelings and we’ll have the Ewok party 30 years ahead of schedule! I mean, that’s a fun AU, guys, but come on. There has to be conflict, and a story this long would get real boring REAL fast if the bad guys are just one-dimensionally evil in every single regard and the good guys are effortlessly and unfailingly perfect and always make clear-cut, indisputably correct choices. (To say nothing of the fact that the middle of the story came first, so, everyone in the PT era was pretty much doomed from the get-go.)
Ahem. Another reason I like that the Jedi Order isn’t perfect (BUT IS STILL WAY BETTER THAN THE FUCKING SITH OK PEOPLE) is that it allows for moments like this. This is but one of the MANY MANY MANY times in canon that one of the Jedi has openly questioned things. For Caleb, however, this seems pretty earth-shattering, in part because Kanan is a wee bit of a Kenobi-Style Rule Nerd at times. He balks:
Meanwhile, the clones are all gung-ho about the Jedi being generals, telling Depa that they’d be lost without her. Aggggghhh pain why.
Recurring Theme: Not Cool, Star Wars
Depa smirks at Caleb’s shocked question: if she recalls correctly, he was infamous at the Jedi Temple for asking too many questions. Ha! The Clones? ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS SHIT and fall all over themselves laughing, ruffling Caleb’s hair and teasing him and I am SO NOT OK WITH THIS GUYS. THEY WERE BONDING AND IT WAS CUTE.
Caleb frowns: he wasn’t asking questions because he questioned decisions, he was just curious about how those decisions got made. Depa smiles warmly and apologizes for being glib. In fact…
Awwwwwwww. And also WHY STAR WARS WHY.
Recurring Theme: This Is a Warning
She hands him something:
…oh hey! I know what THAT is! Do you? It’s a little bit worse for the wear these days ever since Ezra and DARTH MAUL WHO IS STILL NOT DEAD AS OF THIS WRITING did some sort of weirdass Force Mind-Meld with each other and it exploded, but it’s still kicking around and periodically running a few highlights from the Worst Day of Obi-Wan’s Terrible Life for funsies:
So, yes, this is the moment where Depa gives Caleb the holocron, which will later be essential to his survival. She tells him to use it to study the role of questioning — and peaceful dissent — in the Jedi Order.
The clones then get back to ribbing Caleb about having been an annoying pain and he’s like NO GUYS COME ON GEEZ and everyone laughs good-naturedly and assures him that they’re only teasing and Commander Grey smiles at them all fondly before he steps aside to take a phone call.
Good Soldiers Follow Orders
Oh, fun. It is at this exact moment where they’re all like “isn’t it great that we all love each other?” that Grey gets that universe-ending holo-Skype from Palpatine. You know the one. That same one Cody is getting! (You’re welcome.)
As painful as all this is, I guess I do like the chance to see this event happening from another perspective and with a little twist (and involving a character I already like). I am a gigantic nerd (I know, you had no idea,) and one of my very favorite things about Star Wars is seeing how all the little pieces of the plot click together. I really do think of it as one gigantic continuous story, and I genuinely love it all. Even the soul-crushingly sad parts, like this one. (One might argue that I am in part HERE for the soul-crushingly sad parts. There may be a sliver of truth to that. I’m not on trial here!)
Have gotten his capital-O Order from stupid Sidious, Grey nods in understanding. (Recall that the timing of this call means that WHILE Caleb and Depa and their guys were having all those heartwarming moments just now, Anakin was LITERALLY FUCKING THINGS UP IN THE WORST POSSIBLE WAY over on Coruscant and they were all just blissfully unaware. I hate this.)
You know what I hate even more? Whoever decided that we should end this issue with sweet, wide-eyed baby Caleb, marveling over his new cool holocron that his amazing and wise and idolized Master Billaba gave to him, as he thinks to himself…
WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME, STAR WARS. WHY. After all we’ve been through together. UGH.
So…how do we suppose things are going to go for our Jedi friends here after this? I’ll spoil it all for you guys and tell you that things ARE NOT GOING TO GO WELL. But…you’ll just have to join me next time to learn all of the heart-destroying particulars. Until then, my fellow sufferers, thanks for reading!