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Comic Book / Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren

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Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren is a four-part comic book miniseries set in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, written by Charles Soule and drawn by Will Sliney. The story is partially inspired by notes provided by J. J. Abrams and Chris Terrio for Kylo Ren's backstory in The Rise of Skywalker, after The Force Awakens first hinted at it and The Last Jedi expanded upon it — recontextualizing much of what the audience knows about the character. Most of the story is set in the immediate backstory of the Sequel Trilogy, just as the title character began his Start of Darkness.

Ben Solo, who is the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa, was handed off to the Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker at a young age, and he quickly became his uncle's star pupil as the Jedi Master begun training a new generation of Jedi students all at once. Due to possessing a raw, untamed power with the capacity for both darkness and light within himself, Ben also became a target for corruption by Snoke, a mysterious figure tied to the Dark Side of the Force, who presents himself as an ally to the young boy. Ben himself feels the weight of massive expectations placed upon him, as the son of two of the New Republic's greatest heroes and the apprentice of one of the strongest Jedi who ever lived, bearing upon him, and he has questions about whether or not he's truly in control of who he's meant to be.

At some point during his childhood, Ben, Luke, and Lor San Tekka go to a Jedi outpost on Elphrona for supplies, with the young Jedi frustrated that his uncle hasn't yet allowed him to reach his true potential as a student. While there, they encounter the Knights of Ren, lead by their eponymous leader Ren — who ultimately prove to be no match for Luke. Before leaving the supplies to Luke, Ren presents an offer to the young child — the promise of another path for him to take. Ben begins to question if his path as a Jedi is what's right for him, as Ren leaves an open offer for the young boy to one day join their ranks.

Flash forward several years later, and Ben Solo believes that he's accidentally killed his uncle in self-defense after a crucial misunderstanding. While Ben is angered and confused by the incident, a sudden storm causes a massive blast that causes the destruction of his Jedi Temple, and many of the people in it — which Ben believes that he's caused. After several of his fellow students arrive Late to the Tragedy, they blame Ben and vow to avenge their master. With nowhere else to turn, Ben is forced to meet with Snoke, who then advises Ben to take up the offer that Ren presented years ago. As he seeks a new identity of his own choosing and is pursued by ghosts from his past, Ben finds himself on a crash course with destiny...

The events of the story were loosely adapted in a more comedic, kid-friendly fashion as one of three shorts in the anthology Halloween Special LEGO Star Wars: Terrifying Tales, with the short in question spoofing The Lost Boys. It stars Christian Slater as the voice of Ren.

This work contains examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: Ben kills Hennix this way. After Ben throws Voe off a cliff then tries to float her back up, Hennix believes Ben has already killed her and throws his lightsaber at Ben. Ben Force-pushes the lightsaber back at Hennix, unintentionally killing him.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Ren, leader of the Knights of Ren, says he and his followers follow the "Ren". The "Ren" is a lightsaber.
  • A Good Way to Die: To join the Knights of Ren, someone must cause a "good death". From their point of view, this means intentionally killing someone. Ben initially fails this because Hennix was an Accidental Murder, but he secures two "good deaths" by killing Ren and Voe.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • Multiple in- and out-of-universe sources unambiguously stated that Ben destroyed the Jedi Temple and most of his fellow students when he turned to the dark side, but issue #1 turns this ambiguous. In the prologue, Ren tells the Knights of Ren, "Let's go find something to burn." After Ben collapses his hut on Luke, Ben watches with red in his eyes as a red storm cloud gathers over the temple. He's confused and horrified as lightning explodes the temple and kills everyone inside, then tries and fails to run inside the burning temple before another explosion. Ben may have impulsively or unintentionally created the storm then immediately regretted it, or only witnessed the storm created by someone else: the Knights of Ren, Snoke, or Palpatine.
      Ben Solo: I never... I didn't want this.
      Voice: And you did not choose it, Ben. The Jedi did. Skywalker.
    • In issue #1, Ben meets with Snoke on a garden planet after escaping the destroyed Jedi Temple. Ben comments, "Look what Master Skywalker did to you". Ben could mean Luke caused Snoke's deformities, is the reason Snoke is alone on a garden planet, or possibly both.
