Published: February 12, 2020
Writer: Charles Soule
Penciler: Will Sliney
Cover Artist: Clayton Crain
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 ELPHRONA – 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!
Although there are only two covers for this issue, both could not be more different. The symmetry of Ben Solo posed with Kylo Ren on Crain’s direct cover is an extremely interesting composition enhanced by the way that Kylo rises out of the flames of the Jedi Temple, which brilliantly links into the overall plot. Landini’s variant then suggests Ben’s Imperial lineage, with Darth Vader and TIE Fighters ominously overshadowing Kylo Ren.
After finally finding the Knights of Ren on the planet of Varnak, Ben Solo asks to travel with them for a while in order to learn what they know about the Force. Their leader, Ren, demands that the young Solo must have payed their entrance fee; he must have killed someone. Reluctantly, Ben recounts the story of his confrontation with Luke’s other students and how it ended in tragedy. His story is enough for a temporary acceptance into the Knights of Ren – but they want to test Ben even more.
During his tale Ben delves into his past and getting to see his younger days of Jedi training in The Rise of Kylo Ren #3 is one of the best parts of this story. There are levitation lessons that emulate Luke’s own training on Dagobah, playing with holocrons like Ezra Bridger, and then lightsaber combat practice reminiscent of Kanan’s teachings in “Trials of the Darksaber” from Season 3 of Star Wars: Rebels. It’s definitely an area that both fans of Ben Solo and Luke Skywalker would likely love to see explored in even greater depth.
The Rise of Kylo Ren #3 really begins to show Ben’s fall even more than the previous issues, and it’s all quite sad because it’s not technically Ben’s fault. Fear and misunderstanding, combined with a feeling of isolation, have led Ben to a place from which he doesn’t think he can come back. This is where Soule expands on Ben’s relationships with the other students and he’s written each uniquely in a way that feels very real and relatable. Voe and Ben were always in competition, Hennix was too absorbed in the puzzles of the Force, and Tai was clearly the friend that Ben didn’t want to admit he had.
Whilst Soule’s plot is extremely moving, Sliney’s artwork only adds to all the emotion. Throughout the fight with his former classmates, Ben’s facial expressions are rendered perfectly by Sliney, and what’s particularly impressive is how quickly yet subtly they change from panel to panel, as if you were watching Driver onscreen. Another highlight, although much smaller, is that Voe, Hennix and Tai each have uniquely designed lightsaber-hilts that reflect parts of their personalities and is similar to the lightsaber lore explored in “The Gathering” from The Clone Wars Season 5. However, the absolute best piece of design so far by Sliney is Ben’s new costume, given to him by the Knights of Ren to replace his Jedi robes, that’s similar in style to Han’s typical outfit but moodier, and more attractive looking.
Last month’s issue ended on confrontational notes that came to a devastating end in The Rise of Kylo Ren #3, although it could be considered accidental as what happened was due to self-defence. Soule keeps taking Ben down an ever-darker path, and the events of this issue are proof to the young Solo that he harbours a dangerous shadow inside. A shadow not becoming of a Jedi.
As the penultimate issue The Rise of Kylo Ren #3 is starting to weave Ben’s destiny as a Knight of Ren into place, but there are still a few unanswered questions and one more dramatic, challenging finale on the horizon. Now that Ben has joined the Knights of Ren his fate is, as fans already know, ultimately sealed and really there’s only one more important question left: how does Ben Solo become Kylo Ren, leader of the Knights of Ren?
Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren #3 was published on February 12, 2020 by Marvel Comics. This issue is available via The Marvel App and from all good comic bookstores and retails at $3.99.