by Mike Lunsford, Editor
Since the Disney purchase of LucasFilm, there has been a massive increase in Star Wars output. This is saying a lot because when under the direction of George Lucas, there was never any lack of Star Wars merchandise, DVD sets, video games, and the like. Disney however is the master strategist when it comes to having a multi-tiered strategy of television, movies, video games, toys, accessories and anything else you can think of. They are the Emperor Palpatine of marketing…except for the wrinkles, evil tendencies and force lighting.
I love Star Wars. It’s one of my favorite things ever. I’ve wanted to be a Jedi since I was 5. When Lucasfilm decided to start a series of cartoons, I went all “I’m an adult and I don’t watch cartoons.” Did you see the Star Wars: Clone Wars movie from 2003? It was horrible! I was kind of mad, in fact that this movie was the precursor to a Cartoon Network series with potentially awesome Clone Wars stories. I felt the same way about Star Wars: Rebels. Another cartoon made for kids? No thanks.
Then…I started watching clips of Star Wars: Rebels on YouTube. I saw some pretty amazing things (like Darth Vader vs Ahsoka Tano and Obi-Wan vs Darth Maul). My interest was piqued. I decided I might as well give it a shot. It looked like it might be decent.
To begin with, the art of the series is gorgeous. There are scenes that are so well designed and animated, they almost seem like video footage pulled from prior Star Wars movies. The scenery on the various planets across the Outer Rim are breathtaking. The characters look real while still carrying their own stylized form.
My prejudices against a cartoon were unfounded. This show is not made for kids. While children may watch it, the stories are not diluted in the least bit and it’s a family-friendly Y7 rating. As Matt Sernaker mentioned in his review of the first season, the show has proven itself worthy of the Star Wars franchise. In fact, it has quickly become one of my favorite go-to television series on right now.
What has impressed me thus far is the inclusion of series favorites. Lando Calrissian, Princess Leia, R2-D2, Bail Organa, Ahsoka Tano are used correctly and their characters are in line with where they would be in universe, 5 years before A New Hope. Even villains such as Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader are properly integrated without it seeming forced or pandering for views. There are even a few surprises for fans of the aforementioned “Extended Universe.” I mean…I could tell you or I could just show you.
Let me gush about Grand Admiral Thrawn for a moment. As I mentioned, I’m a huge Star Wars fan. Before the Disney buyout when the Extended Universe was still a thing and not relegated to the non-canonical stories “Legends,” I had read nearly all of the novelizations. This is where Thrawn comes from. When I read about him in the Thrawn Trilogy (Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising and The Last Command) I fell in love. He was cold, calculating, but above all else, he would not be out strategized. Thrawn was such an incredible adversary to the New Republic. He is done justice in this series. His characterization is spot on. He is exactly as I imagined him when I read those books. Even the music chosen for him is perfectly placed.
The team involved in the making of Star Wars: Rebels put plenty of surprises in the series. There are tons of references to things only true fans will appreciate. For example, we get to see the origins of the B-Wing fighters that had a prominent place in Return of the Jedi. They also handle things that could cause issues with the continuity of the original trilogy properly. For example, the fight that has been building since their first duel on Naboo, the final confrontation of Obi-Wan and Darth Maul was incredible.
The stories have depth as do the characters. In fact, the series made me a fan of characters I used to roll my eyes at, like Ahsoka. I hated the idea that Anakin had an apprentice, but with the tragedy added to her journey and the confrontation with Darth Vader in season 2 made me fall in love with her. Even the Imperials have a level of depth never explored before. For example, Agent Kallus and his change of heart as the series progressed was a something new for the typically “we’re bad guys for no reason” Imperials.
Up to this point in the review, I have only talked about supporting cast but the main cast is wonderful as well. Team leader Hera, her loyal but cranky astromech droid Chopper, bad-ass brute Zeb, Mandalorian warrior Sabine, hidden Jedi Kannan Jarrus and his padawan Ezra Bridger are all fascinating characters. Each one of their back stories are handled correctly and gives meaning to who they are. It’s hard to find fault in this show and I’m a picky Star Wars fan, as previously mentioned.
Just like I stated in my review of Rogue One, Star Wars: Rebels provides a better picture of who the Rebellion is. But just like Rogue One, you know that the cast of characters that you fall in love with won’t be long for this universe. It is a bit of a bummer, as I’ve become a fan of Phoenix Squad. All that being said, I still can’t wait for what season 4 has to offer and will enjoy the ride. It is definitely worthy of your time during this summer before season 4 begins this Fall. Catch up with it if you haven’t already on Disney XD.
ComicsOnline gives Star Wars: Rebels 5 scruffy-looking-nerf-herders out of 5.
Whether it’s reviews of awesome Star Wars cartoon series, comic books, video games, or movies, we’ve got you covered at ComicsOnline.com. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our podcast on iTunes for everything geek pop culture!