Caleb once again finds himself hunted and captured by his former allies-turned-Imperials Commander Grey and Captain Styles, with no available means of escape…
Caleb finally comes face to face with his pursuers in the fifth issue of Kanan: The Last Padawan. Following his Master’s last wish, he went on the run, taking up thieving and smuggling and giving up his life as a Jedi in order to survive. Along the way, he finds Janus Kasmir, the only person in the galaxy he could consider to be a friend and an ally. That is, until Caleb experiences yet another heartbreaking loss, forcing him to forge a new path of his own and leaving Kasmir behind as a way to protect his only friend and himself. This issue establishes the origin of Kanan Jarrus as we see him in Star Wars: A New Dawn. He went from someone who had family and friends to a lone drifter minding his own business. Someone with no friends, no family, and no future.
Writer Greg Weisman tied both pieces of works perfectly, effectively laying down the groundwork on how Caleb’s misfortunes eventually transformed him into the detached and cynical Moonglow pilot that we see prior to him meeting Hera Syndulla. One of the most profound moments in this particular issue happened right after he spoke to Commander Grey and Captain Styles about how they were all betrayed. And in that moment, Caleb put his trust in the Force for the last time. Earlier in the series, we saw him put the lightsaber and holochron away, but trusting in the Force for the last time was the ultimate act of abandoning the life he once knew and loved. It was beautifully portrayed, and even though you knew he would survive the coldness of space, the symbolism behind it made all the more beautiful and tragic.
The most emotional part of the story culminated in Commander Grey taking matters into his own hands and correcting the wrongs he and his men had committed. The interaction between Grey and Styles gave readers a closer look at how the organic chip functioned, a detail that was established in the sixth season of the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Grey described Order 66 as having his mind and memories wiped and the protocol completely taking over, but unlike Styles, he started to reason and see his actions in a negative way, leading him to make the ultimate sacrifice. Despite getting a closer look at the effects of Order 66, the scene raises more questions about the clones than what it answers. It’s not the responsibility of the comic to answer those questions, of course, but I’m glad Caleb’s story gave us a glance at the moral repercussions and the internal struggle certain clone troopers experienced when exposed to the truth.
The emotional ride continued up until the very end, with Caleb making the choice to head off on his own. It is at this point that he transitions into the Kanan we eventually come to know in A New Dawn. After seeing his old friends (Grey and Styles) die and being the one to give the order to eliminate them, he is now done with seeking another person for company and guidance because the ties that come with those sort of relationships are emotionally exhausting. Not only is he physically running away for his life, but he’s also emotionally running away and detaching himself from other living beings. That is, until a green Twi’lek captures his attention. Overall, the fifth issue wrapped up a heart-wrenching and suspenseful origin story and the final page of this arc (with all three versions of Kanan) tied up everything perfectly. Weisman, Pepe Larraz, and the rest of the creative team published a solid story from beginning to end, with emotionally charged art and memorable new characters.
Stay tuned for my thoughts and review of Kanan #6.