Star Wars Rebels – Graphic Novel Review

Every fan of Star Wars Rebels will agree on one thing: that we didn’t get enough of the show. Whilst the series ran for four seasons, and was pretty much beloved, there was always a longing for more. There have been some children’s books that have expanded upon the characters and the stories started in the show, including a four book spin-off that focused on the character of Zare Leonis. But one area that feels lacking for more Rebels content is comics. The characters have made tiny appearances in other books as background characters, and there are a few volumes of a manga adaptation, but they never really had a book of their own. Dark Horse Comics seem to have spotted that niche, and have given fans a huge, 500 page bumper graphic novel.

Collected together from dozens of issues of Star Wars Rebels Magazine, this new graphic novel is basically an anthology set, giving readers close to forty Rebels stories that they might have missed. The magazine experienced something of a spotty publication run, and depending on what country you were living in you would get it for varying lengths of time. For example, the UK received 22 issues, whilst the US only had 8, and Germany had 39. Thankfully, the comics within the magazine have now all been collected together in one place, finally giving folks a chance to check them out.

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The stories here span across the entire run of the magazines, which were coming out at roughly the same time as the show. As such, there’s definitely a progression across the book as the stories go on. Sabine changes her hairstyle and armour colours, Ezra goes from one lightsaber to another, they begin with the first Fantom and switch to the second, and they reference key events from the episodes. It’s a nice thing to see, and it shows that these comics aren’t just happening in a vacuum, but work with the series too.

That being said, there is a continuity to these stories that’s all their own. We meet characters in one story and see them return several later, and locations and themes get repeated. This prevents them from feeling like they’re simple isolated stories, which can sometimes hinder a collection like this. It’s these small connections to each other, and the larger Rebels canon, that really makes these tales shine, and led to me loving reading them.

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The stories try to flesh out the characters in ways that we’ve not really seen before, or that expand upon what we know from them in the show. We know that Sabine has a history with bounty hunting and criminal cartels, and here we get a couple of stories about her trying to make right for some of the things she did back then, and some of the people that she harmed. We know that Ezra began unsure of himself, both in regards to him becoming a Jedi and to stepping up within the rebellion. As such we get to follow him as he tries to find different ways to put his Jedi training to use, and we see him not only learning to believe in himself as a soldier, but becoming a figure that can help teach and inspire other young members of the rebellion.

Star Wars Rebels is also good for fans of side characters, as we get some focus on them too. There are stories where the team go on adventures with Vizago, Ahsoka comes along for an underwater rescue, Rex gets several spotlight stories that delve into his head, and there is a lot of Commander Jun Sato. Personally, I loved the stories that focused on Sato, as he was a great character in the series whose death really hit hard. Here we get to see more of him as an inspiring leader, and a kind, caring man. We even get to see the impact of his legacy in a story set after his death that’s quite affecting. Perhaps the most surprising, however, is the story that brings back 264, the Imperial R4 unit that helped our heroes in season one of the show. This little droid gets perhaps the most surprising and touching story in the entire collection.

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The stories are penned by three writers, with the majority of them being written by Martin Fisher, whose work fills up the first half of the book. Several of the later stories are written by Jeremy Barlow, with Alex Worley finishing off. For the most part you can’t really tell that there are multiple writers working on this book, as the stories all have very similar styles and tones, and fit in well together. The biggest difference between stories comes in the form of the art. There are a few artists that seem to alternate stories for the early stages of the book, and their styles are pretty similar, but towards the end some of the comics have some very different and unique looks to them; some of which really don’t seem to fit with the others. These changing styles are a lot of fun, and show that Star Wars, and Star Wars Rebels, works in any look.

As a long time fan of Star Wars Rebels I loved this collection, it was great getting to spend time with the Ghost crew, to see them taking on new challenges and working together, and almost all of the stories here felt like they could have been episodes in themselves. For those who are missing these characters and want more of them, this is an absolute must buy.

Star Wars Rebels is out now from Dark Horse.


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