The Reluctant Jedi Master And Apprentice In Marvel's Star Wars Age of Republic: Obi-Wan Kenobi - Star Wars News Net | Star Wars News Net
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The Reluctant Jedi Master And Apprentice In Marvel’s Star Wars Age of Republic: Obi-Wan Kenobi

I wasn’t at all envious of Obi-Wan Kenobi at the conclusion of The Phantom Menace, when he took it upon himself to fulfill his master’s dying request to train a young boy who was unusually powerful with the Force. It wasn’t so much because I knew he’d be the death of Kenobi or that it would lead to an exile on a desert planet at the edge of nowhere; it was because actor Ewan McGregor did such a good job of portraying the mask of blind stubbornness that Kenobi used to mask his great uncertainty when Yoda warned him of the danger. Obi-Wan was torn between loyalty to the person who’d raised him and grave doubt about whether he was doing the right thing. This issue of Marvel’s ongoing Age of Republic series does an excellent job of capturing Obi-Wan Kenobi in the midst of that uncertainty. SPOILERS AHEAD….

 

 

 

If you enjoyed Charles Soule’s Obi-Wan & Anakin series from 2016 (hard to believe that was 3 years ago), this will be very familiar, but it takes us even further back to a pre-teen Anakin finding his place in the Jedi Order. We actually get a glimpse here of Obi-Wan as a youngling and we learn that Anakin didn’t get to skip the youngling lessons just because he’s the Chosen One or his midi-chlorian count. Obi-Wan seems to be struggling with imparting confidence on his apprentice. The excellence he hoped to pass down from his own training seems to be at a slow trickle. The fact is that Obi-Wan was not ready to take on a Padawan learner and he’s not sure how well he’s going to be able to instruct Anakin.

 

 

Because Qui-Gon Jinn was only in one film, I tend to forget how large he must have loomed over Obi-Wan, especially after his unexpected death. I always think about the best teachers I’ve had when I’m trying to share knowledge that they’ve given me and often wonder if I’m doing anywhere close to as good a job as they did. No different here with Jedi training. Training Anakin was Qui-Gon’s final request and Obi-Wan’s promise, so I don’t know why I failed to take into account how incredibly daunting that must have been for someone who just barely became a Jedi in their own right.

 

 

When word reaches Obi-Wan that an ancient Jedi Holocron has been unearthed by an archaeology team on the planet Dallenor, the Jedi Master must leave his Padawan behind to go on the mission. Anakin laments that he’s sick of spending time doing lessons with the younglings. Later, in the Jedi Archives, Yoda has no doubt picked up on the challenges young Anakin’s training has presented to both apprentice and master. In a surprise to Obi-Wan, Yoda suggests that Anakin accompanying the Jedi Master might be a way to instill confidence in both of them. Obi-Wan bluntly says that he’s surprised Yoda would make such an unorthodox suggestion, considering how ominous his mentions of Skywalker have been in the past. Yoda just wants Anakin trained properly.

 

 

Anakin joins Obi-Wan and on their way to Dallenor, he inquires about Obi-Wan’s early life. Don’t hold your breath, canon junkies, other than we learn Obi-Wan has almost no memory outside of the Jedi Order because he was identified as Force-sensitive at such a young age. It still seems strange to me that children were just handed off to the Jedi because of their abilities and then never saw their families again. Whatever the future of the Jedi holds in the Star Wars Universe, I wouldn’t be surprised this quasi-feudal system of recruitment became a thing of the past. I’m sure the Jedi meant well and the families wanted their children to learn the best way to use their powers, but I have to imagine there are some pretty interesting stories about families of Force-sensitives that didn’t want their children indoctrinated by Jedi. I mean, there’s a little part of me that thinks Obi-Wan’s explanation here is very similar to Finn confiding in Rey how he was taken by his family to be a part of the First Order. We also see that Anakin has not forgotten the council’s rejection and he’s afraid Obi-Wan feels like he’s been forced to train Anakin, which Obi-Wan denies. There’s a lot of insecurity amidst this tutelage.

 

 

The pair arrives on Dallenor to meet the archaeology team and lean a group of pirates has taken interest in the Holocron. They don’t know what it is, just that it’s valuable. Obi-Wan prepares to enter the excavation site and leaves Anakin behind to guard the pirates, an exercise in confidence building for the padawan.  Again, canon junkies, don’t get your hopes up. My heart starts beating a little faster when I hear about ancient Jedi Holocrons, too, but we don’t get any explanation about this other than it is old and Obi-Wan is taking it back to the Jedi Council so they can identify who it belongs to. Maybe this little gem will reappear in later issues. Holocrons aside, Anakin comes running into the site to inform Obi-Wan that the pirates have arrived.

 

 

Obi-Wan, in his typical “I’ll smile and charm you, but this lightsaber hanging from my belt…you really don’t want me to use it” manner addresses the situation. The pirates don’t listen and an expected ass-kicking via my favorite Jedi Master ensues, all while Anakin watches. One of the pirates sneaks up behind Anakin and takes him hostage, pressing a blade to his throat.

 

 

Instead of Obi-Wan intervening, he allows Anakin to deal with it. Anakin uses the Force and hurls a cloud full of rocks at his captor. Obi-Wan warns the rest of them that he’ll let Anakin do some more practice on them if they don’t go away. It’s a teachable moment for both apprentice and master about confidence and trust. While Obi-Wan could have dealt with the situation, he allowed Anakin to solve the problem for himself. Since we are meeting them at a very vulnerable point, it’s good to see this sort-of trust-building exercise presented itself. Unfortunately, nothing in that lesson about the high ground.

 

 

On the way back to Coruscant, Anakin feels like he failed by getting captured in the first place. He feels like that means he wasn’t ready to join Obi-Wan on a mission. Obi-Wan reassures him that he’s always been ready and it was only his master’s uncertainty with himself and his abilities to teach that kept Anakin from joining him much sooner. Obi-Wan confesses his reluctance to train Anakin stemmed from his failure to save Qui-Gon, something I never knew haunted Obi-Wan (and wow). If Obi-Wan couldn’t save Qui-Gon, how can he save an apprentice if they are ever in danger? Anakin suggests they always remember to save each other, just as Qui-Gon would’ve wanted. The student teaches the master.

 

Writer Jody Houser has done a great job telling a very contained story that shows a pivotal moment in Anakin and Obi-Wan’s relationship. These are the moments I think of when Obi-Wan reflects to a young Luke Skywalker about his late father being a “good friend” in A New Hope. I’m very much in favor of moving forward in the canon, but when we come back to the prequel era, I hope we get more stories like these. The turmoil of the galaxy is relatively low at this point and it gives us fans to see these characters building the relationships that we saw in the films. This story is an excellent example of that, complemented by great art from artists Cory Smith and Wilton Santos, inker Walton Wong, and colorist Java Tartaglia. This is a solid entry in the Age of Republic series and a great addition to the respective stories of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.

 

RATING: 7.5/10

 

 

 

 

Kyle Larson lives in Portland, Oregon. When he’s not running trails, he’s reading and writing.

 

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