The Rise of Kylo Ren is the first Star Wars comic I’ve ever read and boy was it a great start! I absolutely adored the book and loved the glimpse into Ben Solo’s backstory we got. The introduction of fellow Jedi Padawans, Hennix, Tai and Voe added weight to Ben Solo’s betrayal. We got an insight into Ben’s relationships with his fellow Padawans, his close friendship and bond with Tai, it made his ultimate betrayal and turn to the dark side much more impactful. Ren, the leader of the Knights of Ren, was also an incredible new addition to the Star Wars lore. He felt important. He felt intimidating. He had the potential to be an incredible character that I hope we see more of in future Star Wars stories, although I’m not holding my breath after the events of this story.
The problem is, this book and everything in it did a fantastic job in making Ben’s downfall and eventual redemption feel much more important. It felt more significant for Ben to return to the light after we saw how long he’d actually been dealing with his conflicted feelings, with his first conversations with Snoke taking place years before his eventual betrayal. We got a much needed deeper look at the Knights of Ren, we got to see how impressive they are as a group and we got a little look at a hint of a back story for them. We got to see the obstacles Ben had to face before becoming Kylo Ren. I can’t help but think that if we’d have seen all of this before Rise of Skywalker was released, the events of that film would have had a much bigger impact. Watching Ben single handled defeat the Knights of Ren would have felt much more impressive if we had seen them in action the way we did in this book. If we knew their backstory and we saw how their relationship with Ben came to be, it would have felt more significant to see him turn on them and defeat each and every one of them.
I also think that if we had seen how long Ben and Snoke had actually been in contact and we’d have seen how long Ben wrestled with his inner demons, before he eventually turned on Luke and sided with Snoke, only to finally turn back to the light, it would have felt like a much bigger deal. The movies barely give us the slightest inclination at how long Ben had tried to fight the dark before eventually joining Snoke, if we’d have known how long it had taken then I think Ben turning on Snoke in The Last Jedi and then finally redeeming himself would have had so much more weight to it and created a genuinely emotional and feel good moment in the character’s story arc.
I honestly just think that if we’d have gotten this book a little earlier then maybe Rise of Skywalker would have felt like a much more satisfying end to the Skywalker saga and to Ben Solo’s story arc… For us comic books fans at least!