The Knights of Ren are back, and they’re preparing to infiltrate Darth Vader’s Castle on Mustafar!
That’s the premise of Crimson Reign #4, written by Charles Soule, which is the fourth of five issues in the mini-series detailing Qi’ra’s plan to strike against the Sith as she leads Crimson Dawn in the period in-between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
She recruits the Knights of Ren to aid her in this task, and that’s where the focus of the fourth issue lies. Let’s jump in!
At some point in the past, Qi’ra finds the Knights of Ren on Varnak and offers them a job working for her, promising to help them regain their place of influence they had long before. They take her up on the offer, and in the present day the Knights are en route to Darth Vader’s Castle on Mustafar, sent by Qi’ra to recover a mysterious key. They don’t know what the key opens, but Qi’ra knows where the lock is – and it’s crucial to her plans.
The Knights secretly infiltrate the castle and find the key, but Vaneé finds them and sends the guards after them. The Knights fight back, until they realize the guards have retreated… because Darth Vader has arrived. He immediately kills one of the Knights, and he engages Ren in a lightsaber duel while the others escape. Vader wounds Ren, but the leader of the Knights of Ren decides to jump out of the castle, falling to re-join the others as they make their escape.
Ren takes a moment to taunt Vader over having escaped with the key, but Vader uses the Force to begin taking it back. The Knights attack him and cause him to lose concentration, allowing them all to escape with the key. The Knights realize they just jumped up on the “wanted” list of the Empire, while at the castle Vader contemplates this appearance of the Knights of Ren.
This was a good issue; it was far from spectacular and was relatively straightforward, but it was nonetheless entertaining. It’s always good to see more of the Knights of Ren, and it’s also cool to see Ren face off against Darth Vader. We’ve now seen Ren fighting both Vader and Luke Skywalker, father and son, so he’s lucky to have survived both encounters (though he’s later killed by the third generation of Skywalkers, Ben Solo). Ren is a compelling character, and getting more adventures with him and the rest of the Knights is always welcome.
And here we get some hints as to their past, too. When Qi’ra shows up to recruit them, she references their former state, what the Knights of Ren were well before any of the current Knights were even born. “My scholar friend over there told me about you. What you are and what you were,” Qi’ra says. “I know you want that back. Even if it’s been gone since long before you were born. You want to live in a galaxy where you don’t have to hide on backwater planets — always on the run, subsisting off scraps. Flying around in that ugly ship of yours. Stealing and killing to live.”
Vader also knows of them. When he discovers that the mysterious figure he’s fighting, who wields a red lightsaber, leads the Knights of Ren, he says, “You and your rabble… you are… the Knights of Ren? Pathetic. How far you have fallen. But there is still yet further to fall.”
There’s obviously a history there. Since they were first mentioned in The Force Awakens, just briefly, we have gotten some more context on the Knights, particularly on Ren. But we don’t know what happened prior to all of this, and what the Knights were like before Ren assumed command. It sounds like in a time long ago, long before this particular story, the Knights of Ren were more widely known and had far more influence and freedom in the galaxy to do as they pleased, power that has been curtailed and limited and hunted. We don’t know more than that, but I’m intrigued.
It also has me wondering whether we’ll see the Knights of Ren show up in any stories in the High Republic era. Were they around at that point? We don’t know, but it’s possible. And it would be a way of introducing some dark side users with a red lightsaber without introducing the Sith, which can’t really happen in the timeline.
Those details about the Knights of Ren are my main takeaway from this issue, because like I said the story is pretty straightforward. We see Vader’s Castle and Vaneé, which is cool, but the main intrigue is over the key. We don’t know what hte key is, but neither do the Knights of Ren. They just mention that Qi’ra knows what it opens, that Vader and the Emperor don’t, and that whatever it is remains pivotal to Qi’ra’s larger plans against the Sith.
We’ll just have to wait and see what it actually is.