Star Wars Round-Up: Issues Released 10/28/15

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Today, Drew, Patrick, and Spencer discuss Chewbacca 2 and Kanan: The Last Padawan 7.
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Chewbacca 2

Chewbacca 2Drew: At the risk of hyperbole, I’m going to posit that Chewbacca is the only element of Star Wars that makes it through the prequels unscathed. It’s hard for our favorite moments from the original trilogy to not be tainted by the midichlorians and over-wrought melodrama of the prequels, but Chewbacca manages to hold on to his mystique in spite of explicitly appearing in Revenge of the Sith. I suspect a big part of that has to do with the fact that we don’t understand his speech — something Gerry Duggan also manages to use to maximum effect in Chewbacca 2.

Zarro’s got a plan, and the one-way communication between her and Chewie basically forces Chewie’s hand. The plan doesn’t quite pan out like they’d hoped (hey, this is a Star Wars story, after all), but for me, the crux of this issue doesn’t have to do with the plan at all — for me, it’s all about Chewie’s cryptic flashback.

Chewie Memories

Duggan and artist Phil Noto don’t give us anything too concrete here — just enough to suggest some kind of wookie slave trade (or is it an exotic pet trade?). We don’t need any more than this, though, to understand what helping Zarro would mean to Chewie. That little bit of context turns Chewie’s matter-of-course heroism into a character moment. Plus, it might explain why Chewie was so uncomfortable getting shackled in A New Hope.

Actually, those callbacks continue to be some of the most fun of this series. There’s no letting the wookie win this time around, but we are turned on to the similar saying: “never let a wookie live.” Are you having as much fun with those as I am, Patrick?

Patrick: Oh, I definitely am. I love the idea that wookies are a known entity throughout the universe, that are somehow known to be sore losers and bad omens, but are also impossibly lovable. It makes Chewbacca an interesting mix of hero-types: he’s the strong, silent type, he’s the psychopathic bodyguard, but he’s also got a little bit of a Shaggy and Scooby thing going on. If Duggan would allow us a peek into Chewie’s inner monologue here, I can only imagine it’d be something along the lines of “Zoinks!”

Chewie hates it

He knows he’s supposed to go down that hole, but he just hates it so much! Just look at him hilariously growling at himself. If there’s a more charming characterization of Chewbacca, I can’t think of it.

Drew, one thing I really enjoyed about this issue is that it seems like Noto has an eye toward showing off the tech that Zarro and Chewie are using. It’s always a bit of an incongruity that this walking dog-man is also capable of repairing a warp drive, but it’s just a quirk of his character: Chewbacca does machines, as it were. Gadgets are weapons are important to Chewie, so Noto makes space for them on the page. We get several inserts of the screen mapping Zarro’s position underground, but very little in the way of text explaining what that tech is actually doing. That’s how Chewie must experience these things – not by reading the manual, but my experiencing what they do. In fact, the issue starts with Chewie peering through a pair of those hi-tech Star Wars binoculars, and we get to see that panel from Chewie’s perspective.

Oh, and I couldn’t get enough of Chewie repurposing that gonk droid as a sort of robot cattle-prod. Again, no explanation of how that’s happening, just results. Maybe that should be Chewbacca’s motto (and by extension, Duggan and Noto’s): no explanations, just results.

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Kanan: The Last Padawan 7

KananPatrick: It’s time to dig back in to Kanan’s past with another flashback story to a time before the era the series supposedly takes place in. As far as narrative conceits go, Greg Weisman and Pepe Larraz’ Kanan: The Last Padawan‘s is more of a hindrance than anything else. The previous arc, which was essentially a 5-issue uninterrupted flashback, didn’t do much to inform the actions of present-day Kanan. And now that we’ve jumped right back into the past after a one-issue foray into “the present,” all of the Kanan stuff is starting to feel like filler before getting to the Caleb stuff. I generally hate accusations of “filler” because, like, it’s all story, right? But that seems appropriate here. It’s only a page in this issue, but it feels like a totally wasted page. Kanan’s crewmates speculate on how someone could get the drop on their Jedi compatriot; the attendant flashback does not appear to set out to answer that question.

