NYCC: Weisman Explores the Past in Marvel's "Star Wars: Kanan"

The upcoming "Star Wars: Kanan" ongoing series from Marvel Comics was announced yesterday at New York Comic Con, and it will kick off with a five-part arc titled "Kanan: The Last Padawan" that focuses on the time period surrounding Order 66. It will bridge "The Clone Wars" and "Star Wars Rebels." Written by "Star Wars Rebels" and former "Young Justice" producer Greg Weisman, pencilled by Pepe Larraz and edited by Jordan D. White, the story explains Kanan Jarrus' past as Caleb Dume.

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The "Star Wars Rebels" animated series recently premiered on Disney XD and has already been renewed for a second season, and Kanan has established himself as more or less the co-leader of the ragtag group that's fighting back against the oppressive Empire. Described as the "cowboy Jedi," Kanan is a survivor. He was once a Padawan under the tutelage of Jedi Master Depa Billaba, but everything changed when the clone troopers turned against the Jedi. After escaping Order 66 and the purge that followed, Kanan went off the grid. But how did he survive the life-changing event when so many other Jedi were lost? CBR News spoke with Weisman about the the answer, when the story takes place in "Star Wars" canon and how events shape the man viewers are getting to know in "Star Wars Rebels."

CBR News: Before we get started, news dropped this week that you won't be working on season two of "Star Wars Rebels." Can you make a statement about that?

Greg Weisman: I love the show, and I'm very proud of the work we did. It's in very capable hands with Dave [Filoni], Simon [Kinberg], and Henry [Gilroy].

When does "Kanan: The Last Padawan" take place, and where is Kanan when issue #1 begins?
It begins just before Order 66 comes and deals with the aftermath of that. So, it's right at the end of the Clone Wars, obviously.

The book "A New Dawn" was recently released, and while it takes place later in the time line, it happened before "Star Wars Rebels." Did you talk with "A New Dawn" author John Jackson Miller to discuss Kanan's development and personality?
Yeah. They're all steps in the overall thing. When Dave, Simon, the story group, and the writers and I were writing season one of "Rebels" many months ago, we basically mapped out backstories of our six leads. All of the steps, including "A New Dawn" and "Last Padawan" were sort of laid out back then. It's incredibly exciting to be able to actually tell this story, because it's a huge story in Kanan's life -- it's a significant event in his development. It's not just, 'Oh yeah, we're going to tell another story. Here's another adventure.' It's not just another adventure. It's a huge event in his life.

"Star Wars" is often an ensemble piece. It's often about these huge, historic events in the galaxy. This time we're taking one of these major events, but we're seeing it through the view of one single individual. So to me, there's a unique feel to it that I'm very excited about.

In the "Star Wars" universe, even in Legends (formerly the Expanded Universe), stories have been told in this time period but not from this specific point of view. Is there any pressure involved in writing about Order 66?
There's always pressure with "Star Wars." Always. The fans -- I don't know if you've noticed, but they can be very intense about "Star Wars." [Laughs]

Yeah, I've heard that.

They're very particular. Particularly on that internet thing I've heard so much about. There's no doubt, honestly, that there are folks out there who -- I don't know if they really feel this way, but certainly the way they post on message boards and stuff like that, it's almost like they actually want us to fail. And that's been true on "Rebels," and obviously with "Kanan" just being announced that hasn't happened yet. With "Rebels," we're never going to please everyone, but I don't think "Rebels" is going to disappoint. I don't think "Kanan" will either.

The first issue of the comic doesn't see print until April. How far along in the process are you at this point?
We know the basic story. I broke down all five issues on a macro level, for the lack of a better term, but I haven't started even the first script yet. The timing for the announcement is great because "Rebels" is premiering today, and [New York] Comic Con is coming up in a week. But the fact is we've barely gotten started. But it's, again, very exciting.

Have you worked with artist Pepe Larraz before?
I have not. Jordan D. White grabbed him up, which is very good news, but no, I've never worked with him before. And to be honest I haven't worked with him yet either. I look forward to it, but I have to write that first script. [Laughs]

Since you have a basic outline, can you tell me if the story will have any flashbacks to Caleb's life in the Jedi Temple?
We definitely see him when he was a Padawan but not in the temple. The temple is referenced definitely; it's important. We're going to start with Caleb and his Jedi Master Depa Billaba in the field, fighting alongside each other in the Clone Wars years, fighting against the Separatists. That's where our story opens. I don't want to give away too much, but it literally opens the day before Order 66 comes.

Do you have any idea about how much time will have passed by the end of issue #5?
I don't have an exact amount yet, having not actually written it, but we're looking at more or less a year in the life, give or take. We're looking at the first year of Caleb's life because this is before he took the name Kanan. We're looking at the first year of Caleb's life after Order 66, the day before, and about give or take a year after. This is not designed to be, just to be clear, sum total. It's not like this will completely fill in the gap of Order 66 and "A New Dawn." This is a hugely significant event in his life, obviously, very seminal for him, but it's not designed to be encyclopedic. It's not designed to take you all the way from point A to point B.

As you mentioned, Order 66 was a huge event. I can't imagine that Caleb/Kanan was entirely the same after. Was it challenging to go back in time from the personality you know so well from "Rebels?"
That kind of thing is exciting for me. We definitely extrapolate backwards. We have a very clear sense of where Kanan ends up as of the start of "Rebels" and even know what kind of guy Kanan is into the second season. One of the first things we did when I came aboard is start working backward. We talked about who Kanan was in great detail. That work informed "A New Dawn" and it informed this, and that's true of all of our leads, not just Kanan.

"Star Wars: Kanan: The Last Padawan" debuts in April 2015.

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