REVIEW: The Rise of Kylo Ren #1, written by Charles Soule
This first issue of this new short-run series left me pleasantly surprised. I didn't want to go in with too high expectations because of recent experiences with the "Allegiance" short-run series and the last couple of issues of the "Target Vader" short-run series.
There's been some great short-run comic series released this year such as "Galaxy's Edge" and "Jedi Fallen Order: Dark Temple," but I've been let down too. So it's hit or miss at this point. And this was a hit!...and not at all in ways that I expected.
We start off in the past with the Knights of Ren trying to recruit a new member who was known as a mass murderer. According to their leader, "We have a friend. He told us about you, Karrst. Said you could touch the shadow. Do things...like this." "This" being lifting an object with one's mind. I thought it interesting that these guys refer to the dark side of the Force as "the shadow." They seem very mystical and super disturbed. As the leader goes on to explain, they follow "The Ren" a.k.a. the
lightsaber. "The Ren doesn't stop to worry about what it's burning or the right or wrong of it, or the goals it might achieve. The Ren just is. It lives, and it consumes, and it doesn't apologize. It is its nature and nothing else. I believe in that principle on a deep, deep level." These guys are all about destruction, chaos, and darkness. I'm definitely excited to find out how poor, confused Ben (you'll see what I mean in a second) becomes their new leader... I also wanted to mention the bizarre skin texture of the leader--it looks like most of his torso and
arms are made out of wood or covered in burn scars, it's very strange and I don't have an answer as to what it all means except to say he did let the lightsaber burn his hand, perhaps he is covered in burn scars??
Then we jump to the "present" with Luke's Jedi temple in flames. Tai (human male), Voe (human female), and Hennix (Quarren) were all three off-world when Luke nearly killed Kylo in his sleep. They fly into the destruction, not having a clue what has happened. But one thing they know for sure is that they cannot feel anyone in the Force in the surrounding area. As Voe says, "Normally the whole Force sings
with Master Skywalker's presence." Once they land, they come across Ben in the midst of everything, claiming that he burned down the temple and killed Luke. It's actually kinda funny seeing him be petulant and self-aggrandizing, saying that he was the "prize student" and that he's more powerful than the three Jedi put together because it reminds me SO much of his grandfather! Whining and angry that things aren't going to his exact specifications.
Eventually, Ben escapes the planet in his ship, the Grimtaash, with the three Jedi in hot pursuit in the Verity. Both ships are of new design with the Verity
looking to be a highly modified X-wing with some sort of super engine. During the pursuit, Ben turns around to attack the other ship and Tai humorously proclaims in response to Voe, "Evasive action? Ben's father is one of the galaxy's greatest pilots, and his uncle blew up a Death Star. We can't evade him!"
I would consider the following to be spoilery so if you don't want the surprises in this issue to be given away, then you might want to end here. With that said, I highly recommend this series, at least so far, as it gives us new perspectives and new insights into a character that most of us find highly intriguing.
Then we get to the real nitty-gritty goodness of this story so far. Turns out, Ben didn't mean to burn the temple down!!! He was merely intensely angry, his eyes flaring, and his mind working in overdrive and
he thought the fires into existence. He even says after the flames start burning that this wasn't what he wanted. Now this gets into that whole anti-hero discussion of humanizing the villain, taking someone who has done absolutely horrible things and giving them reasons and a history for why they do those things, rather than them just being evil. I for one don't mind it at all. I humanize Vader to the nth degree because I so passionately care for the character of Anakin. In the same vein, all those fans of Kylo Ren out there, excuse me, Ben Solo, now have fodder for saying that things aren't his fault and he's not truly evil and that Bendemption is inevitable. I don't know which side of the fence I sit on in regards to this issue, but I will say that this story opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about this villain character.
And then we have Snoke, the one person who Ben felt he could turn to after his accidental destruction of the temple. Snoke lives on a bizarre looking space station filled with all manner of different plant species. And he wears some super weird, not Snoke-like robes. I just can't imagine him wanting to surround himself with so much color and life when we see him in a giant, cold, dark empty room in the movies. I wonder if he was just trying to trick Ben into thinking he was a different sort of person than he actually was, that he cared about things when he actually did not. We also learn that his injuries were from Luke himself, according to Ben, which means that Luke and Snoke must have
known each other relatively well before all the bad stuff went down.
The minute Ben walks in and sees Snoke, he rushes into an embrace with the man and looks like a small, whimpering child, needing comfort from a parent. It's totally weird to see Snoke so fatherly and caring when in the movies and the "Age of Resistance" comic maxi-series he is callous, rough, and flippant toward the boy. I'm hoping this series will provide us with a little more insight into how that relationship morphed and changed into what we are familiar with.
A great start to a story we've all been wanting for some time now! Can't wait to see where it goes from here...
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