The Other Side of Rebels: Season One
Season one of Star Wars Rebels consists of four short video segments, a movie event (counted as two episodes on the Blu-Ray release), and thirteen episodes. That is what most people have experienced when discussing the first season. However, that is not the only way to experience the Ghost crew and the world of Lothal!
This guide is designed to put into place those other stories into a delightful reading order to the TV show.
For brevity, descriptions of the episodes are purposefully omitted. In the future I hope to include the Rebels Magazine comics written by Martin Fisher in this list; however, I have not read them all yet. I do hope they get released in a collected bundle release in the USA. If you are interested in checking out the younger audience magazine it can be found here! I did exclude the chapter books, but highly recommend them to young readers! The chapter books mostly just hit the big story beats, but sometimes have little nuggets of new information (ex the Stormtroopers that Sabine faces in her short video Art Attack.) In addition, this guide focuses as close to season one of Rebels, so A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller is on a different list (I strongly recommend reading it though)!
Servants of the Empire: Edge of the Galaxy by Jason Fry
Set roughly a year before Spark of Rebellion, this junior novel showcases the first year the Leonis family moves to Lothal from Hosk Station. Daughter Dhara Leonis started her first year at the Imperial Academy. Son Zare Leonis eager to join his sister at the Academy spent the year getting to know Merei Spanjaf and Beck Ollet while waiting to enlist. The rose tinted glasses began to crack over the course of the story, and set up beautifully the motivations of Zare Leonis, who shows up later in the TV show! The junior novel is available in eBook and paperback format.
Set closer to the events of Spark of Rebellion, these four short videos tease a snapshot of the cast from Rebels. Art Attack showcases Sabine Wren’s artistic sabotage. The Ghost and the Machine showcase Hera Syndulla’s piloting, Kanan Jarrus’ smart mouth, and Chopper’s cranky bleeps. Entanglement showcases Garazeb Orrelios’ determined muscle and gentle nature. Property of Ezra Bridger showcases Ezra’s agile reflexes and sticky fingers. All four of these videos are available on the official Star Wars YouTube account.
Ezra’s Gamble by Ryder Windham
This junior novel leads into the short video Property of Ezra Bridger and focuses on what Ezra Bridger was like before he met the Ghost Crew. I like the character building in this story. Who trained Ezra to be so street smart? This book answers that! In addition, bounty hunter Bossk gets tangled up in Ezra’s shenanigans as he is on the job… And did I mention the underground tournament?! The vibe of this story would translate so well into a The Clone Wars or Rebels animated story! The junior novel is available in eBook and paperback format.
The Rebellion Begins by Michael Kogge
TV Episode: Spark of Rebellion
Now we enter into the first season of Rebels! The Rebellion Begins is an adaptation of Spark of Rebellion. Personally, I suggest watching the movie event first (or any overlapping visual media), because to me my imagination transforms the written pages into something that visual media can not materialize. Ever… Anyways, the junior novel adaptation of Spark of Rebellion adds so much to the movie event that it simply can not be missed! Set fourteen and a half years after Revenge of the Sith, the extra content in this adaptation is mostly in the beginning. We learn more about the Wookiees, get a chilling introduction of Agent Kallus, which I tease in this article, get the inner thoughts of Kanan during the “22 Pickup,” and more! The junior novel is available in eBook and paperback format.
Star Wars: Kanan by Greg Weisman / Pepe Larraz
TV Episodes: Droids in Distress, Fighter Flight, Rise of the Old Masters
Available in digital or physical format this comic series was written by Greg Weisman and lasted for twelve issues. The artwork mainly consisted of Pepe Larraz, with guest penciling by Jacopo Camagni and Andrea Broocardo. David Curiel was the colorist of all twelve issues. The main story is set during a “milk run” mission (aka smuggling for the Rebellion), where they travel to the planet Kaller.
The first arc of the story kicks off into a flashback of Kanan on Kaller fifteen years prior… When he was still a Padawan on his last Jedi mission… Things went south, and the story reveals the backstory on how Kanan survived the fall of the Jedi Order. The second arc is another flashback (even farther) to Kanan’s first Jedi mission! There are characters that get introduced in that story, who show up in season two of Rebels! All in all, the comic is not to be missed! Readers of A New Dawn will also be pleasantly surprised by a cameo in one of the issues…
Rebel in the Ranks by Jason Fry
TV Episodes: Breaking Ranks & Servants of the Empire
The story ends shortly before the 15th Empire Day. If you watched Breaking Ranks first, then you know that Ezra pretends to be an Imperial Cadet to gather intel on a giant kyber crystal shipment, and works briefly, with cadet Zare Leonis, who is only in the Academy to unravel the mystery of his missing sister.
