SPOILER REVIEW: The Rise of Kylo Ren #4 written by Charles Soule
Wow!! And huh... There's a lot to mull over in this final issue of the series. Warning, as this is issue 4 of 4, I'll be spoiling it a good bit. Which leads me to my first comment--we all knew Ben was going to kill the leader of the Knights of Ren, but what we didn't know was how difficult it would be for him to kill in the first place. He struggles and agonizes over the idea of killing ANYONE until Ren proclaims a few too many times how Snoke must've been wrong about Ben and how he wasn't the knight they were looking for. Well, let's just say, Ben is sick and tired of being seen as a special, golden child and hearing from Ren that he once again didn't live up to those high expectations, sets him off in a BIG way. Ben finally gets the bravado to physically attack Ren himself and take him down. But after that death?? Well, he's certainly not struggling with the horrors of being a killer anymore...I'll leave it at that. It's amazing how that one death set off a switch in him that completely 180ed his entire personality!! I'm not sure how that works, but I guess it's quite similar to Anakin cutting off Mace Windu's hand and his switch being turned on to where he became a killer of all. In fact, there's another parallel between Ben and Anakin's respective falls that I detail below.
Let's back up for a second. The story takes place in the Mid Rim on the minemoon of Mimban. I'm not sure if this is Mimban itself or just one of its moons. Regardless, the people of the "planet" are obviously Mimbanese. Ren and his knights, as well as Ben, are interrogating a group of said Mimbanese about a priceless artifact called the mindsplinter (huh, that's familiar--Splinter of the Mind's Eye anyone?). Ren is ready to kill the unfortunate individual, until Ben steps in to probe his mind...his first attempt at the feat I might add! But will Ren really leave witnesses alive? Turns out Ben is in way over his head and he still doesn't quite feel like he belongs in this kill-happy group.
As this is all happening, Ben flashes back to Snoke relaying quite a powerful quote, "The Jedi believed their endless rules and codes of behavior made them stronger. When in fact it made them rigid. And so they were more easily broken." Dang, that is spot on!! Snoke goes on to then say about the Knights of Ren, "The Knights of Ren do as they please, which lends them fluidity. Whatever they need to do to survive, triumph...they will do." Of course I'd say they go a bit beyond this too...destroying just for the sake of utter destruction...but Snoke doesn't want Ben to know that quite yet.
Voe and Tai (the two remaining Jedi learners from Luke's Academy) happen to also be in what I'm assuming is a Mimbanese temple, and Ben disdainfully refers to them as "the past." Tai convinces Voe that he can convince Ben to fall back into the light and so he sets off to do just that. This conversation between Tai and Ben is actually super Anakin/Padme/Obi-Wan post-Anakin ransacking the Jedi Temple (the other parallel I mentioned above). Check out the Mustafar vibes of the imagery! And it's even a blue saber on blue saber battle! I really do love it so much! Tai says, "You can just stop. Turn around. Walk the other way. Every path goes in two directions." Ben's response? "The dark side and the light both claimed me for their own the moment I was born. Do you know how that feels?" I feel like Ben's truth is Anakin's as well, although Anakin doesn't show the struggle post-turning to the Dark Side like Ben does. But Anakin was a loving, happy child, always looking out for others...a child of the light if you will...until anything bad happened to his loved ones and he started leaning on the power of the dark. While we don't see too much of Ben's childhood, we do see his struggle with being fully dark and this comic series makes it ever so clear that the dark is not where he truly wants to be. He just feels so alienated and so alone and so much of a failure, that he sees no other path. And adding to the complication of matters, we see panels of Palpatine manipulating events, speaking into Ben's mind, coaxing him to go down the dark path. It couldn't have been easy to stay on the light side of the Force with someone as all powerful as Palpatine probing Ben's mind...clone or not.
I want to discuss one more thing before signing off. We actually get to see Ben bleeding his crystal!!! I am so happy they showed the creation of his Kylo Ren lightsaber!! In the process of bleeding the crystal, his eyes go Sith orange/red, sparks fly all around him, and the crystal cracks. Once he tries out the saber after dumping the cracked crystal in the chamber, things don't go so well and he realizes he needs extra attachments to dissipate the heat, hence, the tri-saber!! And not only that, but he does this on the Knights of Rens' ship that we see in TROS!! So good! I've been wanting something like this for awhile now and they actually gave it to us!!
So all in all, an extremely thought provoking issue! So much to digest, so many parallels to draw, and some truly brilliant imagery to back it all up. I'm so incredibly glad they came out with this series and it definitely shines a better light on our new favorite villain.
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