Marvel has been slaying it with their Star Wars comics since Star Wars #1 came out almost a year ago. There might have been some weak links here and there, but not a single title has been flat out bad. They’ve managed to capture the essence of Star Wars, putting out books that range from action/adventure stories, to more deeply personal stories, to space heist stories. Now, Marvel has placed rock-star writer Charles Soule (fresh off that space heist story, Lando) on the latest title, Obi-Wan & Anakin.
Obi-Wan & Anakin takes place in the dark time between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, a period not many authors have ventured into. Anakin has been training for several years under Obi-Wan and at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. This particular story jumps right into the action, as the two crash land on a strange planet in response to a distress call. After some brief dialogue, it then flashes back to the recent past at the Temple, as the brass observe Anakin train. In terms of major plot points, there’s not much that can be said without spoiling the fun. Just know that this first issue scratches the surface on what is going to be a great story.
This isn’t an action tale; it’s a character study. And when you want a story about developing characters, and building relationships, you hire Charles Soule to write it. In just one issue, Soule has already established exactly who these individuals are internally, and how they view one another. Anakin is a brash kid, on his way to being the brash teen from Episode II, and we get to see the genesis of his distaste for the Jedi status quo. Obi-Wan is not yet a Master, but a Jedi Knight, and Soule quickly establishes him as the perfect foil for his padawan. He also has his issues with the Jedi Order, but where Anakin is willing to argue rules, Obi-Wan takes more of a “we must do what we can within the rules” approach. Since this is ultimately a miniseries about the relationship between a teacher and his student, it will be interesting to see what the two learn from one another by the end.
Now, while the book does a great job of expanding upon already existing characters and relationships, the real fun is when it goes beyond that. There is a moment in this story that is extremely brief, but very much worth mentioning. Anakin is training, and he has a slight confrontation with a pair of padawans in his cohort. After reading it, it struck me that the Star Wars canon has never seen a young Skywalker interacting with other students. It’s fascinating to see how they feel about training with the supposed “Chosen One,” and how he reacts in turn. It’s these little moments that build on this universe and make it such an enjoyable and engaging experience for the fans.
Marco Checchetto does a tremendous job on art, and manages to create two very different vibes for the different points in the timeline. The field mission yields stunning landscapes, and some epic action. On the flip side, the training sessions are very intimate, focusing on close ups to show the emotion in characters’ faces. Without words, Checchetto conveys what Star Wars is supposed to be: a space adventure that balances being grand in scale, yet personal in tone.
This miniseries is going to be a fun ride, and issue one is absolutely worth your $3.99 this week. Yes, it’s a prequel story. But Soule is finally doing what the prequel movies failed to do: develop the characters and their relationships. The prequel trilogy had no chemistry between the characters, and gave fans no reason to get invested in their fates (except for Obi-Wan; Ewan McGregor rules). Plus, The Phantom Menace played such an especially small role in the grand scheme of the saga, that it could honestly be removed without missing a beat. Obi-Wan & Anakin is shaping up to be the Episode I that Star Wars fans deserve.
On a quick side note, fans have also been pushing for an Obi-Wan solo series to tell his story between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. I’ve made no secret of who I think Marvel should put on it, and this first issue of Obi-Wan & Anakin confirms it.
— Charles Soule (@CharlesSoule) December 19, 2015
He’s a total Jedi. Until the Death Star blows up Earth, make mine Marvel!