The last issue of The Rise of Kylo Ren series, by Marvel, had a lot to do with the internal struggle of Ben Solo. If you are somebody like me who was clamoring for more Ben Solo after The Rise of Skywalker, this issue is one you need to pick up.
This comic starts with Ben Solo going on a mission with Ren and the rest of the Knights of Ren. The entirety of the comic takes place on The Minemoon of Mimban. Here, the Knights of Ren and Ben Solo search for an ancient relic, and Ben shows off his Force powers by looking into the mind of one of the hostages to find out where the relic is and announces the information to the rest of his crew. This is the same Force power that we see used on Poe Dameron and attempted on Rey in The Force Awakens. It was incredibly refreshing to see this tie into the Sequel Trilogy. After retrieving the information, Ren decides to “release” the hostages by killing them. This action visibly doesn’t sit well with Ben, and you can see the internal conflict dwelling inside of him.
Moments later, Ren, Ben, and the rest of The Knights of Ren run into Ben’s old Jedi peers, Voe and Tai. The next few pages of the comic show Ben engaging in combat with Tai, and it reminded me a lot of the Anakin/Obi-Wan duel at the end of Revenge of the Sith. You could tell that these were two people that were once close and might have even considered one another brothers at one point, and now they are squaring off against each other in a life or death scenario. They are also fighting in an area of this planet that is surrounded by orange and red crystal formations, which makes it look like they were fighting on Mustafar from an aesthetic perspective. This ends with Ben besting Tai in saber combat, and then as Tai is on his knees pleading for the mercy of Ben, Ren snaps his neck with the Force while standing behind Ben.
After this exchange, Ben and Ren face off in a saber battle, that while it was overwhelming to a degree, it was a visually stunning comic spread. It reminded me a lot of the Asajj Ventress and Anakin Skywalker duel in Genndy Tartakovsky’s version of Clone Wars. It is undoubtedly elaborate, and it was also visually spectacular. This display had an in-depth look at Ben channeling the inner rage that we see throughout the Sequel Trilogy. This includes people like Snoke and Palpatine infiltrating Ben’s mind pushing him further and further into the dark side of the Force. It also shows Leia trying to pull Ben to the light, and his equal in the Force Rey sensing his fall to the dark. It ends with Ben stabbing Ren in the air and then landing in a spot towering above Voe. Like Tai, she is pleading for her life, but Ben denies the pleads and says that her life is not worth living if she cannot be a Jedi and then kills her. This is another beautiful comic panel. It’s so simple, but I loved how it looked.
The comic, and the series, ends with Ben, now Kylo Ren, building his new crossguard lightsaber. He does so by taking a kyber crystal and crushing it in his hand. This causes the crystal to start to bleed, and Kylo starts to bleed from his hands as well. It shows that a conflicted boy, Ben, has now fully transitioned into the broken Kylo Ren.
All in all, this was a pretty good send-off for the character of Ben Solo transitioning to Kylo Ren. It is a beautiful looking comic with some excellent Star Wars moments. My biggest issue with the final comic in this series would have to be that it feels very rushed. Now I get that it is supposed to take Ben Solo and show the transition to Kylo Ren, but I just wanted more. Overall, I was very satisfied with this comic. As I mentioned before, it looks great, but I also felt a true emotional connection with Ben in this comic. The emotional connect was something I had not felt in a comic before. This issue was one of my favorites in the new canon Star Wars stories I’ve read.
Issue Score: 8/10
Since Patrick and I each reviewed half of this run, our final thoughts are below.
Will: While I do like all of the individual comics in this run, I think the pacing all feels a little off. Where this succeeds is as a character study of Ben Solo and the relationships that push him into what he becomes, Kylo Ren. Where this series falls flat is focusing so much on exterior characters like Ren. I frankly didn’t care for his backstory, and his primary use was to propel the story of Ben. Pacing wise, it feels so rushed, and the story seems so short. When I look at the other four-issue comic runs in Star Wars, they have succeeded at telling a story that feels fuller and like a complete arc. This run just seemed to come up short in a full story and has left me wanting more from it.
Patrick: While it’s interesting to see Ben reframed as a victim and there’s some strong character work done with him, The Rise of Kylo Ren doesn’t give itself enough time to nail its thesis. It’s a worthwhile read but may leave you wanting some more depth between its big moments.