Welcome to Forces of Geek’s The Road to Episode VII. We are approximately a month and a half away from the release of the film and everyone is waiting with baited breath to see what the end result is going be.
This time we’re looking at three recent releases to the cannon including the latest episode of Star Wars: Rebels, and reviews of the latest issues of Marvel’s Darth Vader, Kanan: The Last Padawan and Chewbacca.
Have you bought your tickets yet?
Expectations for this season of Rebels were set pretty high when executive producer Dave Filoni stated its tone would be akin to The Empire Strikes Back. Always Two There Are did a great job of creating that ominous feeling of despair for our heroes despite one little flaw that was hard to overlook.
Ezra, Sabine, Zeb, and Chopper rummage through an abandoned medical station to gather some much needed supplies for the Rebellion. They have trouble finding the supplies in the dark facility, only to encounter our second Inquisitor of the season, The Seventh Sister, voiced by Sarah Michelle Geller.
Her presence carried a sinister vibe that’s expected from a dark side user as she teased Ezra while holding him captive, alluding to Kanan’s limits as a teacher since he was never a Jedi Knight. The attack on Ezra felt like a horror movie when she treated her small creepy probe droids like pets. Gellar’s voice is slightly auto tuned and while it’s not distracting, it might prevent the actress’ more emotional scenes from being properly conveyed going forward.
The term “Grand Inquisitor” was used for the first time, referring to last season’s villain. Maybe this is a clue as to a hierarchy for these dark side wielders. The Seventh Sister and The Fifth Brother are numeric in title instead of having the “Darth” title bestowed upon them since they are not Sith lords. A sibling rivalry of sorts was revealed between the two as the Seventh Sister was unhappy with the arrival of the Fifth Brother.
Zeb’s rescue of Sabine and Ezra was void of any semblance of believability as a loud hint of “Keep your chin up” along with the Phantom hanging on the hangar bay ceiling wasn’t noticed by the Inquisitors. Yes, I know it’s a children’s show, but it’s still canon and hard to imagine two force wielders under the command of Darth Vader could miss something like that.
Meanwhile, the episode was bookended with the begrudging relationship between Captain Rex and Kanan. The burden of leadership is examined as Rex gives some sage advice, only for Kanan to be put off by any sort of guidance from a clone. Even though Kanan’s Jedi training remains unfinished, he’s taken on the role of leader and is reminded that he needs to take the good with the bad. This comes to light when the Ghost crew wonders why Kanan never told them about the other Inquisitors. Kanan couldn’t sense them and that gave him qualms about his own abilities.
This episode was designed to introduce us to the new Inquisitors. As expected, the Seventh Sister is more refined and calculated in her approach while the Fifth Brother is menacing, but could ultimately be a victim of his own bullish hubris. Ahsoka’s presence is felt even though she doesn’t make an appearance as the Inquisitors know of her existence. Is there history between the two or is this just someone who has been tasked with taking out another Jedi? Vader’s involvement will undoubtedly play a role as this season moves forward.
Kanan has been the unsung hero of Marvel’s Star Wars comic line. While it hasn’t appeared in the top ten selling comic books such Darth Vader or Shattered Empire, it’s the critical acclaim that has extended this book from a 5 issue mini-series to an ongoing series.
A lot of the credit goes to Greg Weisman who helped shape and establish the character of Kanan Jarrus when he was a writer on the first season of the Rebels animated series.
Kanan’s backstory if rife with many turbulent moments with the catalyst being the death of his master Depa Billaba. Seeing these moments in previous issues augmented Kanan’s current trust issues with clone trooper Captain Rex on the TV show.
This new story arc reveals Kanan’s first meeting with Depa. Weisman sets this up with a slight of hand flair that is hard to spot at first when Yoda sends young Caleb Dume (Kanan) to the infirmary for a simple flesh wound. Caleb’s inquisitive nature helps him stumble upon his future instructor.
Like Caleb, Depa questions everything and doesn’t believe that “Because” is an acceptable answer. As a result, the two share the reputation of being weird or damaged within the Jedi Order. Weisman did an amazing job of disclosing these traits a little bit at a time. Caleb really wants to be Depa’s Padawan, and even though we know how this plays out, the fact that he gets his wish despite being a long shot in this endeavor makes the assignment more rewarding and more cherished.
Pepe Larraz is back on art duties after a one issue break. It’s a welcome return as his style works perfectly for this book as he highlights the vibe and feeling of a more “civilized age.” The character work is solid and the action scenes just pop on the page. David Curiel’s coloring brings an energy to the illustrations and augments its overall presentation.
Kanan is an interesting book that ushers in a new direction for the series and excitement of the narrative will leave you wanting more.
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Phil Noto
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
I like Chewie. You like Chewie. Even if you think you don’t like Chewie, you’re just fooling yourselves.
To Star Wars fans, he’s the family dog. Gerry Duggan’s newest tale involving the brave Wookiee, however, just goes to show that a turd is still a turd, no matter how cool and fluffy the dog is.
The inaugural issue of Chewbacca was a story that didn’t need to be told. There were no stakes or no interesting developments of any kind.
I’m sad to report, this second installment does the same exact thing. Zarro and Chewie put their plan to free the slaves of Andelm-IV into action. Zarro is a resourceful youngster that has courage for days and Chewie was cast from the same mold which explains how their relationship come along nicely.
The only good thing about this series so far is the opening yellow crawl where it’s Chewbacca is the one writing the script, taking liberty to inform readers of his bravery and rugged good looks.
Gerry Duggan’s direction speaks to the reader in different tones that don’t make the story feel fragmented. Chewie’s flashback of being sold into slavery appeared to be in real time which was a creative vehicle to reveal his personal stake in the matter for those who weren’t aware of his backstory.
The end of the book teased Chewie’s death. Let that sink in for a second. Yeah, we know he doesn’t die, and while there are creative ways to pull this off in a prequel setting, this wasn’t one of them. The book overall doesn’t have a lot going for it, and such an ending wasn’t worth the creative currency spent in development.
If this was any other character with a story that is not set in a time before current events, this wouldn’t be a bad comic to read.
However, it’s Chewbacca, and the allure that these stories are cannon doesn’t add up. I’m holding out hope that readers will get something out of this series that is worth the $3.99 cover price, but with two issues in, I’m still wondering why this story needs to be told.
For the past several issues, Kieron Gillen has placed Darth Vader in an unfamiliar predicament.
Vader has been ordered to assist a high ranking Imperial inspector who has been tasked to discover who stole millions of Imperial credits in a space heist.
Every time the inspector came one step closer to finding out the truth that Vader was responsible for the robbery, the dark lord eliminates the problem with the wave of his hand. Now, however, the constant impediments in the investigation are becoming too coincidental.
Gillien has inserted little bread crumbs that hints to what the inspector actually knows. One minute, it appears he knows the full extent of Vader complicity and the next it looks as if he merely suspects.
It’s similar to Asoka Tano’s venture in Rebels where it’s not clear if she knows that Anakin Skywalker is Darth Vader or, does she just have an inkling that it might be him?
It’s fun seeing Vader starting to run out of tricks as Aphra is holding off the information that he truly desires: the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker. Seeing her use it as a bargaining chip gave her a reprieve that could make matters worse for her going forward which, if I’m right, is a real shame because Aphra has been one of the best new additions to the Star Wars lore.
The uncertainty of how things will unfold is where this arc finds its strength. We know Darth Vader won’t meet his end here, but who’s to say something else won’t happen to the Emperor’s apprentice.
Thanks for reading, and until next time, May The Force Be With You.