– Spoiler Review –
The titular Jedi of Obi-Wan & Anakin not only bring a tentative peace to the planet of Carnelion IV in the series’ finale issue but we see just how far the Master is willing to follow the Padawan no matter his decision to leave the Jedi Order or not. Issue #5 wonderfully closes several hanging threads, brings an end to this entertaining character study of a series, and makes one wish there was more. If you’ve not been reading Obi-Wan & Anakin, correct that mistake as soon as you can!
The idea that Anakin was ready to leave the Jedi Order at such an early point in his career seemed as far out of left field as him having a Padawan in the Clone Wars initially felt. But the Obi-Wan & Anakin series has handled the plot thread very well, making such a decision by Anakin feel rather natural and not so unexpected, since he’s not been traditionally trained like the other Jedi and his life as a slave pushes his desire to see justice happen sooner rather than later since he knows firsthand injustices happen everyday. In #4, Anakin tells Obi-Wan part of his reasoning for wanting to leave the Order is because others have always decided his fate for him and making such a decision gives him agency for once (and is partly the reason why Obi-Wan doesn’t try to fight such an endeavor). In #5, Anakin gets to keep his newfound agency simply by making the choice to leave or stay, as Obi-Wan doesn’t tell him he needs to stay but instead shows him how making the choice to stay might help him save the galaxy even if it means waiting. While obviously not a shock Anakin would end this series coming back to the Order, the moment he does, while asking Obi-Wan to show him the way, certainly could be added to all the things running through Obi-Wan’s head as he stands over his ‘brother’s’ nearly limbless body on the lava shores of Mustafar. Throughout the series you want to root for these two to come back together, but once they do, the painful realization of what’s yet to come rears its ugly head and suddenly you want to go back and hope Anakin doesn’t decide to return.
As I had been guessing in my last two reviews, issue #5 reveals Obi-Wan is actually willing to leave the Jedi Order if Anakin does to ensure the boy isn’t consumed by the dark side and his vow to Qui-Gon isn’t broken. In the issue’s final moments, we get a flashback to Obi-Wan and Yoda in the Temple, where Obi-Wan brings Anakin’s wish to leave the Order to Yoda’s attention. Both of these Masters understand Anakin’s possible importance, even if Obi-Wan only sees it because his Master wanted him to, but it’s surprising and interesting to see Yoda willing to let Anakin go if that was the path he was meant to take; In a previous review, I said the Jedi were betting on Anakin’s Chosen One status to prove fruitful, but I didn’t think they’d be willing to go this far to see it happen. As for Obi-Wan being so willing to leave the Order to train Anakin, that doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise, considering we know he’s come close before (like as we learned in The Clone Wars, he would’ve left the Order to be with Satine if she had just said the word), but the potential outcomes of such an action for both Anakin and Obi-Wan are staggering. Imagine the state of the galaxy had Obi-Wan and Anakin gone on to train in the Force, unrestricted by such archaic rules as zero attachments/relationships, and both been allowed to openly be with the ones they loved i.e. Satine and Padme, respectively! The saga as we knew it would be altered forever and it probably could’ve been a change for the better, as ironically keeping Anakin part of the Order is what helps lead to his downfall in the first place.
But with Palpatine’s excellent hooks sunk into Anakin and his desire to help the galaxy now instead of later, how exactly does Obi-Wan bring his Padawan back to the Order? While Palpatine manipulates Anakin’s desire to change the galaxy by giving him a look at how easy and effective it can be done clandestinely on one’s own, Obi-Wan continues to give Anakin the choice to stay or go but shows how effective the Jedi can be as a whole to change the galaxy for the better. The juxtaposition between Palpatine and Obi-Wan’s tactics for Anakin’s allegiance is one of my favorite parts of #5 and the series as a whole, as the Palpatine flashbacks were top-notch in each issue and I almost found it hard to believe Obi-Wan would be able to find something to convince Anakin to stay. But he does: Obi-Wan ignores both the giant all-out battle between Open and Closed outside Sera’s headquarters, as well as Sera’s hopes he’ll kill everyone, to find a third, peaceful option. He has Anakin fix the communications relay Sera used to send the distress signal, just before it broke, to bring the Republic Fleet (never mind it never being explained how they got there so quickly) to the planet. While he tricks them into coming urgently because the war between the natives threatens a made up Tibanna gas (which basically powers everything from blasters to starships in the GFFA) depository, the message is very clear to Anakin: go out on your own and you might not be able to solve all the problems, as evident in their inability to tackle Carnelion IV’s factions without help, but stay with the Jedi and you have the ability to be part of something bigger and help on a grander and more effective scale. It was a really cool moment and is an excellent culmination to everything Obi-Wan has done throughout the present-set parts of the story to give Anakin reasons to stay with the Order. While the Palpatine flashbacks were a big part of the series, Obi-Wan’s actions in the present are bigger and become a more obvious and important counterweight to the Sith’s actions once #5 wraps all his work up.
