Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Will Sliney
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Clayton Crain
It’s a big week for Star Wars. This Friday, the Saga concludes with The Rise of Skywalker. But before that, we’re finally getting some answers to questions we’ve had since 2015.
In Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren #1, veteran Star Wars comic writer Charles Soule sets out to tell the origin of the First Order’s latest Supreme Leader. Soule promised to take us “from Ben to Ren.” And it looks like he’s making good at that promise.
In this issue, we meet a Ben Solo we haven’t met before, except maybe for a second in flashbacks during The Last Jedi. We meet a Ben Solo on the razor’s edge between light and darkness. We feel the weight pushing him toward evil. More than perhaps in any of the films, we begin to understand him.
It’s a story that Star Wars fans have waited patiently to hear. I expected these answers after The Force Awakens, then again after The Last Jedi, but they never came. What was Luke’s Jedi temple like? Who are the Knights of Ren? How did Kylo meet Snoke?
To me, that blank space between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens is the Star Wars era most pregnant with story possibilities. Lucasfilm has barely dared to touch it, at least in regards to major characters.
But from the first panel, Soule begins answering questions (don’t worry, no spoilers here). And his answers don’t make the universe smaller. They make it bigger. The new details open new doors. They beg for more stories. But they are, in fact, answers. This is the story we’ve been waiting for.
It’s a story with real consequence. Up to this point, the canon books and comics have given us tons of character backstory, location details (who remembers that we had a Canto Bight novel?) and scattered side adventures. Compared to the cataclysmic epics of the Expanded Universe, the canon stories have felt supplementary at best. A notable exception is Soule’s own 25-issue Darth Vader comic run, which I consider to be one of the best Star Wars comics of all time. This book is lined up to be another fantastic exception.
It’s also refreshingly new: new locations, new ships, new characters. I don’t remember the last time a Star Wars story so confronted me with a world of fresh possibilities. I want to know more about every panel. That’s what a good Star Wars story should do.
I have little negative to say about this book. Visually speaking, it’s not the most stunning book on the shelves. With a few exceptions, Star Wars comic art over the last several years has felt mostly functional. But it functions. The art sticks close to the cinematic tone of the Saga, giving us a chance to pause and really soak in the new people and places.
But it’s the story that really keeps me. Because, as with Soule’s Vader run, we go deeper than fan service and question-answering. Now, when I sit down to watch The Rise of Skywalker for the first time, I’ll go in with a better understanding of who Ben Solo really is.
Pick up a copy of Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren #1 at your local comic shop today.
Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren #1
Classic Star Wars adventure9.0/10
Answers at last10.0/10
Art and colors8.0/10
The Knights of freaking Ren10.0/10
- New ship and droid designs
- That thing that maybe was also in the Episode IX trailer
- The Knights of Ren finally appear
- So many new possibilities and stories
- Somewhat plain art