What the junior novel does is fill in the gaps of Zare Leonis joining the Academy, while also putting more focus on the amazing Merei Spanjaf, who is great at splicing! Spanjaf gets involved in some seedy people known as the Gray Syndicate, where she must balance the smuggling life, unlocking mysteries at the Academy, and keeping it all under wraps from her Imperial parents… Side note, Merei Spanjaf took these junior novel stories into a wonderful direction! If there was a way to get her into the TV show, I would do backflips. Anyways, the beauty of this junior novel is that it fleshes out Academy life, and the story goes past the closing credits of the episode! Zare Leonis gambles a lot on his life… AH! Can not say more…
Servants of the Empire: Imperial Justice by Jason Fry
TV Episodes: Out of Darkness, Empire Day, Gathering Forces, Path of the Jedi, Idiot’s Array, Vision of Hope
This is my favorite of the four junior novels. Hands. Down. Amazing! Before it would seem the Ghost Crew was untouchable. That Merei Spanjaf and Zare Leonis were invincible. Not. Any. More. Consequences play a big part in this story. Zare Leonis is getting noticed by not only the Grand Inquisitor but his fellow cadets. All eyes are on him, as he tries to excuse one lie after the next before going to Arkanis. On top of that Leonis is given missions to patrol the streets of Lothal. Meanwhile, Merei Spanjaf’s escapades are gaining the attention of the Empire. What she must do to protect everyone… The tension in this junior novel was well tightened into a crescendo of an ending! The junior novel is available in eBook and paperback format.
Servants of the Empire: Secret Academy
TV Episodes: Call to Action, Rebel Resolve, Fire Across the Galaxy
The story is told in two parts. First, it tackles Zare Leonis transferring to the Academy on Arkanis. An Academy, with a secret society that has ties to the Aftermath trilogy by Chuck Wendig, Bloodline by Claudia Gray, and The Force Awakens movie! How far Zare Leonis will go down the rabbit hole to find out what happened to his sister is explored…
Back on Lothal, we get the second part of the story as Merei Spanjaf must use her quick wits and a favor from the Ghost crew to save as many people as she can before the Empire closes the noose… The Servants of the Empire series as a whole brings out so much to the first season of Rebels. It would be a disservice to ignore these books. The characters and their motivations are so relatable. The ending is satisfying, but I want more… One can only hope. The junior novel is available in eBook and paperback format.
Bonus: “Rebel Bluff” by Michael Kogge
This short story was released exclusively on Star Wars Insider issue 158. Back issues might be available here. Set some time after Servants of the Empire: Secret Academy, but before Siege of Lothal, this short story tells the tale of why Lando was not on Lothal during season two’s movie event. Wonderful characterization of the old smoothie, as Kogge has a long admiration for the character. To find out Michael Kogge’s thoughts on the short story, check out his article about it on the Star Wars main site here!
In the End
The first season of Star Wars Rebels might have felt short, with only 13-15 episodes, but the supplemental materials gave it the right amount fulfilling content! The freeing thing about the extra content is that it did not have to just focus on the Ghost crew during the events of season one. We got a killer set of stories on Zare Leonis and Merei Spanjaf. We got a great character intro of Ezra Bridger before he met the Ghost crew, as he tormented “Mr. Bossk.” We got insights into Kanan’s past that are just gut-wrenchingly sad but help us understand him. We got a tiny amount more of Lando.
These extra stories were insanely satisfying and gave me such high hopes all the extra content in season 2… However, due to scheduling, there was no season 2 extra content (outside the Rebels Magazine comic). In a way, the second arc of the Kanan comic does tie into season 2 (which was amazing!), but that was it… There is still hope that future stories in comics or written form will be released. In October 2016, young adult novel Ahsoka by E. K. Johnston is set to release and focuses on Ahsoka Tano’s fate after the events of The Clone Wars. Plus, in April 2017, adult novel Thrawn by Timothy Zahn is set to release, and focuses on how he became a Grand Admiral leading into season 3 of Rebels!