During the Publishing in Star Wars panel of Fan Expo Toronto, writer Charles Soule (Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith) revealed new details about his upcoming and highly anticipated four-issue Marvel Comics series The Rise of Kylo Ren, which debuts on Dec. 4.
Soule described the comic as the origin story of the Kylo Ren that we see in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, or as he playfully called it, "From Ben to Ren." He confirmed that the series would deal with his apprenticeship under Luke Skywalker and the events leading up to the night he destroyed the Jedi Temple.
"You know, Ben Solo is tragic," Soule said. "The potential of him from the day he was born, everyone around him saw or thought they saw what he could be. So he was put in all these different paths, and we've kind of seen how that's gone wrong in the films so far. This is a story about Ben Solo, understanding some of the choices he made."
Other plot points that Soule mentioned are the mysterious Knights of Ren, who have been off-screen for two entire films, but whom Kylo Ren commands.
He couldn't guarantee that the readers would feel any affection for them, although he was doing everything in his power to write them as realistically as possible. "They're not good people," Soule said, "but they're people."
The way he described them sounded a lot like the treatment he gave to the Inquisitors in Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith. The Inquisitors are a team of Dark Side users, not full-fledged Sith, whose mission consists of tracking down and eliminating any Jedi survivors and fetching Force-sensitive babies and children to be raised under the shadow of the Empire. All of them were evil, but each of these characters was also distinctively memorable with very human reactions, desires, and fears.
It makes sense, because Soule also mentioned he was chosen to write The Rise of Kylo Ren because of his work on Dark Lord of the Sith, and with the five-issue Star Wars: Anakin and Obi-Wan, that also dealt with the formative Jedi years of Kylo's grandfather.
The common thread in the three stories is obvious: young men dealing with a radical change of their identity at the same time they have to face challenges set by their mentors. In Anakin and Obi-Wan, Anakin comes to realize what it really means to be a Jedi and all the things that he traded for it: a trade-off he wasn't fully conscious of at the time he left with Qui-Gon Jinn, because he was only 9 years old. In Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader has to learn how to be Darth Vader, and more importantly, how to let go of everything that Anakin was and that Anakin loved.
"I can't think of another one that's so absolutely walled off from his past to become somebody totally new… he's not like, 'Oh, yeah, I used to be that…' it's just like that person didn't exist," Soule explained. "Which is strange, because it is him, he has the memories, he hasn't forgotten Padme, it's just that that person is just dead."
Finally, The Rise of Kylo Ren will also deal with Ben Solo's training under Snoke, which was recently explored in Star Wars: Age of Resistance -- Supreme Leader Snoke #1, and it was nothing short of brutal. However, Soule will probably take a different approach, more character-driven than action-packed, as he did in his previous works.
When a fan asked him about the specifics of working on Star Wars for a character as important as Kylo Ren, Soule admitted he felt the pressure and that some of his choices might be considered controversial by some fans.
"You know, sometimes Star Wars stories are like telling a great story and having a great time playing in this sandbox," he said. "And other times, Star Wars jobs are like 'OK, we'll give you an incredibly key piece of the overall mythology that you have to nail.' You guys would not be very happy with me if I screw this up. And everyone here might not be very happy with the choices that I made."
However, he then explained that he didn't do that kind of storytelling all by himself: not only did he get a series of bullet points from the filmmakers of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker about where the character's story was going to be at the end of the saga, but his outline and dialogue had to be submitted to the Lucasfilm Story Group, who vet every detail of every story that takes place within the Star Wars Universe.
"Any significant change in Star Wars, that isn't just a little shade of a character that we know really well, it's vetted to make sure that it feels like Star Wars, that it fits within the Star Wars Universe, that it balances within the story universe, and that isn't in conflict with the Story Group. So you're in this weird game of chess with invisible chess players, you can't see the moves, and the only people who have a sense of the board, are not really playing it with the story."
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