    • In issue #2, one of Snoke's droids interrupts a meeting between Ben and Snoke with a message from Brendol Hux. It's unclear when Snoke and Brendol Hux began communicating and what either's role is in bringing the other into the First Order.
  • Call-Back:
  • Call-Forward:
    • Luke effortlessly defeats the Knights of Ren using his lightsaber and the Force. Ben would later do the same thing in The Rise of Skywalker.
    • When Ben joins the Knights of Ren, he holsters his lightsaber on his back and draws it over his shoulder. He uses this same draw in The Rise of Skywalker.
    • When an older Voe and Tai confront Ben, he refers to them as "the past".
  • Call to Agriculture: After whatever happened between Luke and Snoke, Snoke is now in apparent exile in a light sided garden, which he is slowly corrupting. However, it is shown he is still communicating with the galaxy outside, as one of his droids mentions he has a message from Brendol Hux.
  • The Cameo: Issue #4 features two sets of cameos:
    • When Ben fights Ren, other Force users can feel the change as Ben is pushed to the dark side. Snoke, Leia and Palpatine all make appearances, as well as a younger Rey saying she feels something cold.
    • When bleeding the kyber crystal, visions of Ben's parents, Luke, Chewbacca, and Lando appear. His recently deceased friend Tai also appears.
  • Child Prodigy: Ben asserts to the other Padawans he was the strongest of Luke's students. The students later acknowledge Ben really was the most powerful student at the Temple.
  • Cool Mask: Ren's face mask, which he explains is intentionally intimidating.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Luke Skywalker versus the Knights of Ren. Though Luke is outnumbered, this is still no challenge for him and they soon flee.
  • The Corrupter:
    • Snoke is this for Ben, going at least as far back as Ben's early years of apprenticeship to Luke.
    • In issue #4, Palpatine telepathically encourages Ben towards the dark side.
  • Dark Reprise: Ben's meeting with Snoke in the garden is an evil parallel of Luke's interactions with Yoda on Dagobah.
  • Deadly Graduation: Ren offers a Force-sensitive fugitive the opportunity to join him if he kills his non-sensitive brother. The non-sensitive brother strikes first, only for Ren to tell him the offer wasn't for both of them.
  • Deadpan Snarker: When Ren anticipates killing Luke, Luke fires back with this gem of a retort.
    Luke Skywalker: Can we just skip to the part where you all run out of here crying?
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Ben Solo hates his name. He never met Obi-Wan and resents being named for someone he never met, and he considers Han a "fake" after learning "Solo" isn't his father's real last name.
  • Doomed by Canon:
    • Voe, Hennix, and Tai were off-world when the Jedi Temple was destroyed, but they were still screwed because by The Force Awakens, Luke is once again the last of the Jedi. Hennix dies in issue #3, and Voe and Tai both die in issue #4.
    • Ren is doomed since Kylo is the leader of the Knights of Ren before the start of "The Force Awakens.'' Kylo kills Ren in issue #4.
  • Dramatic Irony: The three Jedi learners assume Luke perished in the collapse of his temple. Anyone who watches the movies know that this is not the case.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Ben finds a holocron containing a recording from Avar Kriss, a Jedi from the time of the High Republic.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold:
    • Luke and Ben both mention they feel cold right before the dark side aligned Knights of Ren appear.
    • Rey feels Ben's fall to the dark side, describing it as something that "feels... cold."
  • Evil Wears Black: The Knights of Ren wear all black, and when Ben joins them, he changes into a black to reflect he's turning to the dark side.
  • Exact Words: After getting the information from the Mimban miners, Ren says to release them. The Knights of Ren then kill them all, "releasing" the miners from life.
  • Fan Disservice: Ren is constantly shirtless and has a pretty impressive physique, but his torso is covered in scars and burn marks.
  • Freudian Trio: The three students who found Ben after the temple's destruction and tracked him down are Voe, Hennix, and Tai:
    • Id: Voe is the most impulsive and views Ben as her rival.
    • Ego: Tai has the closest bond with Ben, and acts like The Heart and The Empath.
    • Superego: Hennix views the Force like a puzzle to solve and wants the others to think things through.
  • Foreshadowing: During their initial confrontation, Ben accidentally injures Hennix. Hennix ends up being the first apprentice to die, inadvertantly killed by Ben in self-defense.
