Ben Solo’s past as Luke Skywalker’s apprentice collides with his present as he searches for the Knights of Ren in The Rise of Kylo Ren #2.
Warning: This article contains plot points for The Rise of Kylo Ren #2.
The Rise of Kylo Ren #2
Writer: Charles Soule | Artist: Will Sliney | Colorist: Guru-eFX | Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham | Cover Artist: Clayton Crain | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia
The Rise of Kylo Ren #2 continues the dramatic history of Ben Solo’s flight from the light side of the Force towards the dark side and the mantle of leader of the Knights of Ren. The story commenced in The Rise of Kylo Ren #1 with Ben’s escape from the Jedi temple after the unfortunate confrontation with Luke seen in The Last Jedi. Now, in the follow up issue, Ben seeks additional guidance from Snoke about his future. Along the way, the role of legends becomes an issue as Charles Soule paints a picture of Ben’s tragic past.
Embracing Your Nature
Snoke is playing a careful long game with Ben in The Rise of Kylo Ren #2. It is clear that Snoke’s goal is for Ben to embrace the dark side of the Force. So, Snoke uses any opportunity to encourage Ben, but he never strongly pushes him in the direction. Instead, Snoke uses Ben’s own curiosity against him. For instance, Snoke asks Ben whether he likes the oasis (the space station the are on). Ben’s response is that it is interesting. Snoke then uses the opportunity to explain that the oasis was meant as a point of light to hold back the dark. However, the creators were consumed by the dark and died. Snoke’s lesson is that this is what happens to those that deny the true nature of things.
In addition, Snoke is careful that Ben sees everything as his own idea. Having seemingly killed Luke Skywalker and destroyed the Jedi Temple in The Rise of Kylo Ren #1, Ben is on the run from the surviving Jedi in The Rise of Kylo Ren #2. Snoke asked him about his plans in the last issue, and Ben responded with interest in the Knights of Ren. While, this was in fact Ben’s idea, it furthers Snoke’s own aims. So, he gently pushes Ben in that direction by raising obstacles.
A Name of His Own
The first obstacle is explaining that the Knights of Ren wouldn’t be too interested in a “Ben Solo, Jedi-to-be.” Obviously, Snoke wants Ben to renounce the Jedi. That gets him one step closer to embracing the dark side. However, Ben answers this by stating that he hates his name. Snoke responds in a nearly Socratic style. He asks why Ben hates that name. Ben’s answer is simple: he is named after legends whether they be Ben Kenobi or Han Solo, and he doesn’t want to be Obi-Wan or Han.
This gives Snoke another opportunity in The Rise of Kylo Ren #2. He encourages Ben to name himself. For one, the Knights of Ren, if Ben joins them, will require he take a true name. Second, by choosing his own name, he embraces the dark side as he becomes his truest self. Snoke was not born with that name, he became Snoke. This revelation is notable given revelations about Snoke made in The Rise of Skywalker.
Ben already has a name in mind, and Snoke can sense it. Ben is reluctant to use it though, because he created the name as a child, and therefore, he believes it to be stupid. To the contrary, Snoke believes it makes the name all the more fitting. Children have pure thoughts in his view, and they do not practice self-deception.
Snoke’s theory on names is a split from the Sith tradition. In Revenge of the Sith, when Anakin finally swore allegiance to Darth Sidious, it was Sidious that looked into the dark side of the Force and renamed Anakin as Darth Vader. In addition, Ben’s aversion to the names of legend contradicts his allegiance to his own grandfather. The Force Awakens, and to some degree The Last Jedi, made it clear that Ben emulated Darth Vader and sought to claim his legacy as his own. It may be that Ben identified with Anakin and Vader’s motives better than Luke, Obi-Wan, and Han’s. Perhaps this is the lie Ben denounces during his meeting with Snoke.
From Ben’s meeting with Snoke, the story of The Rise of Kylo Ren #2 shifts to years earlier. Ben is accompanying Luke Skywalker and Lor San Tekka on a mission to investigate an abandoned Jedi temple on the planet of Elphrona. During the voyage, Snoke conducts a conversation with Ben about his true potential. However, Ben seems mostly content as Luke’s apprentice.
When they arrive at the temple (which exhibits a vibe similar to the temple from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) on Elphrona, the Knights of Ren reveal themselves. The temple is full of Jedi artifacts and both the Knights and Luke want them. The Knights of Ren are overconfident and believe that Luke is no match for them. However, Luke proves to be the true master of the Force in this situation. Ren and his Knights are forced to retreat.
Before the confrontation, Ben declares to the Knights of Ren that they face Luke Skywalker and “he is a legend!” The Knights are unimpressed and Ren responds that they too are “legendary.” This is of interest because the power of legends is one of the central themes of The Last Jedi. Initially, Luke rejected his role in the galaxy as a legend. He saw it as a curse and a foolish hope of the Resistance that he, a lone Jedi, could arrive and take out the First Order single handed. However, by the end of the movie, the spark of the Resistance was growing because of Luke’s legendary confrontation with Kylo Ren and the First Order. In addition, during his discussion with Snoke, Ben was rejecting his legendary heritage. He was trying to “let the past die,” but he wasn’t prepared to “kill it if [he] must.” He is getting there though.
Concluding Thoughts on The Rise of Kylo Ren #2
The Rise of Kylo Ren #2 is dripping with backstory and lore. Charles Soule masterfully wrote this story and is giving Star Wars fans a peak at the answers to the questions of who were the Knights of Ren, how did Snoke rise to power, and how Ben ended up joining him. However, he is careful not to burden readers with excessive exposition all at one time. Instead, he breaks up the ongoing story of Kylo’s flight from the Jedi Temple and the surviving Jedi Knights with stories from Ben’s past. Readers get a taste for the reverence Ben had for Luke before their relationship soured. In addition, Snoke carefully makes suggestions to Ben that influence his decisions. Much like how Darth Sidious, under the guise of Chancellor Palpatine, cautiously enticed Anakin to the dark side, Snoke points out Luke’s perceived weaknesses and preys upon Ben’s insecurity as a young Jedi. Snoke has a goal in mind, and he is willing to play the long game to get there. The Rise of Kylo Ren #2, as well as its predecessor, leaves incredible clues for readers about where the story ultimately ends in The Rise of Skywalker.
The mythology of the Knights of Ren receives due attention in The Rise of Kylo Ren #2 as well. When Luke, Lor, and Ben encounter them on Elphrona, the conflict ends with Ren removing his helmet and leaving it behind. This is a key moment. Later in his life, after consulting Snoke about joining the Knights, Snoke provides a few rules. First, one just doesn’t join the Knights of Ren. Anyone interested has to find them first. That is part of the test. This Ben does by returning to Elphrona and finding Ren’s helmet. He then uses it to contact Ren and discover where they will be next. Second, Snoke tells Ben if he starts this quest to join the Knights, he will either join their ranks or die in the process. This reinforces their strict application process first glimpsed in The Rise of Kylo Ren #1.
The Rise of Kylo Ren #2 concludes with plenty of issues still open. After contacting Ren, Ben is then confronted by the surviving Jedi, who have finally caught up to him. They tell him it is over, but of course, the reader knows otherwise. Kylo Ren had a reputation for destroying Luke’s Jedi Order and becoming a Jedi slayer, perhaps this is where he earns that reputation. Also, Ben’s “true name” was not revealed in this issue. Naturally, readers know what this name will ultimately be, but the final reveal of Ben taking that name is left for a later time.
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.