We’re now halfway through The Rise of Kylo Ren, the four-part comic miniseries written by Charles Soule and illustrated by Will Sliney, that focuses on Ben Solo becoming Kylo Ren. And I have to say, the first two issues have been absolutely fantastic!
In the second issue, released this week, we are given a flashback to the time when Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, his apprentice Ben Solo, and Lor San Tekka went exploring – and came face-to-face with the Knights of Ren!
Let’s dive in!
This issue picks up where the previous one left off, with Ben visiting Snoke and contemplating his next move. Ben wants to go find the Knights of Ren, and we learn that he had encountered them once before… and then we are given a flashback to when that happened.
Luke flies a ship to Elphrona, with Lor San Tekka and Ben Solo accompanying him. Lor San Tekka had received information about an old Jedi Outpost on Elphrona, which is near the Unknown Regions, and he speculates that it was established during the High Republic era. Ben, however, is contacted by Snoke through a voice in his head asking how he’s doing, and Ben bemoans having to go with Skywalker on another mission to find artifacts. “He’s an amazing teacher, very strong,” Ben tells Snoke through his thoughts. “I’ve learned so much from him… but he never seems to want me to use any of it.”
They arrive at the Outpost and find it incredibly well-preserved, and Luke takes the time to remember a few of his other artifact-finding missions. But Luke and Ben both suddenly sense cold, and it’s then they discover the Knights of Ren. They are also there to take what’s in the Outpost, but Luke says that everything in it belongs to the Jedi – which means him, since he’s the last of the Jedi, but not for long (as he looks at Ben). “You will leave here with nothing but your lives,” Luke tells the Knights of Ren. Ben steps up to defend his master, saying, “This is Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. He is a legend!” Luke orders Ben to defend Lor San Tekka while he ignites his lightsaber to face all seven Knights of Ren. Ben is worried for his master, but Luke more than holds his own, saying, “I am one man. But I am not alone. The Force is my ally. And it is powerful.” Luke easily dispatches the Knights and disarms them, much to the amazement of Lor San Tekka and Ben Solo.
With only the leader left, called Ren, the Knights prepare to retreat. But Ren uses the opportunity to target Ben, telling Luke that the same darkness the Jedi had sensed in the Knights of Ren resided in Ben. Ren removes his mask and sets it down in front of Ben, saying that if he ever wants something a little different to look them up. The comic then returns to the modern day, with Ben trying to find the Knights, and he returns to Elphrona to find Ren’s helmet. He puts it on and it allows him to communicate with Ren, who tells Ben where to come find them. But before Ben can leave, the other students from Luke’s Temple finally track him down and confront him.
This issue was really cool, and obviously the most notable part about it was Luke Skywalker facing the Knights of Ren. I loved every moment of it, from him igniting the green to him talking about the Force as his ally to him disarming the Knights rather than killing them, to Ben and Lor San Tekka watching on in amazement. This is Jedi Master Luke Skywalker in his prime. I have mentioned before that based on Kylo Ren’s reaction to seeing Luke and his power on Crait, Ben Solo must have seen some pretty powerful things during his training with Luke, and this is just one example of that. Luke Skywalker faced down all seven Knights of Ren at once, and not only did he win, he won with ease. Now that the sequel trilogy has concluded, I really want to see more stories about Luke during the period in-between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and this is everything I hoped it would be.
But it also plays a pivotal role in Ben Solo’s story, it seems. We realize that the Knights of Ren didn’t originate with Kylo Ren, and that he actually had encountered them before, with Luke. I thought it was a really good touch to have Ren point out to Luke that the same shadow resided inside Ben that resided inside the Knights of Ren, as Ben could hear it too. In TFA Leia says that it was because of the darkness inside Ben that she sent him to train with Luke, so obviously Leia, Han, and Luke were well aware of this fact already. And, I’m guessing, so was Ben. But to hear this dark side user point it out in front of Ben and in a way so as to taunt Luke was a really good touch. Luke obviously isn’t having any of it and orders Ren to leave, but Ren makes an offer that Ben would pick up on years later.
It also is revealed that Snoke knew about the Knights of Ren, and The Rise of Skywalker Visual Dictionary actually says that, “The Knights were gifted to Ben Solo by Snoke.” I’m really curious to find out what all this means. I wonder whether Snoke actually was the one who sent the Knights of Ren to Elphrona or not? Ben tells Snoke exactly where they’re going, so is it just coincidence that the Knights of Ren are there at the same time… or something more? The comic doesn’t make it obvious, but I wonder.
One last thing to point out is that Ben wasn’t a huge fan of going on these missions with Luke, exploring the galaxy searching for artifacts, but more so that Ben was frustrated that Luke wouldn’t let him use all that he had learned. This is not a new issue for a pupil, as an apprentice can’t just learn things and be set loose to use them however he or she chooses; they must instead learn how to use things and how to control them. But this is a classic setup for Ben to feel disillusioned with Luke: he feels that Luke is just concerned with finding historical artifacts to put them in a Temple rather than make use of them, and that Luke is teaching Ben tons of stuff but not letting him use them… in other words, that Luke is limiting Ben. Which is an easy avenue for Snoke to manipulate the confused and frustrated young boy.
I am LOVING this series so far and can’t wait for the next one! I give the first two issues the highest recommendation.