But if we can just chill out a second, and accept the fact that the framing device is necessary to tell connected, if not chronologically presented, stories from the life of a young Jedi during the Clone Wars, then we start to see some intriguing tales unfold. I’ll admit to not loving this period in a Jedi’s training, from a storytelling perspective. Or, maybe from a Star Wars fanboy perspective. As far as I’m concerned, Jedi Masters teach their students by speaking to them in riddles and challenging their perceptions of the universe. We’ve seen Obiwan and Yoda do just that with Luke — remember, Yoda doesn’t even ask Luke to use his lightsaber while they’re on Dagobah. But if Jedi-in-training can be reduced to athletes, I suppose Jedi Masters can be reduced to coaches. It just seems so undignified for Yoda to be calling out positions.

Actually, all of the Jedi seem… clinical. When Caleb’s future-master comes out of a six-month coma, Yoda, Mace Windu and Obiwan suggest waiting to see the results of some psychiatric evaluation. Huh? Can’t they like, reach out into her soul? If she’s really emotionally damaged goods, isn’t that the kind of shit they’re trained to identify with the force?

But the heart of the issue is Caleb’s unrest within the Jedi order, and that’s mirrored pretty well by his relationship with General Billaba. He challenges conventional wisdom and isn’t afraid to throw his support behind someone that everyone else perceives to be broken. That makes his rebellious nature sweet. That may be the key to understanding this character.

Spencer: Absolutely, and sweet is the name of the game for this issue. Greg Weisman and Pepe Larraz portray Caleb as an actual child — sweet, curious, mischievous — and it’s thoroughly charming, as is the bond forming between him and Billaba.

kidSeriously, I could probably read a whole arc of these two just hanging out, and I imagine their conversations would be much closer to the kind of Jedi training you prefer, Patrick.

Actually, I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but I can’t help to think that the shift in the Jedi’s training and operational methods might have something to do with the time period.

Action

We’re waist-deep in the Clone War, which has the Jedi acting as soldiers and Padawans thirsting for battle without anyone even attempting to show them the folly of violence. The Jedi acting as an army in a war has always struck me as a strange position for the them to take in the first place; could the sudden focus of Padawan training on battle technique as opposed to philosophy and spirituality be a side effect of the Jedi Order itself losing its way? I wouldn’t be surprised.

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Evidently, there were some non-Star Wars comics released this week. Click here to check out the other comics we wrote about this week!

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14 comments on “Star Wars Round-Up: Issues Released 10/28/15

  1. Would Chewbacca have worked exactly as well if you’d put Groot in his place?

    (Not a criticism, but I feel like I’ve read a LOT of comics lately with the main character BLARGing, GROOTing, or WRONNNNKing)

    • Possibly? I maintain that Chewie has more personality than Groot. Like, that sequence I posted of Chewie deciding he didn’t want to go down that hole makes him a much more rounded character. Groot doesn’t really feel irrational fear in the same way Chewbacca does. Also, I think Chewie’s just a little more selfish than Groot is — Goot wouldn’t think twice before putting himself in danger to save a slave girl, but Chewie needs to be badgered into helping, and then does so under duress.

      • At the same time, not going down that hole feels like borrowed characterization from the garbage chute scene. I realize it’s hard not to recreate details exactly when a character is mostly characterized by specific actions. Of memorable scenes with Chewie, I remember that he’s a sore loser, an excellent mechanic, is fiercely loyal, thinks with his stomach, and doesn’t like going down garbage chutes. Duggan has done well to create new things for Chewie to do (something the main Star Wars series could learn from), but it’s hard not to see some of these more explicit nods to those moments as references for reference’s sake.

        • But again, there’s something kind of new and charming about Chewie growling to himself. Like, he was communicating to Han that he didn’t want to go in the garbage chute, but this is the wookie equivalent of yelling at yourself. THAT’S SO CUTE.

      • I think if you look at James Gunn’s Groot, there is a lot of personality in the innocence and sweetness. I don’t think the fact that Groot doesn’t need to badgered into helping makes him a worse character. Because that is one of Groot’s essential qualities.

