Today saw the release of issue #1 of Marvel Comics’ adaptation of the live-action Disney+ series Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi. Below are my thoughts on this comic-book release.
Last year, in conjunction with the release of the six-episode Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+, Marvel released the Star Wars: Obi-Wan comic-book miniseries, which gave us new adventures set throughout the life of the Jedi Master played, in various media, by Sir Alec Guinness, Ewan McGregor, and James Arnold Taylor. That miniseries was the type of cross-promotional, synergistic tie-in I enjoy the most, in that it was fresh content that accentuated and recontextualized what we were seeing on the TV show. But I suppose the powers that be at Lucasfilm Publishing and Marvel Comics wanted to milk just a little bit more out of Obi-Wan Kenobi, so now we’re getting a much more literal adaptation of the series, much like they’ve done with the first two seasons of The Mandalorian. So Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi #1 arrived on comic shop shelves today, and it’s written by Jody Houser, who gave us previous comic-book adaptations of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Timothy Zahn’s novel Star Wars: Thrawn, and the still-never-released comic version of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. That’s all well and good for what it is, but my real disappointment came when I saw that the interior artwork for this title would be drawn by Salvador Larroca, who has contributed to Marvel’s flagship Star Wars title and Star Wars: Darth Vader in the past.
I know that Larroca’s style has been controversial among both Marvel Comics and Star Wars fans alike in that he takes a semi-realistic approach to his characters, often copying their likenesses like a Xerox off of the screen, and sometimes even “casting” unrelated actors as superheroes and other personalities, like he did with Lost’s Josh Holloway and Tony Stark during his Iron Man run. But whether you think Larroca’s work is sufficient for original stories is really neither here nor there for the purposes of this review. My problem lies with the fact that this is already an extremely faithful adaptation of a preexisting story. In The Mandalorian comic, I often find myself wondering exactly what writer Rodney Barnes’ job specifically is, but at least there you have artist Georges Jeanty’s interpretation of the scenes from the show to keep you entertained. Here, it almost feels like I’m looking at screen-captures from Disney+. There are some exceptions in this first issue, of course, like when Larroca gives us a nice-looking splash page of Obi-Wan’s memories from his life and experiences training Anakin Skywalker, and some clever panel placement in the pages that follow, but otherwise I do feel like I might as well just fire up the streaming service. I enjoyed Obi-Wan Kenobi in live-action and I was actually looking forward to revisiting it in this form, but now I’m kind of dreading picking up the remaining five issues because of the overall lack of creativity on display within.
Issue #1, of course, gives us– pretty much beat for beat– that first episode of the Disney+ series, which premiered at the end of May in 2022. Obi-Wan is living in the Tatooine desert under the assumed name of “Ben” and working to eke out a living while he watches over young Luke Skywalker. Meanwhile a group of Sith Inquisitors are hard at work tracking down any remaining Jedi still living out there in the galaxy after the events of Order 66. But when Luke’s twin sister Leia Organa goes missing from her adoptive homeworld of Alderaan, Bail and Breha Organa beg Obi-Wan to spring back into action to help rescue her. You know the story if you’ve seen the show, so the question is are you interested in reading it on the comic page with dialogue and imagery that is essentially copied right off the television screen? If the answer is yes, I guess I’d recommend picking this up. If not, I’d say stick with the series. Personally this comes across as perfunctory and superfluous to me (except for the nice-looking “A” cover art by Phil Noto), but I’ll keep checking out the remaining issues to see if my opinion is swayed one way or another.
Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi #1 is available now wherever comic books are sold.