Obi-Wan and Anakin #1

Lest anyone think "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has pushed the main characters from the prequels into potential obscurity, Charles Soule and Marco Checchetto remind readers there are still stories left to tell with them in "Obi-Wan and Anakin" #1. In fact, the first of this five-issue miniseries explores a rarely seen era and features a younger and less experienced Anakin Skywalker, taking place roughly halfway between "The Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones," which makes for a somewhat refreshing setting within the prequels' timeframe. It's largely Anakin's character that fuels Soule's story, although Soule also begins to establish dynamics between other familiar characters that fill in some holes left by the decade of continuity between Episodes I & II.

Anakin was first seen only as an innocent, albeit gifted, Jedi-to-be and then as a confident but brash young adult, who wielded his skills impressively but was ripe with emotional conflict. Here, Soule gets to explore the young, idealistic Anakin, one who's still coming to terms with the loss of his first mentor. Surprisingly, Soule mentions how Anakin has considered leaving the Jedi Order, an intriguing notion that presumably will be explored, but one that establishes his early dissatisfaction with the Jedi. Anakin's idealism clashes with the reality of the Jedi Knights' ties to the Republic Senate, and it's almost a shame Soule's story doesn't allow for further and more immediate exploration of that dichotomy.

The story itself puts a shipwrecked Obi-Wan and Anakin on a desolate world destroyed by warfare, although there's still plenty of threatening activity going on as the Jedi and Padawan are sucked into it. Here, Soule focuses on the more familiar dynamic between the two, which is a little more harmonious than the bickering seen in "Attack of the Clones." The setting of the story, though, is little more than a backdrop for the character interaction and doesn't really carry as much intrigue on its own.

Checchetto's Obi-Wan carries the essence of Ewan McGregor without relying on an exact facial likeness, and the same goes for the other characters readers have seen before. His teenage Anakin looks to be his intended age, and likewise doesn't need to evoke the look of a young Hayden Christensen to achieve it. Checchetto's thinly-drafted lines give all of the characters clean and well-defined features, and colorist Andres Mossa adds texture that gives the cast a deceptively simple look that makes all of them easily recognizable.

While Checchetto excels at the simple things, the bigger and bolder ones aren't necessarily better. The final moments on Obi Wan and Anakin's ship are a little confusing, as the tentacle-like objects surrounding it appear to be some kind of attack rather than an escape mechanism and the mechanics of what exactly happens to get them planet-side is unclear. A subsequent threat appears almost literally from nowhere, and whether the ship that looms overhead is on the offensive or in distress is initially difficult to discern. Mossa's colors do as much to obscure what's occurring in these scenes as they do to embellish.

"Obi-Wan and Anakin" #1 fulfills its main mission towards establishing just how a pre-war Jedi and Padawan would interact, even if all the trappings are just a benign and murky setting that doesn't really help the story along. Neither, though, do they hurt it too much, as characterization is what carries the issue, not disintegrating spacecraft.

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