Review: A Seed Planted for Ben Solo in Marvel’s The Rise of Kylo Ren #2
Hello there! Charles Soule continues to tell the story of how Ben Solo came to claim the name Kylo Ren – and ultimately, how he came to lead the Knights of Ren. There’s not much I can say about this issue without giving away spoilers, so let’s just jump right in. If anyone reading has yet to see The Rise of Skywalker, there are SPOILERS AHEAD….
When we last left Ben Solo, he’d just arrived at this arboretum planet, which a much more benevolent version of Snoke suggests is a harbor of the “light side” of the Force. Ben Solo is very confused, after he believes his uncle and teacher just tried to kill him, and he’s searching for answers outside the dogma of light versus dark.
Ben is well aware of the legacies from which his name stems – and he’s not wrong. This is something I hadn’t even considered and it’s such a huge point writer Charles Soule makes. ‘Ben’ was the name Obi-Wan gave himself to evade anyone hunting for Jedi and ‘Solo’ was the name Han gave himself while trying escape Corellia. Ben clearly has problems with inheriting these aliases and it just adds to the tragic legacy of the Skywalker family (not to mention the Organas) put upon his shoulders. It’s just so sad that he views his identity as an amalgamation of lies. It goes to show the neglect and carelessness with which he was raised didn’t at all set him up for any kind of success – not to mention…life.
We’re well aware now that Snoke was something of a Palpatine-proxy. What Snoke said, Palpatine said, but for the purpose of this review, I’m just going to refer to Snoke’s actions as Snoke’s actions. After a droid alerts Snoke to an incoming transmission from General Hux – whom Snoke brushes aside quickly – he tells Ben that if he seeks out the Knights of Ren he will find his TRUE name. Snoke even admits he was not always called Snoke, but took on the name. Ben has a name in mind, which Snoke detects, but Ben is hesitant to say. Snoke is in full manipulation mode and sees his victim ripe for the picking. Ben feels his parents, his family, his legacy, and his teacher have given up on him. He just wants answers. Unfortunately, we know who is feeding him those.
Snoke sends Ben away and warns him joining the Knights of Ren will cost him. He also references Ben meeting them before and we flashback to Luke Skywalker, Ben Solo, and Lor San Tekka seeking out a remote Jedi temple. We find that Ben has been communicating with Snoke through the Force, letting him know what he’s up to. Snoke pretends to be concerned, so Ben tells him everything to reassure him they are okay. We get the sense Ben has been along for several of these voyages. Also, Lor San Tekka makes a reference to the ‘High Republic’ – a period in which the Jedi flourished. We hear Snoke planting seeds of doubt and hinting at Jedi arrogance in Ben’s mind. Ben shares the same frustrations Anakin did – like Anakin loved Obi-Wan but felt he was being held back, Ben is grateful for his uncle but doesn’t feel like he’s being allowed to explore his potential.
Luke remarks how much of a treasure trove they’ve come upon, noting it’s even more significant than what he discovered from Jocasta Nu’s cache. I’m so happy for how much respect Charles Soule not only has for canon pertaining to his own Star Wars stories, but for how well he references other comics. Unfortunately, this unveiling of Force artifacts is shortly lived.
The Knights of Ren reveal themselves, in a familiar greeting. Luke is not at all intimidated by them, simply warning them they are trespassing and these artifacts belong in the care of the Jedi. At one point Luke refers to himself as ‘the last Jedi’, but implies that title is temporary, nodding to his nephew. The Knights of Ren are eager for a fight.
It would be hard to match this cell in any further Kylo issues. This is so sad. I can’t help but think of Luke remembering this moment when he recounted to Rey how he lost Ben. Ben demonstrates his loyalty and devotion, not only to the Jedi and his master, but to his family. The Knights of Ren aren’t at all intimidated, but neither is Luke.
If you were hoping for a video-game, Force-unleashed moment for Luke Skywalker…well, you get a glimpse. But, I admire Charles Soule’s interpretation of the canon. Ultimately, Luke is a pacifist, and he merely disarms the Knights of Ren. I’m so grateful Soule chose this interpretation because it truly honors the character of Luke Skywalker. Ultimately, Luke tossed aside his lightsaber when her realized love could win, and he’s not going to walk down the dark path of aggression for these Knights of Ren clowns. Also, it’s extremely satisfying when Luke regards them as nothing more than a nuisance.
As soon as the Knights of Ren realize they’re no match for the last Jedi, they decide to vacate the premises. The leader senses something in Ben and suggests the way of the Jedi may not be for Ben Solo. Interestingly, Luke gets very stern and suggests if they don’t leave there will be consequences. The leader leaves behind his mask and tells Ben if he ever wants to learn more about his ‘shadow’ he could. Ben has remembered this and Snoke has ultimately sent him back to the same temple.
Kylo Ren ultimately seemed like one of the saddest characters in Star Wars to me. Sadness manifests itself often in anger and there was a terrible sadness in every action he did – up until unconditional love saved him. At this point, Ben Solo feels helpless. His family has abandoned him, the Jedi are dead (not by his hand), and he has reached a dead end. The only thing he has left to cling to are the voices who he feels have guided him.
The Jedi still want answers and let’s hope Ben has some!
Writer Charles Soule has done an incredible job of telling the last days of Ben Solo. At this point, we all know how this story ends, but I think it’s so important for many fans to understand where it began. Ben Solo wasn’t born a monster. Whatever you think of Kylo Ren, this visage was the manifestation of neglect and the desire for belonging. Ben sought that belonging through the avatar of Kylo, delving deep into the darkness and harnessing an empire to reconcile his desire to fulfill a destiny never meant for him (or anyone). Kylo believed in the prophecy of Vader – while it was a prophecy misunderstood, he saw it as a path to fulfillment and one he felt he needed to take to correct the errors of the past and those who raised him and he felt abandoned by. Ben Solo continues to be one of the most tragic figures in Star Wars.