  • Garden of Evil: Where Ben meets with Snoke. Although very beautiful, it seems the plants inside are largely carnivorous and the bones of the original landscapers form a layer just under the topsoil.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Hennix is Killed Offscreen via a thrown lightsaber, even though his corpse is shown afterward.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: The narrative makes it clear that Ben probably wouldn't have fallen had Luke not been incapacitated at the time, given his threat to Ren, Snoke, and Palpatine if he knew that he was Back from the Dead.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Snoke encourages Ben's fall, but isn't an active participant in it beyond goading him in a few places. Palpatine is the same.
  • Heinousness Retcon: In previous installments, including The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, it's stated that the night Kylo Ren fell to the Dark Side, he killed most of Luke Skywalker's other apprentices and left with the others, torching the Jedi Temple in the process. This comic prequel establishes that Kylo unintentionally kinda maybe burnt down the temple note  and accidentally killed the students save for three; out of these apprentices he only murders one directly (one he killed accidentally in self-defense, the other was murdered by somebody else).
  • I Am the Noun: After Ren kills Tai, Ren accuses Ben of not wanting to live in the "Shadow". Ben tells him "I am the Shadow."
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Tai attempts this on Ben and it almost works. Unfortunately, Ren snaps Tai's neck using the Force before he can continue.
  • Ironic Echo: Ren is always commenting on giving others a "good death." In issue #4, Ben kills Ren, telling Ren his is a "good death".
  • Killed Off for Real: Occurs to several characters throughout the story.
    • Hennix dies from a thrown lightsaber.
    • Tai dies from a Neck Snap by Ren.
    • Ren and Voe are both impaled with a lightsaber by Ben.
  • Klingon Promotion: Ben kills Ren, upon which the Knights of Ren accept him as their new Master.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: After Luke beats the Knights of Ren, Ren knows they can't win and activates a kill switch on his lightsaber. He comments that if Luke takes the blade, it will explode and kill them all. Luke allows Ren and his Knights to escape.
  • Large Ham: Snoke greets Ben with a ridiculously dramatic entrance, is shown Milking the Giant Cow when discussing his past, and has some seriously weird facial expressions.
  • Man-Eating Plant: While Snoke is showing Ben around the space station, he notes that the giant greenhouse was a futile attempt to create a nexus of the light side in a dark side-influenced area. He then opens up a plant to reveal a skeleton inside, implying that the dark side influenced the plants and led them to turn on the station's creators.
  • Metaphorically True: Snoke tells Ben he was "not born Snoke"; he "became Snoke". With the revelation that Palpatine created Snoke in the first place, this is partially true.
  • Mercy Kill: Ben sees his murder of Voe as this, noting that she'd be lost without a Jedi instructor anyways.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Snoke comments to Ben he was named after legends. Specifically, Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi and his father Han Solo. Ben comments he hates his name.
  • Neck Snap: Ren kills Tai this way after Ben refuses to kill his fellow student.
  • Noodle Incident: Upon seeing Snoke, Ben comments "Look what Master Skywalker did to you." We don't know what it is that Luke did to Snoke, but from the sound of things, he physically appeared to be better-looking than he once did.
  • Pet the Dog: As shown in this comic, for all the ruthlessness Ren will eventually gain, at his early stages of falling to the Dark Side, and despite looking down on the other students deep in his mind and heart, he still cared for them and was horrified when he accidentally destroyed the temple. He also refuses to kill the three survivors, even despite warning them he would take aggressive actions against them, holding back constantly despite having the power to kill them. He even couldn't bring himself to kill Tai in the end and is genuinely moved by Tai's undying friendship to him, actually giving off the Hope Spot that he would have turned back to the light, but unfortunately due to Foregone Conclusion, he couldn't take it as Tai was killed by Ren... Though afterwards he fights and kills Ren out of a genuine desire to avenge his friend's death.
  • Prequel: It's set several years before The Force Awakens and covers several time periods. One is set shortly after the destruction of Luke's Jedi school and another earlier one showing Ben and Luke's first encounter with the Knights of Ren.
  • Poor Communication Kills: At least some of the tragedy could have been avoided if Luke and Ben talked things out. The rest of it could have been avoided had the other students checked to see if Luke was still alive.
