Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Will Sliney
Lettering: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover: Clayton Crain
Release Date: February 12th, 2020
Reviewer: Steve Baum
Ben Solo wants to join the Knights of Ren. He even says he’s killed someone, and it’s not Luke Skywalker. So, who paid the price?
We start out with a quick set-up. Ben has arrived, tattered and torn, to meet the Knights of Ren in hopes of joining. We know the price, a “good death”, we just don’t know who’s paid it yet. Flashback to Elphrona and I couldn’t help but think of Joe Dirt telling the radio host all about his life and then cutting back and forth. Just me? Ok then. There is nothing wrong with conveying a story through the “interview” style, but the main Knight with the Diablo 2 rune stone helmet, came off to quirky. When I think Knights of Ren, I think no-nonsense, straight to the point badasses. That’s nothing I would knock the score for, just my interpretation. Who says mine is the only one?
As we move through the pages, Ben’s three former fellow Jedi each get fleshed out with their own personality and training style. Voe is never comfortable with herself, and struggles as her primary concern are not being the best she can be, but “beating” Kylo. Hennix is more cerebral in his training, seeking knowledge and understanding more so than power and ability. Tai seems more worried about helping Ben than himself, and we do get a nice couple of panels of what looks like genuine caring or friendship. The few panels showing Luke’s training methods were a nice touch; always caring and patient, he seems to have all the right words for his students’ troubles.
The issue is well-paced, bridging us back and forth between the past fight and the current explanation to the knights. As he was being pursued by his former friends, it’s clear that Voe is the aggressor, and Tai and Hennix are begging for a more reasonable, level-headed solution. After being accused of murder, Ben momentarily loses his cool and force-thrusts Voe off the cliff, only managing at the last moment to “catch” her, though he can’t hold it long. Ben loses his hold after being blindsided by Hennix, but Voe is caught at the last second by Tai. The action flows nicely, and again the artist/colorist do a great job of conveying movement and danger. Where it gets a little unclear to me is the panels where Ben appears to use the force to destroy the temple. It would seem that he’s crushed his former friends in the debris, and it’s even less certain what happened to Hennix. That being said, the panel showing Ben bringing down the temple is a good one, and we get another sense of the scale of Ben’s power. The knights decide that even though it didn’t appear Ben WANTED to kill anyone, his pull with Snoke and his raw power are enough to convince them. He’s officially a Knight of Ren. The final panels show Voe and Tai coming to the realization that maybe their friend can’t be saved, as they draw their lightsabers over the body of (a presumed dead) Hennix.
Three issues in, and everything about this series has been very consistent. And consistently good. The writing is clever and draws you in, as each issue seems to draw on a storytelling “trope”. But that’s ok, it gives a fresh feeling to each issue. The art and color never dip below average, with spikes of marvelous, and action/fighting are always very well drawn. Each issue ends with a sufficient but not over-the-top cliff-hanger. My only complaint is with how the faces are sometimes drawn, but it’s easily overlooked when every other aspect is so good and so much fun. I was worried that we’d never flesh-out these three random Jedi buddies of Kylo, but the creative team did a great job of doing just that this issue. As usual, I can’t wait until the next issue.