REVIEW: The Rise of Kylo Ren #2, written by Charles Soule
First of all, I want to get one thing out of the way. My interpretation of the previous issue was apparently quite different from that of many others.
I thought it was pretty obvious that Ben was the one who destroyed the temple, that his mind did it without him wanting it to happen, that he was so angry and so upset and felt so betrayed that his power lashed out and it was something he could not control. Other readers were saying that someone else destroyed the temple--honestly, I just don't see it. And I feel like this issue's opening synopsis is evidence toward my outlook on the situation, "Ben Solo has left the Jedi temple in flames after striking down his Master, Luke Skywalker." Now I guess this could be interpreted as he left/walked away from the temple as it burned, but it seems a lot more like he caused the temple to be in flames to me. Anyway, on to this week's issue...
This series continues to surprise and open up new avenues for speculation, questions, and theories. Now that I've seen The Rise of Skywalker four times, it's even more fascinating seeing Snoke speak to Ben knowing that he's actually Sidious (at least in a weird metaphysical way). And the Knights of Ren continue to be super spooky and weird and I am so here for it...I still wanna know why the leader looks like his torso is made out of wood...
Before we get the title page, we have several pages of conversation between Snoke and Ben on Snoke's plant-filled space station. Snoke explains the history of the place by saying, "The people who built it were trying to hold back the dark. That was the entire point. To create an oasis of light here in the Great Shadow. You see how well it worked. You see what denying the nature of things brought them." This issue makes it very clear that Snoke's space station, although full of life and beautiful plants, is also chock full of death as we get an up close look at skeletons, skulls, and bones littering every foot of the place and plants hiding even more, something that was not obvious from the last issue.
The conversation eventually turns to the Knights of Ren and Ben proclaims that he wants to find the group and maybe join them. Snoke agrees that perhaps they are the next step on his journey to becoming who he was meant to be. But he voices concern about the Knights not accepting a "Ben Solo." The boy's immediate response? "I hate that name. […] Obi-Wan Kenobi...big famous Jedi. Everyone thinks I'm supposed to be him. I never even met him. And Solo...did you know that's not even his real name? He's a lie." Ben really is a lost and alone little boy at this point, desperately reaching out for connection. And Snoke is certainly providing him with this.
As Ben and Snoke are talking, a message comes through from Brendol
Hux...Snoke dismisses it, but very interesting that Phasma and Armitage hadn't killed him yet at this point. Now I'm super curious about the timeline of the three leaders of the First Order... And is Snoke already its leader?? Or is he just an officer of sorts?? Interesting... Ben is distraught that he doesn't know who this "General Hux" is and Snoke just swipes his concern to the side, saying he has more friends than just Ben. I guess it's because Ben is so at sea with his emotions and feelings, but he accepts this and continues to listen to the older man's guidance.
Ben then mentions he has thought of a name, one from his childhood that he called himself in secret. But he worries that the name is stupid. Snoke's response? "Children's thoughts are pure. They do not practice self-deception. They are who they are." Which is an interesting thought coming from somebody who leads an organization that kidnaps and brainwashes young children...
We then bounce back to "years earlier" and see Ben, Luke, and Lor San Tekka flying off to uncover Jedi artifacts on Elphrona at the edges of the galaxy. The High Republic Era is mentioned as a potential source of said artifacts which I find very interesting since so much media has come out lately rumoring that the next series of films will take place during this era... And I find it so cool that we get to see Ben interacting with Lor!! It makes the scene at the beginning of The Force Awakens where Ben kills the man much more powerful. Another interesting aspect of these few panels is that Snoke is talking with Ben telepathically (notice the black quote bubble in the image)...and Ben is quite young if the images are any indication, so looks like Palpatine had his hooks in the boy from childhood...
We get an awesome canon connection to the second "Darth Vader" run!! Luke says, "This might be even better than Jocasta Nu's cache." A reference to the issue where in a flash forward we see someone entering the cache of Jedi knowledge that Jocasta Nu left behind!! Guess it was Luke after all.
Then, we knew it was coming, the Knights of Ren come on the scene and face off against Luke. Luke, funnily enough, talks through the entire fight, trying to distract the baddies and catch them off guard. He says, "You're clumsy. Untrained. You use the Dark Side like a hammer. But the Light Side is a blade." Some of this talk is super hokey and awkward, but it's Star Wars at its finest. In response, we get a real kicker from the Knights of Ren leader, "You said you could sense the Shadow in all of us--that's right. We've all got it. But you know your apprentice does, too, right? Powerful. Can feel it. Better be careful, Jedi man." Ooooh!!!! What a nice bit of foreshadowing!! But it appears from what we know of the story that Luke does not take this warning to heart until many years later...
So quite a wonderful second issue with lots to ponder over and consider. I still have so many questions, but I feel like this series is answering them in all the right ways. We get a lot, but not too much. I think it strikes a very nice balance and I most definitely look forward to what issue #3 will bring us!!
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I've spoken at cons and written articles on a variety of topics but one of my biggest passions is the canon literature. I hope to help you find your way through the Maelstrom because what is out there is truly amazing!