I found that Obi-Wan’s solution to the Open and Closed problem seemed to be a call-back to a lesson he tries teaching Anakin in issue #2. As the two Jedi, Mother Pran, Kolara, and Grecker are beset on all sides by corpse-leeches, Obi-Wan urges Anakin to spare them because, “These beasts are nearly mindless, Anakin. I can feel it. They are merely following their nature. They should not die simply because they crossed our path. Use the Force to send them on their way.” The lesson matches up with his solution in several ways: The description about nearly mindless beasts can be applied to both the Open and Closed (adults, at least), as they are simply following their nature to fight without any care as to why or any attempts to stop; Obi-Wan insists on not killing the warring factions simply because they crossed the Jedi’s paths, much to Sera’s chagrin since she mistakenly believes they would from watching a video about a Sith; calling in the Republic fleet isn’t using the Force to send the Open and Closed on their way, but it’s a different type of force i.e. military might, which works to bring the fighting to an end for now because these primitives have never seen such giant machines or “Skygifts” before.
With #5’s well-wrapped up and thoroughly insightful ending of Obi-Wan & Anakin, Charles Soule can safely add another notch to his belt for an impressive, character-driven mini-series (though I might like Lando better still). Throughout the series he makes it abundantly clear just how well he understands the characters, especially Palpatine, while keeping them front and center and not getting them bogged down by a plot too big for the issue count (Princess Leia series) or not deep enough to be anything but mostly fluff (Chewbacca series). If you’ve enjoyed TCW, Obi-Wan and Anakin’s interactions in the prequels, and/or want more of both, this series nails their friendship and growing connection at such an early stage of their time together, while entertainingly reveals how Palpatine’s web of deceit slowly starts to weave its place in-between them.
Along with Soule’s excellent story, Marco Checchetto (artist) and Andres Mossa (colors) have given credible, but sometimes foggy life, to the steampunk-ish, war-torn nature of Carnelion IV and its inhabitants throughout the series. And in flashbacks, their work highlights not only the seedy depths Palpatine takes Anakin, but also the stoic and reserved heights of the Jedi Temple through lighting and a general lack of grime. It’s that grime that I sometimes felt like was too much on Carnelion IV, hiding and confusing some of the action in certain panels, but all in all they did a wonderful job for the story and the specific atmosphere it was trying to project.
Here are a few other things:
- I like how Obi-Wan & Anakin in a way has addressed two very different moments in The Phantom Menace: we get to see Palpatine follow up on his promise to watch Anakin’s career with great interest as he takes an early chance to snag his prize while Obi-Wan’s vow to his fallen Master Qui-Gon Jinn about training Anakin gets tested to its extreme. The first four issues largely covered Palpatine’s attempts on luring Anakin over before the Jedi ways become more ingrained in him, while the series as a whole has been teasing the lengths Obi-Wan would go to fulfill Qui-Gon’s dying wish.
- As I hoped, Kolara sways the other younger Closed like herself to see past the mindless bloodthirsty desires of their elders, but not without a little help from Anakin as he gets the other kids all to reveal they’ve all taken gifts from Sera. Also, it was really weird and really neat to hear Kolara essentially describe art but not completely understand the concept/even know it had a name.
- In #4, the figure seen in Sera’s hologram has a mask eerily similar to Revan’s, but in #5 the “Jedi screen’s” image supposedly shows a Sith since the person’s lightsaber was red. I wonder if the Sith or Jedi were ever part of the war that led to Carnelion IV’s destruction or if both of the images Sera shows are simply footage of lightsaber wielders on different planets.
- Grecker still barely being alive was surprising and his death was both welcomed and sort of funny.
- There’s a lot left unanswered about Carnelion IV, though it never really was the important part of the story: 1) We don’t know if the Open and Closed finally come to peace, as they’ll wait out the Republic Fleet’s presence and either continue on peacefully to rebuild or go back at it. 2) Why and where exactly did all those creatures, like the dragon-like things and the corpse-leeches come from and might the Republic fight them back or the Open and Closed unite to take them out? 3) No explanation was given for who or what started the war that led the Open and Closed down their paths, besides the ones the two factions so vaguely gave us.
- Always thought our projectile weapons would be useless against a Jedi and their lightsaber? One panel proves they might be more trouble for the Jedi and Sith than a lazer bolt, as multiple projectiles could sneak past the blade and still injure its wielder, as poor Obi-Wan finds out about the hard way.
- The Manor’s other writer Chris has complied his thoughts on the Obi-Wan & Anakin series as a whole in his latest review.
Obi-Wan & Anakin #5 is not only a fitting send-off to the characters and this era of their lives, but also of the fantastic series as a whole.
+ Obi-Wan’s Jedi way to solving the problems of Carnelion IV
+ Anakin keeps his agency
+ Adding even more emotional baggage to their confrontation on Mustafar
Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth. You can follow the website @MynockManor.
CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
Obi-Wan & Anakin
#1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | Full Series (#1-5) Review by Chris
The Last Padawan (#1-6) | First Blood (#7-12)
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6) | The Gathering Storm (#7-10)
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)
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)
Princess Leia (mini-series)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (mini-series)