A short time ago in our own galaxy…The year 2020 turned to the Dark Side. Yet, there has been at least one glimmer of hope that brought me joy this year, and that is the Star Wars franchise. If I’m being honest, I’m not a huge fan of the sequel trilogy or the spinoff movies that Disney produced, but in my opinion, the final season of Clone Wars and the second season of The Mandalorian, which both streamed on Disney+ in 2020, have been the best additions to the franchise in years! Star Wars Rebels, another excellent television series in the franchise, ended back in 2018. But I was pleasantly surprised when we added a new manga adaptation of Rebels to our site. So it was with great excitement that I was able to revisit the crew of The Ghost once again since I clearly can’t get enough of Star Wars this year!
Star Wars Rebels Volume 1 features art by Akira Aoki, but the author of the book is not specified as it is a direct adaptation of the series created by Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, and Carrie Beck. More specifically, this volume is based on the two-part pilot episode, “Spark of Rebellion.” I rewatched the episode after reading the manga, and it is clear that the majority of the manga’s dialogue comes directly from the episode. For those of you who haven’t seen it, here’s a quick summary. (I apologize if you’re not as familiar with the jargon of the Star Wars universe, because I’m about to throw a lot of it at you).
Our story begins on the planet Lothal, where a young boy named Ezra Bridger lives. After seeing some imperial military officials bullying local merchants in the marketplace, Ezra interferes and steals their speeder bike and its cargo. He then encounters a mysterious man and his friends who are also interested in the unknown contents of the crates. Being pursued by some stormtroopers on speeder bikes and even a few TIE fighters, Ezra has no choice but to board the ship called The Ghost. Here, he meets the mysterious man, a Jedi named Kanan, and the rest of the crew: Hera (the Twi’lek pilot of the ship), Chopper (an astromech droid), Zeb (a strong Lasat), and Sabine (a young Mandalorian girl). He befriends and later joins the crew after helping them deliver the stolen crates of food to a poor village on Lothal and liberating some enslaved Wookiees.
Compared to the animated series, the manga was just okay. Like I said, it’s an adaptation of the first episode. You’re not missing anything story-wise if you’ve seen the episode. If you want to see it in a manga style, this volume will fulfill the desire just fine. Ezra has some of those over exaggerated expressions you often see in manga and anime, but I personally thought it was a little too much and out of place. On the bright side, Kanan looks great drawn in manga style! Akira Aoki did a brilliant job of bringing out the cool and sympathetic demeanors of the character. There is an especially awesome spread of Kanan when he first withdraws his lightsaber in battle. As for the rest of the characters, they look pretty much the same as they do in the animated series with a slight manga style. The most impressive thing about Aoki’s art, however, is the detail he puts into the ships and various machines throughout. Their appearance is almost uncanny to how they look in the rest of the franchise!
Kanan withdrawing his lightsaber (Star Wars Rebels Manga Vol 1)
One more thing I need to mention is that this volume comes with a bonus chapter called “Lord of the Sith.” To my surprise, this chapter wasn’t adapted from Rebels, but rather from the novel Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp, a book I read earlier this year. I won’t give anything away, but this was one of my favorite moments from the book, so I was very excited to see it illustrated. It makes me wish they could fully adapt the entire Lords of the Sith novel into manga or comic book form. One can only hope!
In essence, volume 1 of the Star Wars Rebels manga does exactly what it sets out to do. If you are a fan of manga and the animated television series, you will enjoy this book. If you haven’t seen any of the show, however, I’m not sure the manga alone will give you the full experience of how great the story of Rebels is. But whether you pick up this manga or not, I sincerely hope we continue to get quality storytelling from the galaxy far, far away in the years to come. May the force be with you.
Set during an era when the Galactic Empire is hunting down the last of the Jedi, a fledgling rebellion against the Empire begins to take form. Star Wars Rebels takes place in the area surrounding the planet Lothal, where the Galactic Empire battles against Ezra, a teenage con artist with latent force abilities, Kanan, one of the last surviving members of the Jedi Order, and the rest of the ragtag Rebels on board the starship Ghost.Add to CartLearn More