  • Portal Statue Pairs: Luke Skywalker, Ben Solo, and Lor San Tekka visit a Jedi outpost on Elphrona. The comic depicts it as looking much like the temple at Petra in Jordan, except that there were two giant Jedi statues on either side of the entrance.
  • Psychic Link: Leia and Rey feel Ben's fall to the dark side through their bonds with him.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Luke effortlessly defeats the Knights of Ren using his lightsaber and the Force. He comments while they've tapped into the dark side, they aren't properly trained in using it and use it "like a hammer". In The Rise of Skywalker when Ben faces off against the Knights, he also defeats them for the same reason. Despite their superior numbers, their lack of training and weapons shows that they're still no match for a fully trained Force user.
  • Reclaimed by Nature: The space station Snoke resides on has a giant dark side-influenced plant breaking out of the greenhouse and taking over the exterior, somehow surviving in the vacuum of space.
  • The Resenter: Ben in his early years is shown to be one. Even though he respects Luke as a teacher, he wishes Luke would actually let him do something. Snoke continues to incite his resentment.
  • Revision: In The Last Jedi, Luke states that, based on his understanding, a handful of students left with Ben after he slaughtered the rest — with the audience left to presume that these other students became the Knights of Ren. However, in the comic flips things on its head: there were only three students that left, and they did so because they were chasing after Ben, and did so to try to convince him not to fall further on his dark path rather than to join forces with him. It's also established that the Knights of Ren are an unconnected group of marauding Dark Side adepts whose order predates Ben's turn as Kylo Ren, and that he joined their ranks and became their leader after his Face–Heel Turn. The biggest surprise is the strong implication that Ben wasn't the cause of the burning of the Jedi Temple and the deaths of a bunch of his fellow students, which everyone had previously presumed.
  • The Rival: Voe, another Padawan, views Ben as her rival. The feeling is not mutual, also making her The Lancer to Ben.
  • Series Continuity Error: A reference book, Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know, Updated and Expanded, states that the Knights of Ren took part in the destruction of Luke's temple, but in the comic they aren't even aware of it until after the fact. It could be considered Metaphorically True if you presume that this is Ben Solo's Start of Darkness as Kylo Ren.
  • Shout-Out: Issue #4 takes place on a moon of Mimban where the Knights of Ren are after something called the Mindsplinter.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Ren talks big, but his Knights are little more than looters and thugs who can't even touch Luke and Ben with superior numbers.
  • Smug Super: Ren is extremely proud of his ability to "touch the Shadow". He only accepts Force-sensitives into his ranks after they've killed a non-sensitive.
  • Start of Darkness: The series tells the story of how and why Ben Solo fell to the dark side in more detail than previously released works.
  • Student–Master Team: The cover of the second issue depicts Ben and Luke facing off against the Knights of Ren.
  • Telepathy:
    • Snoke communicates with Ben this way.
    • After Ben finds Ren's discarded helmet and puts it on, Ben and Ren communicate this way.
    • In issue #4, Ben uses his Mind Probe ability for the first time to interrogate a Mimban miner. He calls it a variation of the Jedi mind trick and was taught to use it from Snoke.
  • That Man Is Dead: Voe and Tai believe Ben is "lost" after killing Hennix.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil:
    • The other Padawans, Voe, Hennix and Tai, call Ben a murderer. Ben accepts their accusations and Force pushes Voe down in mid leap sending her to her death. Subverted when Ben immediately tries to save her by catching her with the Force.
    • Voe is shocked when Ben kills Ren, upon which he repeats her accusation of him being a murderer, then stabs her with Ren's lightsaber, killing her.
  • Villainous Friendship: While not exactly friends, Ren trusts Snoke when Snoke vouches for Ben to join the Knights of Ren.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Ren is never seen wearing a shirt.
  • We Can Rule Together: On Elphrona, Ren offers Ben a variation of this. Ren senses the dark side in Ben and offers him a chance to come with them to learn more. Years later, Ben does so.
  • The X of Y: The Rise of Kylo Ren.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: After Ben kills Ren, Ben becomes the new leader of the Knights of Ren.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: At the end of issue #2, Voe, Hennix and Tai confront Ben on Elphrona to prevent him from leaving.