Canon Comic Review: Obi-Wan & Anakin #4

Obi-Wan and Anakin #4

Spoiler Review –

Obi-Wan & Anakin issue #4, written by Charles Soule, art by Marcho Checchetto and colors by Andres Mossa, provides some much needed answers on the mystery of the Open and Closed of Carnelion IV, but it opens new ones at the same time. There are a few other reveals, including (definitively) why Anakin wants to leave the Jedi Order and who sent the distress signal, while the flashbacks between Anakin and Palpatine continue to steal the show. As has been the case in these first four issues, this is a series well worth a read, especially for fans itching for more Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Palpatine drama.

History is written by victors, both in the real and fictional worlds. But the losers can be a stubborn bunch, attempting to bring their side of the conflict to light, erasing the truth or falsities of the victors. The Jedi and the Republic did their best to squash any knowledge of the Sith and other adversaries, to the point they almost forgot about them themselves. The Rebellion worked on overthrowing the oppression and lies of the Empire, bringing back another Republic and the Jedi. The First Order wants to rip the New Republic off the face of the galaxy to honor the fallen Empire. In the case of Carnelion IV, both the Open and Closed are victors in a sense, as their war with one another so many years ago is what brought the death and destruction of their planet. But however they went about ‘winning’ that war, and for whatever reasons, it’s so terrible that they are hell-bent on erasing any hint of what really occurred, partly to ensure future generations don’t learn the truth and rebel against them. It’s not clear what Open and Closed necessarily mean just yet in the grand scheme of things, but they’re are more or less just two sides of the same coin.

However, it’s been clear for a while that both sides are in on some type of secret, as seen when they so quickly put aside their differences after Obi-Wan and Anakin mentioned the distress signal which brought them to the planet, and it’s directly related to the signal and those kite care packages. The source of the signal is a lone gentleman gentlewoman named Sera, who functions as the ‘loser’ here as she attempts to preserve the memories of the past the two winners are so hell-bent on erasing. Both the Open and Closed know of her, but have been unable to find her until now, as the Jedi lead them straight to her due to following the distress signal. Sera enlightens both the reader and Obi-Wan on the way of the world–how the Open and Closed are looking to erase the past–and also reveals she’s the one behind the kites of precious trinkets being let loose on the skies above. She says she does it with the wish someone who gets their hands on the valuables lost due to the war will appreciate what they represent: hope. Kolara reveals to Anakin in #3 that she has saved one of the items Sera sent up and in #4 she isn’t too happy with Pran blowing up the airship after they kidnap Anakin, meaning if there’s anyone who can start to lean the new generation into realizing there’s more to life than war i.e. hope, it’ll be Kolara (with a little extra push by Anakin, I assume).

Anakin’s reason for leaving the order is revealed in #4, and it’s mostly what I guessed in my review of #3: Anakin doesn’t have the patience to learn about the Force from the Jedi mainly because he feels a pull to help the galaxy seemingly right this instant. Palpatine seems to consider Anakin’s impatience as an opportunity, which is why he takes Anakin out to the Coruscant underworld and shows him a way to take action now to help the galaxy instead of waiting to do so later. In what Soule calls his favorite Palpatine moment (I would maybe call it my second in the series), in #4 the Chancellor basically offers Anakin a job by making Anakin offer it to himself. His ability to get others to say what he wants them to is the true beauty of Palpatine’s scheming and the best way he goes about doing so is telling people the truth…from a certain point of view: He doesn’t necessarily lie to Anakin, as he tells Anakin he wishes someone (i.e. himself) who wasn’t a Jedi or the Senate could go about ridding the galaxy of the corrupt. And in one of his boldest moves yet, he flat out asks Anakin if he’s happy at the Jedi Temple, to which Anakin begins responding to with a wholeheartedly defense about his time there but slowly trails off, leaving Palpatine with the perfect opportunity to push Anakin to consider a spot at his side (!)…after his training his complete.

