‘Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren’ – Comic Book Review [Part 2]
Why Kylo Ren deserved to be redeemed, plus more insights into the character…
When Kylo Ren flings his lightsaber into the ocean after his fight with Rey on the ruins of the Death Star, it’s the key turning point in his character journey in “The Rise of Skywalker.”
Constructing that red-bladed lightsaber marked his transformation from Ben Solo to Kylo Ren, and as he throws it away, he’s proving to the galaxy — and himself — that “Kylo Ren” is gone for good, and he’s ready to be Ben Solo again. He realizes just how deeply he is loved by his father and mother, even after all he’s done, and that inspires him to risk everything he has left to help Rey take down the Emperor.
Kylo Ren’s path to redemption is a long and difficult one, and if you’ve seen “The Rise of Skywalker,” you know it has a bittersweet ending. While I was always rooting for Kylo Ren to return to the light, some fans argued that he was too far gone.
Although the recently completed comic book series “The Rise of Kylo Ren” (written by Charles Soule and Will Sliney) deals primarily with Kylo’s fall, in it we can see the little sparks of hope that eventually lead to Ben’s redemption.
How Kylo Ren made his lightsaber
Thanks to its unique, flaming crossguard design, Kylo Ren’s lightsaber was instantly iconic. His dark side saber is actually adapted from his Jedi saber; the blue blade is transformed into a red one by a process known as “bleeding” the lightsaber’s kyber crystal.
If you’re a Star Wars super fan, you probably already know this, but a kyber crystal is a rare, living crystal that is connected to the Force and is used to power a lightsaber. According to Wookieepedia, in order to bleed a kyber crystal and turn it dark-side red, an individual has to pour their rage, hate, fear, and pain into the crystal, permanently altering it.
Ben completes this process in issue No. 4 of “The Rise of Kylo Ren,” and he finds he has plenty of emotions to draw from. (In fact, his crystal actually cracks during this process, requiring those extra vents on the side of the hilt that turn it into a crossguard design.)
Throughout the previous issues of this comic book series, Ben tries to avoid actually hurting the Jedi students from Luke’s temple who are pursuing him, but a final showdown between these students and Ben is inevitable.
Jedi students Voe and Tai track down Ben while he’s on a mission with the Knights of Ren, and the leader of the Knights of Ren kills Ben’s friend, Tai. Furious, Ben embraces the dark side and, in his anger, kills the leader of the Knights. He then kills Voe and accepts his new position as master of the Knights of Ren.
The tragedy of Ben’s fall is that he believes he was always doomed to follow this path, and the only way he can gain any kind of control over his life is to surrender to the darkness and use its power.
“I have no choice and never did,” Ben tells Tai as they’re dueling. “Even my name isn’t a choice. The dark side and the light both claimed me for their own the moment I was born. Whether it’s Luke Skywalker or Snoke, neither one sees me as a person. I’m just a…legacy. Just a set of expectations.”
What’s the deal with Kylo Ren and Rey?
I wasn’t expecting to see Rey show up in “The Rise of Kylo Ren” comic series, but she actually does make a brief — but significant — appearance in issue No. 4.
As Ben fully surrenders to the darkness and kills the leader of the Knights of Ren, we see that far away on Jakku, young Rey actually senses Ben’s fall, telling Unkar Plutt, “Huh. You feel that? Feels…cold.”
This panel demonstrates that as a dyad in the Force, Ben and Rey have always been connected, even though they didn’t understand it for many years. Their fates are intimately intertwined, and I hope that future novels and comics explore this even further.
Kylo and Rey’s dynamic is one of the most fascinating parts of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. I love the idea of a light side user and a dark side user being connected, as they try to fight their feelings for each other and also try to pull each other to their respective sides of the conflict.
Rey is one of the beacons of hope in Kylo’s life that eventually motivates him to turn back to the light. However, I appreciate that the films don’t put the responsibility to redeem Kylo on Rey. It’s not her job, and she’s not responsible for him. Kylo is the one who ultimately has to admit to his mistakes and choose the light.
Can Kylo Ren be redeemed?
So, now that the Star Wars sequel trilogy has concluded and we know how everything ends, do we feel that Kylo Ren’s redemption was justified?
I personally do. “The Rise of Kylo Ren” shows Ben as a broken, struggling young man whose thoughts are continuously poisoned by Snoke and Palpatine. He’s told that his family doesn’t care about him or believe in him, and he’s promised that if he joins the dark side, he’ll find acceptance and power.
Ben is still responsible for his own choices, and he has done terrible things. His tragic past doesn’t excuse him of crimes like killing his father, Han Solo.
Yet Star Wars has always been — and, I hope, always will be — about love, forgiveness, and redemption. It is never too late to turn back to the light, as Darth Vader demonstrates in the original trilogy when he sacrifices himself to save his son, Luke.
In “The Rise of Skywalker,” Leia gives the last of her lifeforce to reach out to Ben one last time, and later Ben sacrifices his life to bring Rey back from the dead.
After seeing just how tragic Ben’s fall truly was in “The Rise of Kylo Ren,” I’m sad Ben’s redemption arc in Ep. IX didn’t end with him living and finding a way to undo some of the harm he’d done to the galaxy. Yet I’m still glad the filmmakers chose the path of redemption to close out the story.
Ben thought he had to become Kylo Ren to become the man he was meant to be. But, as it turns out, Ben Solo was the person the galaxy needed all along.
This review covers issues No. 3 and 4 of “The Rise of Kylo Ren.” Check out part one of the review here!
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