        Groot’s real problem is that he is in a team book, where the writers generally aren’t putting as much focus on Groot as James Gunn did in the movie. They have a habit of having him just say ‘I am Groot’ every so often, instead of thinking really carefully about every line and every movement (Vin Diesel had a small essay next to every line explaining what Groot was saying, how he was saying it and stuff).

        Chewbecca is belligerent. He will complain, whether it is because Han is yelling at him for making a mistake or he doesn’t want to go down the garbage shoot. And yet, despite not liking it, he does it. That’s why he doesn’t want to go down the hole. But the sort of character beat you give Groot is very different to the type you give Chewbecca, despite their similar status as non speaking side kick

        And on another note, I’ve never found it an incongruity that Chewie is good at technology. He’s the copilot of a hunk of junk. You learn. However he was raised, it isn’t hard to believe after some time in space, he’ll pick up tricks like that

  2. I still think if you put Groot in this comic instead of Chewie, you get essentially the same story. The difference would be I AM GROOT in various fonts and font sizes instead of growling.

    Their characters are different, and we relate to them differently. To some of us, we’ve had an almost 40 year relationship with Chewbacca instead of 4 years with Groot. Chewbacca was a guy in a fluffy suit, we’ve always known that Groot was nothing but bits and bytes on a computer. I’ve even read many more comics with Chewie than Groot. Chewbacca is a much more iconic character than Chewbacca.

    So of course they’re different. But I do think that most of this story is very, very similar if Groot is in it instead of Chewbacca. That’s not necessarily terrible: Many would/could/might say Groot is to Chewbacca as Rocket is to Han.

    • Is “Guardians Team-Up” still a thing? Can we get a Chewbacca/Groot team-up story stat? That’s something I want to see

    • Fun fact. Groot is older than Spiderman, even if it took till 2008 for anyone to actually care

      My point was more aimed at Patrick. But the hard thing about Groot and Chewbacca is that characterization is even more important, due to losing dialogue. Every movement, every roar/’I am Groot’ becomes essential and should carefully be planned. So itnis certainly fair to say that a story has done this badly enough to make the characters indistinguishable.

      And actually, that makes Spencer’s idea brilliant. Optimistic, heroic Groot dragging belligerent Chewbacca on a heroic quest, with Chewbacca complaining all the way. Standard opposites working together, except done entirely with roars and ‘I am Groot’s

      • I have an internal debate with myself about whether or not it’s worth it. I don’t watch Rebels, though I’m sure I will when it goes up on Netflix or something. I’m currently reading all the Star Wars comics and it makes me so happy to have such an artistically ambitious, and largely consistent, universe to play in. So I’d hate to drop a piece of it just because it doesn’t speak to the characters I grew up with.

        • I have to say, I’m interested in nearly everything Star Wars at the moment, because Disney really seem to know what they are doing (and considering they hired JJ Abrams, the fact they managed to prove that is a truly impressive achievement). There is a real plan, where everything has a place. So I’m really interested in following what I can. Especially considering the artistic ambition and everything.

          But yeah, as someone who hasn’t seen Rebels yet, I can understand that Kanan doesn’t click with you to the same degree as, say, Darth Vader the most iconic bad guy of all time. I would recommend Rebels, as I think it is one of the best animated shows at the moment (only other one I can think of is Rick and Morty). It has the spirit that makes Star Wars great, without just repeating it. Not without flaws, but th sort of thing Star Wars should be like. But this comic exists to service the show, and how good it is doesn’t change the fact that it is about building a character that, unlike the characters from the other comics, you haven’t watched the source material. Makes things harder. So will understand if you drop it, even if I’m interested in reading your thoughts when I get round to Kanan

          Also, great being here, and glad people enjoy my comments.

      • Also, just as an aside – great to have you around, Matt! Love having your voice in the comments here – even when we’re not getting around to responding to every comment, know that at least me, Spencer and Drew are reading everything that gets posted on here (usually the article’s lead writer will be happy to get in on the action too).

        • I read most things, except for when they start getting a little lose in their editorial discretion on what to write about. (I’m looking at you, Trees)

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