Review by Frank Plowright
The final cycle of Star Wars films saw Kylo Ren emerge as the primary villain, massively conflicted by both family ties and the influence of the Force. The Rise of Kylo Ren is the story of how he switched from one identity to another.
In the films Kylo Ren followed a path already taken by Anakin Skywalker in becoming Darth Vader, which left some Star Wars fans disappointed at the repeated plot. Charles Soule’s writing dances between the moments of the film continuity to provide a cohesive chronological reckoning of how a prize Jedi pupil came to lead the galaxy’s most feared force. The plot duplication in the films may have been contentious, but Soule rises above that, able to add depth by showing just what a long game Snoke was playing, as we see the youthful Kylo accompanying his father and uncle. We’re introduced to the Knights of Ren and their disturbing ways, and see how Kylo become one of them.
The adventure is brought to life by Will Sliney, whose pages drip with the love of a man who seems to have waited his entire life to draw Star Wars. Sliney has always been a good artist, but this is the real deal, with first rate cast likenesses and an amazing amount of work put into the design and presentation of fully detailed backgrounds and locations. The sample pages are stunners, and plenty more equally good are to be found.
Soule tells most of his story in the present day as other Jedi trainees attempt to stop the man who’ll become Kylo Ren, and the dips back to the past mean we see Jedi legend Luke Skywalker. Despite a tight film continuity locking him in, Soule still sustains tension and throws in a few surprises, including the backgrounds of other characters from the films. He also underlines how the journey to becoming Kylo Ren was a hardening process, one of ideals gradually discarded. You might consider you know everything you need to about Kylo Ren, but Soule proves that’s not the case in a shocking story featuring amazing art.