The details behind Ben Solo’s fall to the dark side and transformation into Kylo Ren have been a compelling mystery since the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015, but even more mysterious is the fate of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker’s other students. For a while a number of fans (including myself) had assumed that some of Luke’s padawan learners had become the Knights of Ren when they left with Ben, but recent revelations have proven that not to be the case.
In the latest issue of Marvel Comics’ Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren, we get to know a few of those students a little bit better, as the comic flashes back to their relationships with Ben Solo prior to his corruption by Snoke, and then shows us the conflict that leads to the beginning of their end.
Seeking to cement his place at Snoke’s side and find a new path in the galaxy, Ben Solo has traveled to the planet Varnak in the Mid Rim in search of the Knights of Ren, whose showdown with Luke Skywalker we saw last issue. The knights are intrigued but otherwise unimpressed, and they inform Ben of their initiation ritual: he must cause a death, but not just any death. Ben then relates the tale of how he faced off with three of his former fellow students (namely Voe, Tai, and Hennix– two humans and one Quarren) on Elphrona, the site of an ancient Jedi outpost.
During the time-hopping flashbacks, we learn that Voe always felt a fierce competition with Ben, that Hennix had innate puzzle-solving abilities, and that Tai was inquisitive and insightful about Ben’s inner thoughts and self-image. We then witness the confrontation that culminates in one of their untimely deaths, though it is made clear that Ben is still hesitant in his actions. In that moment he is only seeking the Knights of Ren and is forced to combat his peers because they tracked him to Elphrona. The Knights of Ren detect this indecision in his tale, with the being known as Ren himself saying “You didn’t really want it.” They reinforce the need for Ben to commit “a good death” and give him some new, darker clothes that serve as a stark contrast to his Jedi robes.
In the next issue– the final installment of The Rise of Kylo Ren miniseries– we’re sure to see Luke’s two remaining light-side students catch up to Ben Solo, and I imagine we’ll also learn how exactly Ben manages to install himself as the new leader of the Knights of Ren, if that is indeed what happens. For now, I’m happy to report that writer Charles Soule continues to prove himself as the most capable Star Wars scribe on the Marvel Comics staff, while Will Sliney’s artwork remains evocative and atmospheric, in keeping with the mood set by the darker elements of the recent Star Wars sequel trilogy. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the conclusion to this series next month.
Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren #3 is available now wherever comic books are sold.
Mike serves as Laughing Place’s lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly “Who’s the Bossk?” Star Wars podcast. He’s been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general since a very young age and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.