The Rise of Kylo Ren was a comic that I was very much looking forward to reading. I am not usually much of a comic book reader, however, I find the character of Ben Solo/Kylo Ren to be the most interesting and dynamic character in the Sequel Trilogy. Since The Force Awakens, I have always been interested in learning more about Ben’s turn to the dark side, as well as The Knights of Ren. While I feel like I still want to know more about this period of time, I think The Rise of Kylo Ren succeeds in telling the story of Ben’s turn, and how he became the leader of The Knights of Ren. If you enjoyed the Sequel Trilogy and the character of Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, I highly recommend giving this comic a read.
What It’s About
The Rise of Kylo Ren tells the story of what happened to Ben Solo in the moments and days after Luke confronted him and the Jedi temple burned down. Through the use of flashbacks, we witness moments such as Luke confronting the Knights of Ren for the first time, and even Luke training padawans at his Jedi temple. This comic shows both the victimization of Ben Solo, as well as the choices that led to Ben becoming Kylo Ren, the master of The Knights of Ren.
What I Thought
Issue #1 opens with an introduction to The Knights of Ren, and we learn that Ren is actually the name of their leader. From the moment I saw this character, I knew that Ben/Kylo would ultimately kill him and become the leader, but more on that later. The first issue is really about what happened during the moments after Luke and Ben’s confrontation, which we saw different versions of in The Last Jedi.
The most striking thing about the first issue for me was the fact that Ben didn’t want any of this. He didn’t want to destroy the temple, and in fact, I don’t even think he did. As it turns out, three Jedi that Luke had been training (Voe, Hennix, and Tai) had been off-world when these events happened, so they pursue Ben after they land on the planet and see the temple burning. They accuse Ben of murdering their master, Luke, and Ben is forced to face them. We also see Snoke for the first time in this issue and his appearance is very interesting. He is on a lush world and acting very much like a friend to Ben and showing empathy. It became clear to me in this issue that Ben is very much a victim, as much as he is an antagonist in the events that will continue to unfold.
Issue #2 picks up the conversation between Snoke and Ben, with Snoke encouraging Ben to find The Knights of Ren. Ben is really battling internal demons, as a result of the expectations that have been placed on him, given his Skywalker blood. Many moments in this comic made his redemption in The Rise of Skywalker even more believable (from my point of view). Most of this issue is actually a flashback that shows a confrontation between Luke, Ben, and Lor San Tekka against The Knights of Ren. I loved this issue for two reasons. One, I was always curious about Lor San Tekka’s connection to Luke Skywalker, and we see in this issue that they are searching for Jedi artifacts. Another reason I loved this issue is because Luke faces off against The Knights of Ren. Although I love the film, if I could change one thing about The Last Jedi, I wish the Knights of Ren would have found Rey and Luke on Ahch-To and a lightsaber battle would have taken place there. Luckily, some wish fulfillment takes place in this issue.
At the end of Issue #2, we see Ben embracing the idea of becoming a Knight of Ren, and he is confronted by Hennix, Voe, and Tai yet again. One thing I really enjoyed about Issue #3 was how it dove into each of these three Jedi and their personal stories. I especially loved seeing Luke training padawans outside of the Jedi temple. If there is a live-action/animated series I would love to see, it would cover this time period as Luke trains a new Jedi order, and Ben begins to succumb to the dark side. This issue really expanded upon the mythology of the Force, as Luke explains, “The Force can be a trickle, a stream, a river, a flood… for anyone who can sense it.” I love this explanation of how the Force can move through different people. For instance, I imagine for Rey the Force was like a flood, but for Finn it was more of a trickle or stream.
In the final moments of the third issue, we see that Ben is basically forced to face the trio of Jedi that have been pursuing him. They are accusing Ben of being a murderer, and it’s as if he feels the temptation to take on the identity of the label he’s been given. However, even as he Force pushes Voe off a cliff, he immediately feels regret and Hennix is killed in the process. Even in the beginning of the final issue, Ben attempts to extract information from the mind of a Mimban local, as opposed to the Knights killing him. Despite Ben’s attempts to choose the light, he ultimately succumbs to the dark side. In a final confrontation, Ben ends up killing Voe, Tai, and Ren. Ben gives in to the evil voices in his head, whether it be Snoke or Palpatine, the manipulator of evil. In a striking image at the end of the final issue of this comic run, we see Ben remove the Kyber crystal from his lightsaber, gripping it in his hand until he “bleeds” it red. The crystal is now so unstable that he has to reassemble his lightsaber into a crossguard hilt in order to support it.
- In Issue #1, we see Force Lightning setting the Jedi temple on fire, which could indicate that the Emperor actually set it on fire.
- At the end of Issue #1, Snoke calls Ben “my boy”, which is also what Palpatine calls him in the beginning of The Rise of Skywalker.
- In Issue #2, Lor San Tekka, who was played by Max Von Sydow in The Force Awakens, is traveling with Luke and Ben to find Jedi artifacts.
- Lor San Tekka mentions The High Republic, an era that is going to be explored in future Star Wars canon publications.
- Issue #3 features Luke Skywalker’s Jedi temple, which can be seen briefly in The Last Jedi before it was burned down.
- Mimban, a planet seen in Solo: A Star Wars Story, is the planet where Issue #4 takes place.
- “The Night Buzzard”, which is the ship that belongs to The Knights of Ren, can be seen in Issue #4
- Ben describes his ability to extract information from people’s minds as “a variation of the Jedi Mind Trick.”
- Like Palpatine explains in The Rise of Skywalker, we see the Emperor as one of the voices that’s inside Ben’s mind.
- Finally, we see how and why Kylo Ren has a crossguard lightsaber in the final moments of Issue #4.
I highly recommend The Rise of Kylo Ren if you are a fan of Star Wars comics, or even just a fan of the character. If you have already read it, let us know what you thought of it by leaving a comment below. If you are interested in diving even deeper into the psychology of Kylo Ren, check out episode 20 of our podcast!