Drew: 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.
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!”
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.
Kanan: The Last Padawan 7
Patrick: 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.
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.
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.
Evidently, there were some non-Star Wars comics released this week. Click here to check out the other comics we wrote about this week!