Star Wars: Obi-Wan and Anakin #1
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colorist: Andres Mossa
Before their military heroism in the Clone Wars, before their tragic battle on Mustafar, and many decades before their final confrontation on the Death Star…they were Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and his Padawan learner, Anakin Skywalker. It’s been a few years since Obi-Wan pledged to train the young “chosen one,” but even as they have grown closer through training, it has been a difficult road. Now, called to a remote planet for assistance, Master and Padawan may be pushed to the breaking point. Writer Charles Soule (Lando, She-Hulk, Daredevil) and artist Marco Checchetto (Star Wars: Shattered Empire, Avengers World, Punisher) bring us a tale of the Jedi at the height of their power…
With the exception of Kanan: The Last Padawan Marvel has not really set foot outside of the original trilogy era of Star Wars. Even with Kanan they seem to have been doing their best to not acknowledge the prequels at all except with vague, throwaway nods like Leia having a moment with a stained glass window shaped like Padme, and then later (in another series entirely) Leia feeling the lingering force presence of Darth Maul on Naboo briefly. So it would not be a stretch to say that Obi-Wan and Anakin #1 is a move outside of their comfort zone. I suspect this has at least a little to do with The Force Awakens finally coming out so that Marvel can finally stop trying to make us reconnect with the original characters in anticipation of their return.
Anyway, let us talk about the actual story at hand here. We are now in that squishy area between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones which, even in the Dark Horse era of comics, we have never really touched on. Which is actually surprising when you think about since a good amount of time happened in between those stories, and there is a lot of potential in showing how the naïve young Skywalker turned into the angsty teenager of the latter prequels.
Writer Charles Soule, whom you might remember from the excellent Lando series late last year, seems to recognize the potential here and decides to focus largely on the growing pains that Obi-Wan and Anakin have to face together. It is easy to forget that Obi-Wan essentially had the responsibility of Anakin’s training thrust upon him by the dying Qui-Gon, and you could easily argue he was not really ready for the role. Anakin, for his part, is also clearly not mature enough for the responsibilities he is expected to shoulder, and the early signs of his eventual arrogant fall are already there.
There is really nothing unexpected to this aspect of the story. Obi-Wan is worried about the emotions his charge is feeling, Anakin has anger issues surpassing those of most young teenagers, and the council is still skeptical that any of this was a good idea at all. It is well executed, though, even if it is not particularly subtle about it. Which is fine since we already know the starting and ending point of this partnership, and there is only so much wiggle room to play with.
A more interesting aspect to this is how totally unsubtle Chancellor Palpatine is in displaying his interest in Skywalker’s development. I cannot imagine that Palpatine meddles all that frequently with Jedi affairs at this point, and especially not in regards to Padawan development, but it does not seem to be setting off alarm bells in the Jedi council. We have always seen and been told that Palpatine is a master manipulator, but the outright boldness of his telling Mace Windu that he outranks the Jedi and they can fling any objections out the airlock suggests that he really did not have to be all that subtle at all. It does not say much of the council’s sensibilities that they fail to notice his manipulations for another ten years or so, and even then he pretty much had to paint a picture for them to get it.
Aside from all of this there is an actual plot to the story here, although not much gets developed yet. Anakin and Obi-Wan are on a mission to the planet Carnelion IV, which is thought to be deserted, but is actually home to some sort of steampunk airship war. Some sort of distress beacon has been set off in the area, but the natives do not seem to be aware of the outside galaxy and are busy with their own internal conflict of some sort. With their own ship destroyed by space debris Anakin and Obi-Wan are stranded on the planet, and have to sort things out. Which is where we leave off for next issue.
It is a bit of a slow-burn issue, which gives artist Marco Checchetto the chance to draw some lovely scenes, particularly in the early stages of the issue. You may recognize his work from last year’s Shattered Empire series which was theoretically supposed to tie into The Force Awakens, but really just meandered around for a bit before eventually just ending. Checchetto was a major highlight in that series, and he is a big reason why I enjoyed this issue. He draws excellent space and ship scenes, but he is also adept at keeping exposition sequences from being boring, too. He also got to choreograph a short fight between young Anakin and a practice droid mimicking Darth Maul, which gives me hope for some enjoyable fights later in this series.
There is a lot going for this book so far, and fans should get a lot of enjoyment out of it. That said, there is not much going on in this issue, and what little there is taking its sweet time to get where it is going. If you are not in a hurry then you may be well advised to wait for the trade paperback release of the book. But, if you are coming fresh out of The Force Awakens and want to sink your teeth into some more Star Wars goodness, then you could certainly do a lot worse than giving this book a look.