24th Dec2019

‘Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Charles Soule | Art by Will Sliney | Published by Marvel Comics

sw-rise-kylo-ren-1-cover

As a small indie film has just come out, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, I thought it only polite to review a connected book, throw some much needed publicity their way. I know, I know, ha ha. Jokes aside, this book has obviously been timed to coincide with the release of the film, and I suspect some of the stuff in this book ties in there. I, at time of writing, have yet to see the film, so can’t connect up those dots just yet. What this book promises to do though is give us some more insight into the process where Ben Solo became Kylo Ren. We’ve seen plenty of hints from the films, but not actually what happened, and when. I’m looking forward to seeing some of those gaps filled in, as well as finally revealing that Jar Jar Binks was secretly a Sith lord. Or a Disney executive. And no, they are not the same thing….I think.

Behind a great cover, we start with the Knights of Ren searching for, and finding two men, Karrst and Filin, both wanted for murders committed over time. Kaarst is not being chased to arrest, though, but rather to recruit. He has force abilities, or ‘touching the shadow’ as Ren calls it, something that all the Knights of Ren possess. The Knights are neither Sith nor Jedi, but warriors with Force abilities that use the Dark Side, the Ren. This particular recruitment doesn’t work out, as Filin murders his brother, thinking they’ll recruit him instead. He doesn’t have abilities, so no cigar. And no new Knight of Ren. That was then.

Cut to the now, and the Jedi Temple of Luke Skywalker is burning to the ground as Ben Solo looks on. Three Jedi apprentices land, having been off planet, and listen incredulously as Ben tells them Luke tried to kill him in his sleep. Is Luke dead? Ben tells them he is. Ben also tells them he is by far the most powerful of them, and that the place deserved to burn. The others can’t just let him walk away. They fight, though Ben does so reluctantly, and lose. Ben is clearly conflicted, as his actions show over the next few pages, torn between what his head is telling him, and what his heart is. He’s a good person being corrupted, and tricked, twisted, and used, though he doesn’t realise yet. This becomes even more apparent when Ben decides not to go to his mother, but to see Snoke. The Sith whisperer. Ben, now cut off from all the good influences, in Luke and Leia, asks Snoke about The Knights of Ren.

We all know how that’s going to go.

A really strong first issue, which achieves its aim of adding more flesh to the bone of the historic Knights of Ren, and the early years of Ben Solo, pre Kylo, and Snoke before he became Supreme Leader. I especially liked the way Soule really emphasised the internal conflicts of Ben, who is being bad, but very reluctantly. He is doing what he thinks he has to do, but with no real enthusiasm or desire. That central conflict seems to be the one thing that holds back his abilities, both then and now, but also reminds us he may be redeemable. The mythology in Star Wars is hugely important, and this book does a great job of really flashing that out. The art was excellent, clean lines, nice layouts, great choices for angles and panels. Suited the tone and style perfectly.

You can tell good writing when you find yourself willing a character to make the right choices, and cursing when he doesn’t. That was me reading this, and will probably be you too.

If you like Kylo Ren, or Star Wars in general, then don’t move along, this is definitely the book you are looking for.

**** 4/5

Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren #1 is out now from Marvel Comics.

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