ObiWanAnakin4In the issue’s very next scene, Anakin is offering his resignation to Obi-Wan, where he basically tells his Master he doesn’t want to wait to reach his full potential as he knows there’s more than just the Jedi out there who can teach him what he still has to learn. It’s interesting to note he talks about the galaxy calling to him, something which is reflected in Ep. II and III, where he’s constantly mentioning he knows he can better or he should be something more. It seems whatever happens in #5 will cause him to rethink rushing off to do his own thing and to reject Palpatine’s ‘offer,’ forcing the Sith to play a longer con on Anakin. If I had to guess, it’ll be due to how his actions and lack of training allowed him to be duped by Pran and the Open, allowing them to start a war. Nothing makes you realize the slow and easy path might be better than having been the indirect cause of death and destruction (even if his later choices lead to exactly that).

When Anakin brings up how his life has basically always been decided for him, Obi-Wan initially is more concerned about the simple fact of his Padawan leaving the Order (and nullifying his promise to Qui-Gon) until he realizes the truth in what Anakin’s saying. By choosing this path—or any for that matter—he’s finally taking control of (and having agency over) his destiny and if Obi-Wan is to believe he is the chosen one, who is Obi-Wan to get in Anakin’s way from fulfilling that role? When he told Grecker in #3 that it would be complicated if Anakin left, I theorized that meant Obi-Wan would be looking for ways to protect Anakin even if he did leave, and Obi-Wan’s acceptance of Anakin’s decision at the Temple seems to back that theory up: He’s going to uphold his promise to Qui-Gon, no matter the circumstances. If only Obi-Wan had been able to openly show Anakin he cares for him enough to follow him down whatever path he chooses, their fates would’ve ultimately been more different than any of us can imagine.

Throughout the issue, the Obi-Wan here feels a lot like Ewan McGregor/James Arnold Taylor’s from the prequels/The Clone Wars, springing traps he knows have been set for him and quipping about events in his typical humor. His calm under pressure is also evident here, as he faces down not one, not two, but three giant dragon-like lizards native to Carnelion IV and still boldly claim he has everything handled. I have two moments from Obi-Wan & Anakin #4 that are my favorite for the Master Jedi: 1) Obi-Wan makes an astute observation regarding the Open and Closed’s debate over who started the war, as he and Grecker stare upon the wreckage of the past, by simply asking, “Does it matter?” 2) Grecker calls Anakin a child, but Obi-Wan says, “No. Not really.” If ever there were words of respect about Anakin’s skills and abilities from his Master, this is one of them that isn’t done in a sarcastically non-sarcastic tone for once, which means it’s too bad Anakin isn’t around to hear it.

The issue ends with Grecker dead by Sera’s hands and the both she and Obi-Wan waiting for Anakin and the Open to come to them. Anakin is left at one of the Open’s secret mountain bases, where the device he fixed in #3 has brought to life a whole fleet of giant mechs the Open hope to win the war i.e. kill the Closed and erase Sera’s memories of their past off the face of their dying world. As usual, Obi-Wan isn’t breaking a sweat yet as he has full confidence Anakin will help them through the ordeal, and I can’t wait to hear Obi-Wan’s joke to Anakin in regards to how long it took him to do so.

With all the revelations that come in #4, I ended the issue feeling unsure if one more issue could do the rest of the story justice. But if there’s one thing Soule’s work on Lando taught me: I should trust him to do it all justice by the end. And on the art side, Checchetto and Mossa’s work has truly given this series an appropriately different and steam-punk-ish feel that has helped make the events on Carnelion IV not seem too out of place. This goes doubly for the mechs, which look like something straight out of the Metal Gear Solid video game series, but feel at home here in Obi-Wan & Anakin‘s stylized Star Wars world.

Here are a few other things:

  • The cover for #4 (which you can see above in full) is probably one of my favorite since the comics started in 2015. It makes me kind of wish this series will end with a few panels of a scene between Darth Vader and Palpatine, possibly discussing something that gave Vader a flashback to the events of the series.
  • UPDATE: 5/25/16: I erroneously identified Sera as a male and this review has since been updated.

Obi-Wan & Anakin #4 continues keeping the mystery of the planet interesting and entertaining, the titular characters’ relationship stays front and center, and the Palpatine/Anakin flashbacks a revelation in of themselves. It’ll be sad to see this series come to a close next month.

+ Layers peeled back about the mystery of the planet

+ Palpatine’s bold moves help with Anakin’s reason to leave the Jedi Order

+ Obi-Wan in true form this issue

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