What happens when two Jedi are stranded on a war torn world? Find out here…
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Obi-Wan and Anakin #1.
Obi-Wan & Anakin #1
Writer: Charles Soule | Artist/Cover: Marco Checchetto | Colors: Andres Mossa | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
With the new year comes a new Marvel Star Wars comic series. This new series takes place several years after The Phantom Menace, which makes it the first Marvel series to explore that time period. Fulfilling his promise to Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi has been training Anakin Skywalker as his Padawan. This issue opens with master and student having been sent to Carnelion IV to respond to a distress signal from an unknown sender. Their arrival is not an easy one as the debris field that surrounds the planet forces the pair to abandon their ship in escape pods. After arriving on the planet, Obi-Wan shows Anakin what has become of Carnelion IV: it is a world that has been ravaged by war and the population has destroyed itself. The duo quickly become involved in a conflict without truly understanding what is going on.
There is a bit of political backstory relayed by Obi-Wan in the beginning of this book. He explains to Anakin why the Republic was powerless to intervene on Carnelion IV. First, the planet and its people were not part of the Republic. Second, the Jedi could not intervene because they were under the direction of the Senate. Furthermore, even if the Jedi were not under the jurisdiction of the Senate, the Jedi were not meant to be an army. As the prequel trilogy frequently pointed out, the Jedi were peacekeepers, not soldiers. The Jedi could only have hoped to guide Carnelion IV. They couldn’t have prevented the population from destroying itself if that was what it was intent on doing.
This discussion provides a lot of great background to the prequel films. There are early signs of Anakin’s frustration with not just the Jedi Order but the Republic as a whole. When Anakin was a boy at the time of The Phantom Menace, it was obvious that he was sensitive to injustice. He came to the aid of Jar Jar when he was threatened by Sebulba. He ached to do something about the slave situation on Tatooine. He couldn’t resist getting involved in Queen Amidala’s plight to save Naboo. Now, he is frustrated that the Jedi, who he grew up idolizing, were powerless to stop the death of a world. These frustrations boil over into the events of Attack of the Clones. He will tell Padmé that he does not think the system works. He knows because he has seen first-hand, as evidenced by this issue, that to be the case.
There is a subplot to this series that is introduced and then left wide open. Surprisingly, Anakin has expressed a wish to leave the Jedi Order. Apparently, after making his wish known to Obi-Wan, Anakin handed his lightsaber over to his master. It is unclear when this resignation was made known, but it would seem it had to be after Obi-Wan and Anakin departed for Carnelion IV. As they appear to be stranded on the planet, for now, Obi-Wan returns Anakin’s lightsaber to him. Obi-Wan believes he’ll need it if they are to survive their adventure. What prompted Anakin to request a departure from the Jedi Order is not exactly clear, but the series does provide some clues. The timing is interesting for certain. At this point in his life, Anakin is not married to Padmé. They aren’t expecting a child. He is not engaged in a forbidden relationship and faced with the prospect of choosing between that relationship and the Jedi. If it weren’t for his marriage to Padmé and his belief she would die in childbirth, it is entirely conceivable that he would have left the Jedi Order for his family. However, it was the lure of the power of the Jedi Masters and the promise of the power of the dark side over death that kept him around. Other than dissatisfaction with the order at the time of this comic, there isn’t an apparent reason that would compel him to leave the Jedi.
The aforementioned clues come in the form of a flashback to a time before at the Jedi temple on Coruscant. Anakin is sparring with a training droid while surrounded by his fellow padawans. Mace Windu, Obi-Wan and the Chancellor look on from a balcony above. Anakin has modified the training droid so that it takes on the appearance of Darth Maul and wields a double-bladed lightsaber. He then defeats the droid. This bit of Anakin’s fantasy and wish fulfillment provokes some very un-Jedi-like reactions from his fellow padawans. “Just a slave to his emotions,” they call him in an attempt to dismiss and diminish his skills and accomplishment. This scene reveals two things: 1) Anakin is not well liked by his contemporaries, and 2) Jedi children and teenagers aren’t so different from teenagers in our own world. They have their own petty jealousies, and Jedi training doesn’t remove that. This isn’t the first time Marvel has demonstrated this type of behavior. Caleb Dume’s classmates exhibited similar behavior in recent issues of the Kanan comic.
Conversely, Anakin’s conduct impresses Chancellor Palpatine. In fact, the chancellor was so impressed that he insisted on mentoring the young Jedi. Mace Windu objected, and in retrospect wisely objected, to this request from the chancellor was relented after being reminded by the chancellor that the Jedi served the senate. This bit of world building is not surprising. It is not new that the Jedi serve the Republic at the direction of the senate. However, the chancellor has gone beyond a commander-in-chief role to using his power to micromanage the Jedi and issue an order regarding the training of a single Jedi. And the Jedi relented despite Master Windu’s protests that the Jedi manage their own affairs. Given this, is it any wonder that Palpatine managed to guide the Jedi to their doom so easily?
This series benefits from the involvement of creators that have previous experience in Marvel’s Star Wars comics. Charles Soule previously wrote the Lando miniseries. Marco Checchetto provided the art for Shattered Empire, one of the best Star Wars series to date with some of the best art in any Star Wars series that Marvel has produced. Admittedly, I was not the biggest fan of Soule’s Lando story, and I acknowledge that I am in the minority of that opinion. Despite that, this story is very captivating. Soule has woven in a fair amount of intrigue and mystery. Like many of the comic series that Marvel has produced, this issue ends with a question.
Checchetto’s art impresses here nearly as much, if not just as much, as it did in Shattered Empire. Anakin and Obi-Wan look fantastic. Mace Windu, Chancellor Palpatine, and the other characters are all first rate illustrations. Anakin’s duel with the sparring droid is clearly–and beautifully–illustrated. This series introduces a new twist to Star Wars: a steampunk vibe. It is unclear whether the people found on Carnelion IV were the native population or somebody else that moved to this world. Whoever they are, they are engaged in a battle that employs air ships that look like they are straight out of a steampunk comic. They look good. I’ve selected one of the panels featuring these ships as this week’s favorite panel.
(Editor’s note: To me, these look straight out of the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs–a huge influence on Lucas! -JT)
Dennis Keithly is a graduate of the University of Missouri, North Texas attorney, husband, father of two, and co-host of Starships, Sabers, and Scoundrels. In addition to Star Wars, Dennis is a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and super heroes in general. When not engaged in fictional universes, Dennis is reading a good book or watching the NHL, football, or studying the NFL draft.