Published: December 18, 2019
Writer: Charles Soule
Penciler: Will Sliney
Cover Artist: Clayton Crain
WITH BEN SOLO’S FALL… COMES KYLO REN’S RISE! Young Ben Solo is legendary Jedi Luke Skywalker’s most promising pupil. As the son of Rebel Alliance heroes Leia Organa and Han Solo, as well as Luke’s own nephew, Ben has the potential to be a great force for light in the galaxy. But the Skywalker legacy casts a long shadow, the currents of the dark side run deep, and Darth Vader’s blood runs in Ben’s veins. Voices call from both his past and his future, telling him who he must be. He will shatter, he will be reforged, his destiny will be revealed. Snoke awaits. The Knights of Ren await. Ben Solo’s path to his true self begins here.
All four cover variants for this first issue are amazing. Crain’s direct cover suggests how Darth Vader’s shadow looms over his grandson’s destiny, with the red and black colour scheme only adding to the moodiness. The Hamlet vibes of Carnero’s artwork are extremely clever, while Christopher’s action-figure variant really shows off Ben’s new padawan costume combined with an excellent likeness. Even the movie-variant works well with the red sparks in the background mimicking Kylo’s unstable lightsaber.
Ever since the revelation in The Force Awakens that Kylo Ren was the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa, fans have been wondering just how Ben Solo could have turned to the dark side. Bloodline by Claudia Gray offered some subtle hints, The Last Jedi provided shocking truths and now Soule is finally giving fans the full story in this new series. The Rise of Kylo Ren #1 is an exciting dive into the events straight after Luke’s fateful decision regarding his nephew’s life and leaves more questions than you’d think could possibly be answered in only another three issues.
After surviving an attempted murder and the destruction of the Jedi temple, Ben Solo stands at an extremely conflicted crossroads. Regretful and panicking, his situation is made even worse when some of Luke Skywalker’s other students return from an off-world mission demanding answers. Afraid to face the consequences of his actions, Ben briefly confronts his classmates and then runs – in the hope that his newly found freedom may provide a different destiny.
Right from the first few pages, Soule writes Ben as a complex character that is just as deep and conflicted as his on-screen counterpart. This is only reiterated by Sliney’s incredible artwork. Quite a few of the panels include very little or no dialogue, yet Sliney conveys so much emotion across Ben’s face and via body language alone. It is obvious that both Soule and Sliney spent a lot of time researching the character throughout the Sequel Trilogy and it’s really paid off. Already it is possible to see that Ben had choices about who to turn to and what side to take, and that his fate of becoming Kylo Ren may have been avoidable. It will be interesting to find out what planted these seeds of anger and loneliness in the upcoming issues.
One clue that Soule does provide is that Ben may not be acting on his own decisions but rather a voice in his head. Some of the panels nearer the end of the comic clearly depict someone speaking inside Ben’s mind, urging him on a path he may himself not have chosen. This is a nice tie-in with The Rise of Skywalker which provides the identity of this speaker for fans who have seen the film.
Three of Luke’s other students are introduced in this issue, Tai, Voe and Hennix, each having a different relationship with Ben. Tai seems to be the closest thing Ben has to a real friend, trying to figure out what’s happened and not wanting to blame him but rather provide help. Voe admits to not particularly liking Ben and seems jealous of his strength in the Force, while Hennix appears to have quite a neutral stance towards the young Solo. Hopefully Soule will expand their characters more as their distinct personalities are enjoyable to read, especially Hennix who has a real gift for sarcasm.
Without spoiling the ending of The Rise of Kylo Ren #1, Soule introduces readers to a character we already know, but not in the way we’ve seen them previously, and it’s quite a shock that’s masterfully written. It certainly makes you re-think their appearance in the films and leaves an almighty cliffhanger that fans have to survive for almost a month.
The Rise of Kylo Ren #1 is a fantastic start to a series that is clearly going to have a very emotional character-arc. Next month’s issue (or next year’s, depending on your point of view) is going to take fans backwards before the story goes forwards, as a much younger Ben Solo joins Lor San Tekka and Luke Skywalker on a dangerous mission into the Unknown Regions.
Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren #1 was published December 18, 2019 by Marvel Comics. This issue is available via The Marvel App and from all good comic bookstores and retails at $4.99.