Canon Comic Review: Obi-Wan & Anakin #1

Obi-Wan and Anakin #1

Spoiler Review –

Out of all the comics so far released, I haven’t really anticipated any of them, but certainly enjoyed most, if not all of them. Obi-Wan & Anakin is the first one I’ve been eagerly awaiting and issue #1 sets up many things which could promise to make it more than I ever hoped for: Master and Padawan visit what basically amounts to a Mad Max planet in the Star Wars universe and there’s a slight twist to Anakin’s training, two things I can’t wait to see explored before the miniseries comes to a close.

Charles Soule (Lando) proved in a couple interviews earlier this year that he had a firm grasp on Obi-Wan and Anakin’s relationship, but it’s this paraphrased quote below that made me realize Soule could give us something special:

I think, you know, it wasn’t one bad decision that Obi-Wan or Anakin could point to as a failure. It was probably an accumulation of decisions that maybe, over time, added up to a larger failure…I think maybe it’s Obi-Wan saying he didn’t understand the scope of the influence and malevolence that was going to be aimed at Anakin from Palpatine, and he didn’t really prepare him for it.

Obi-Wan & Anakin #1 shows Soule’s practically uncanny understanding of the two title characters at such an unexplored time in their relationship, while it adds in the beginnings of Palpatine’s more hands-on approach to manipulating Anakin. As strong and interesting as those two aspects are, it’s Anakin’s surprising decision that he wants to leave the Jedi Order which makes me look forward to this series more than anything else. Naturally the question becomes why, but I definitely want to know: who? Palpatine is shown in flashbacks watching Anakin’s training at the Jedi Temple, becoming impressed by his initiative to hack a training droid (to become Maul), and pulls rank on Mace Windu to allow him one-on-one time with Anakin. What seeds does he plant in Anakin at such an early age as to get him to want to leave the Jedi Order?

It’s easy to point the finger at Palpatine, but it’s also possible the decision to leave is a choice Anakin has made on his own, considering he expresses his disbelief at how the Jedi Order and the Senate operate in this issue, and eventually (in a bit of a twist) it could be Palpatine who maneuvers Anakin back into Jedi training so he can continue to watch over him closely. Either way, Anakin making this decision is pretty big, considering this is only 3-4 years after The Phantom Menace, where he was so clearly eager to become a Jedi in the hopes he could help those in need and maybe free some slaves along the way. I can imagine Anakin learning he’s unable to free the slaves at will as he would’ve liked to do, as well as his connections to his mother and fear of never seeing her again, would certainly bring a damper on his desire to continue training. All that theorizing has me dreaming up a crazy world where Anakin leaves the Order and strikes out on his own (with some guidance by Obi-Wan still), helping those in need, as his Padawan Ahsoka Tano did, and I’m wondering how different the saga would’ve been had that happened.

But a decision like this by Anakin doesn’t just affect himself, it has repercussions for his Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. While Obi-Wan sounds supportive when telling Anakin he wants to keep the young Padawan alive even if he wants to leave, Qui-Gon’s dying wishes, and his promise to fulfill them, must hang over Ob-Wan heavily. At the end of The Phantom Menace, he so desperately wanted to teach Anakin to uphold his promise to Qui-Gon, he was willing to defy the council despite being such an upstanding Jedi. Does Obi-Wan take it personally that Anakin wants out? Does he feel like a failure to Qui-Gon yet or is he still holding out hope he can bring Anakin back? Seeing how his reaction unfolds is equally compelling to this series (and not just because he’s my favorite character).

As curious and captivating as Obi-Wan and Anakin’s dilemmas are to this series, the planet and setting have unmistakable story potential. The two Jedi, responding to a suspicious distress call, crash land on the foggy, snowy, and seemingly inhospitable Carnelion IV, an apocalyptic planet where the population effectively wiped itself out of existence. But, like any good story set in an apocalyptic environment, there are those who continue living: Carnelion IV’s inhabitants take inspiration from Mad Max, riding around in repurposed airships, sporting tribal-like tattoos, archaic weapons (like sawed-off shotguns, not even kidding!), and a you’re either with us or against us attitude. Star Wars meets Mad Max isn’t anything I really knew I wanted to see, but now I’m eager to learn more about this society and world.

In my 2015 Star Wars Comics Year-in-Review, one of my biggest hopes was that Marvel would continue its exceptional work at opening up the galaxy by giving women more roles in the GFFA. By the end of Obi-Wan & Anakin #1, they do just that with the introduction of Kolara and Mother Pran, owners of an airship the Jedi rescue from a battle raging overhead. Pran asks the odd question, with the threat of death without an answer, “Are you open or closed?” and she gets an answer neither her nor Kolara were expecting: Jedi. In fact, the two of them don’t even know what a Jedi is, telling you just how out of touch the planet and its surviving inhabitants have been since they (mostly) wiped themselves out. Could helping them understand what a Jedi is bring Anakin back to the Order or only serve to push him away from it more? I can’t wait to see how all the above plays out over the next few issues!

Here are a few other things:

  • Marco Checchetto (Shattered Empire) on art duties and Andres Mossa on colors capture Carnelion IV’s dreary and eerie atmosphere well, but my favorite moment has to be the face Mace Windu makes when Palpatine pulls rank to get more access to Anakin.
  • Both this series and Kanan have featured other Padawans who seem decidedly un-Jedi like by teasing the main character for being different. The more I see Padawans like that, the more it adds to the list of reasons why the Jedi Order was doomed to fall at some point anyways.

Obi-Wan and Anakin #1 sets up some existential questions and immediate problems for the Master and apprentice duo to conquer (and for readers to eagerly await resolutions to) with the promise of more unexpected and exciting things to come.

+ Anakin’s and Obi-Wan’s dilemmas

+ Mad Max-like planet

+ Obi-Wan and Anakin’s relationship handled well

Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth. You can follow the website @MynockManor.

Obi-Wan & Anakin
#2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | Full Series (#1-5) Review by Chris
The Last Padawan (#1-6) | First Blood (#7-12)
Doctor Aphra
Aphra (#1-6)
Poe Dameron
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6) | The Gathering Storm (#7-10)
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Vader (#1-6) | Shadows and Secrets (#7-12) | The Shu-Torun War (Arc Review by Chris) (#16-19) | End of Games (#20-25) | Annual: #1
Vader Down (crossover of Star Wars and Darth Vader on-goings)
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Skywalker Strikes (#1-6) | Old Ben’s Journals | Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon (#8-12) | Rebel Jail (#16-19) |  The Last Flight of the Harbinger (#21-25) | Yoda’s Secret War (#26-30)
Annual: #1 | #2
Han Solo (mini-series)
Shattered Empire (mini-series)
Lando (mini-series)
Chewbacca (mini-series)
Princess Leia (mini-series)
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One-Shots: C-3PO