Story: Charles Soule
Art: Will Sliney
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
What They Say:
BEN SOLO, KNIGHT OF REN? Soon, BEN SOLO’S path will end in a place of fire and blood, and a shadow will rise to take his place. He is with the KNIGHTS OF REN now, and they will welcome him, if he can pay their price. But before that destiny is fulfilled, a battle must be fought at an ancient JEDI Outpost on the planet ELPHRODA – between Ben and those who know what he could have been… and fear what he might become. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Everyone here is afraid – Ben Solo most of all!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
It’s unfortunate, once again, that the interesting stuff that should have populated the film series at different times is relegated to the comics. Charles Soule is filling us in on the material that fans craved from The Force Awakens in understanding Ben’s journey from apprentice to being a part of the First Order and we get a decent look at that here. Thankfully, Soule is up to the task in the limited space he has and Will Sliney is putting in a solid job in giving us a look at this world, albeit light on some of the visual details so as to not take away from whatever other properties may expand on later at some point with.
The framing for this issue has Ben having caught up with Ren and the knights on some mid-rim world called Carnak where they’re getting ready to make their move to the next destination to cause problems. Ben’s arrival has him wanting to join up with them to learn more about his path forward and Snoke, who has worked with Ren previously, has vouched for the boy already. But Ren’s a cautious one in who he brings on board and Ben doesn’t exactly look like he rolls with their crowd in just about every way. What he wants is to know what Ben is capable of and he’s all too quick to awkward ay that he’s killed a Jedi, leaning into the belief that he killed Luke. But a little nudging gets him to talk about the events on a different world just before coming here, where he had tracked Ren in his quest to find them.
This allows the focus in a flashback to show how the other apprentices tried to deal with Ben after the destruction of their training facilities. But what Ren wants from the tale is how Ben knows these people, that there’s connection and meaning in their deaths for him, that he was able to do something dark. That does mean we see when they were younger just after the academy started and the kinds of jealousies and differences there were between these core four. It’s simple and familiar but it works well to establish personalities that they grew into as late teenagers in this present, resulting in the fight as they try to stop him and bring Ben back to Luke. There are no real surprises here, though the way Hennix gets killed should be a good bit more bloody than is shown, but it reinforces the bad blood that exists, some furthering of Luke’s withdrawal into himself, and that Ben is going to have to truly do the deed to make the break from his former path to his new one.
Though the series is about Kylo Ren and that really is the main focus on it, the reality is that we’re getting our first real look at the Knights of Ren as well and it’s filling in a lot of blanks. You can see a number of other paths the films could have gone on with all of this that might have worked even better and you can see background material that really was esesntial to be at least talked about if not shown in the film. Soule delivers it solidly here with a good forward progression even though it feels like this could be a twelve-issue maxiseries to explore more of it and really dig into his time with Ren. Sliney’s an artist I continue to really like though I don’t think he lands on the right projects for his style. I’m still somewhat ambivalent about him on this but he does capture Ben in a certain way that feels right and I like his take on the knights and definitely the settings and technology. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how this all wraps up and hope that it’s open to more in the future.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Marvel Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: February 12th, 2020