The Rise of Kylo Ren comic series, written by Charles Soule and drawn by Will Sliney, has been phenomenal so far, showing us Ben Solo becoming the villain known as Kylo Ren – and in the meantime painting him as a sympathetic character.
The third issue was recently released, and it’s another success. If you missed the first two, I’ve linked to my other pieces about The Rise of Kylo Ren at the bottom of the article, for your convenience. In this penultimate issue, we see Ben Solo join forces with the Knights of Ren – which requires a death.
When we left off previously, Ben Solo – having turned to Snoke in the wake of the destruction of Master Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Temple – sets off to find the Knights of Ren, whom he had previously encountered while on a mission with Luke and Lor San Tekka.
In this issue, Ben finds them on the planet of Varnak, and he sits down to talk with Ren, the leader of the Knights. He explains that in order to join them, a good death is required, and Ben says that he achieved such an accomplishment – by killing a Jedi! Ren assumes he means Luke Skywalker, and says that he and Snoke aren’t so sure that Skywalker actually is dead. Ben clarifies that he’s not talking about Luke Skywalker but about someone else…
We then flash back to what happened on Elphrona before Ben came to the Knights. Three of Luke’s other students, assuming that Ben had killed Master Skywalker, tracked Ben down and confronted him, engaging him in a lightsaber battle. Ben says he killed, but Ren interrupts him, demanding to know why this is a good death. This forces Ben to explain the identities of these three students: Voe, Hennix, and Tai. They essentially grew up with Ben, training alongside him at Luke’s Temple. Voe saw the Force as a contest to win, and this caused her to always be trying to best Ben Solo – and being frustrated that she never could be better than the star pupil. Hennix saw the Force as a puzzle to unlock, and we see him unlocking a holocron with Master Luke. And Tai can use the Force to be empathetic, and it seems he understood Ben Solo in a way that few did.
In wake of explaining all of this – in explaining his connection and friendship with these other students – Ben is allowed to continue explaining what happened in his fight with them. We are shown the battle, and importantly, we are shown that Ben doesn’t want to fight and wants to escape. While Hennix and Tai take a more reasonable approach, Voe is out for blood, and pursues Ben. Frustrated, Ben uses the Force and pushes Voe off of a cliff, but then uses the Force to keep her in the air and save her. Hennix attempts to kill Ben while he’s distracted, but he deflects Hennix’s lightsaber throw back at him, killing him. Voe and Tai think that Ben killed Hennix intentionally (not having seen what happened), and Ben leaves them behind.
Ren isn’t satisfied with this, since Ben didn’t actually want to kill Hennix, but Ren accepts Ben into their ranks because Snoke vouched for him, and because Ben is strong with “the shadow” (what they call the Force). They dress Solo in a new all-black uniform and head off to find something to burn. Meanwhile, Voe and Tai emerge from the ruins of their battle and determine that Ben Solo is lost – and they’re going to end it.
It was cool seeing Ben Solo join the Knights of Ren in this issue, as very little has been known about the Knights previously. We knew that Snoke gifted them to Kylo Ren, and that he commanded them, but that’s it. I think it’s a brilliant touch that a large part of the reason why Solo was accepted by the Knights in the first place was that Snoke vouched for him, since that adds even more to the idea that Snoke has been manipulating the kid all along.
But what this issue also does it continue to show us that Ben Solo actually doesn’t really want any of this. He didn’t want to kill Luke Skywalker, and he didn’t destroy Luke’s Temple. He also didn’t kill any of Luke’s students on that fateful night. And he didn’t mean to kill any of them here, but accidentally killed Hennix by deflecting his own lightsaber back at him. Throughout this whole thing, Ben hasn’t wanted to be the villain. The comic paints him as a much more sympathetic figure, one who feels he has no other option. One who feels that everyone – from his Master to his fellow students – has turned against him. The only places he feels he can turn are to Snoke and the Knights of Ren – and, as we know, bad company corrupts good morals.
I’m not saying he’s blameless – and the murder of Han Solo in The Force Awakens should be enough proof of that – but he’s also not the cruel, heartless monster so many other villains are. At the heart of it, Ben Solo is a young man who feels abandoned and rejected by all he holds dear. And importantly, Charles Soule is showing us so far that Ben hasn’t wanted to kill any others, contrary to the assumption we initially had about what happened at Luke’s Temple. Soule is re-defining our understanding of Ben Solo and what lead to his rebellion, and it’s fantastic. There’s no one I’d rather have writing this series than Charles Soule, and I can’t wait to see how it concludes.
Other articles about The Rise of Kylo Ren you might like:
- The Rise of Kylo Ren #1 gives us a shocking revelation about the destruction of Luke’s Temple
- The Rise of Kylo Ren #2 shows Jedi Master Luke Skywalker fighting the Knights of Ren!
- The Rise of Kylo Ren #2 ties in to Solo in a brilliant and emotional way
- The Rise of Kylo Ren #2 makes it seem like Ben Solo was initially not aware of Snoke’s connection to the First Order
- We’ve only heard the term “High Republic” twice in Star Wars… and it’s very interesting where they appeared