In Review: Star Wars: Age of Resistance-Kylo Ren #1

These creators need to return to Kylo in a limited series.

The covers: A trio to nab for this excellent issue. The Regular cover by Phil Noto has Kylo unmasked standing before the reader with his saber held across his chest. He looks at the reader hypnotically. Behind him, composed of flame, is Darth Vader’s profile, with grandfather looking to the left. Vader is in orange, making black clad Kylo pop. This is terrific and the one I had to own. The Greatest Moments Variant by Ron Frenz, Tom Palmer, and Antonio Fabela features Luke and Vader’s climatic battle before the Emperor aboard the second Death Star. The reader is looking up at the characters as the Sith Lord’s cape covers the top of the illustration and his left leg is seen. Luke is frenzied as he wails on his father. Behind them Palpatine grins like the Grim Reaper from this throne. This is killer! Mike McKone and Guru-eFX create the Puzzle Piece Variant cover that features Kylo, mask on, holding his saber with both hands to his right as his cape splays behind him. He’s standing in open space as three Star Destroyers go from the center left to the bottom center. Several TIE Fighters are accompanying these ships down from the center. The background is primarily blue space with just a hint of red in the upper left. Outstanding! Overall grades: All A+

The story: In Wild Space, formerly retired stormtrooper Captain Ruthford suits up. His armor is a bit tight on his scarred body, but “This is familiar, and I should be allowed a certain degree of comfort,” rather than wearing First Order armor. Kylo Ren is informed that their shuttle has come to the designated negotiation spot. He turns to Ruthford. “Captain. You are the only soldier left alive from the last battle here…How did you survive.” The old soldier replies, “Dumb luck, mostly.” “I doubt that,” the Sith says. “You will accompany and advise.” Tom Taylor has the pair walk out of their ship in tandem with several Walkers, Scout Walkers, and hundreds of troopers. “This is where I will succeed…Where Vader failed.” The same visual changes to the past to show Vader in the exact same spot years earlier accompanied by a similarly massive force. Kylo is there to negotiate with the Benathy. Ruthford gives his opinion of this massive race before they enter the tent where they are to negotiate. Taylor wastes no time with the action starting shockingly on Page 9. Ruthford’s reaction to what’s occurring is telling. Before the reader has a chance to recover as to what’s happened, a stunning move is made on 10. Pages 12 and 13 visually compare Vader’s actions to Ren’s and they are beautifully parallel. I was completely floored by the appearance of a character on 14 that I haven’t seen in many years in any form of Star Wars entertainment. My hat is off to Taylor for including this individual. I love the dialogue and reactions on 16. Page 19’s wasn’t surprising, but it was definitely awesome. The last page has brilliant dialogue and it was impossible not to hear the first words on the page spoken in a specific actor’s voice. This was a fun read that showcases Ren’s power and ability to get the job done. Ruthford is a great new (old) character and I would love to read another pairing of him and the title character. Taylor keeps Ren faithful to his screen persona, but makes him the powerhouse that the films only hint. More please, Mr. Taylor and Marvel. Overall grade: A 

The art: The pencils on this issue are by Leonard Kirk and the inks by Cory Hamscher. I liked the artwork because it parallels Vader’s actions in the past, plus Ruthford was a very striking character with his battle scarred face. The first panel of the book is a wonderfully moody image of the First Order shuttle going toward a planet. Ruthford is first shown wearing part of his stormtrooper armor, allowing the reader to get into this individual as he gets into his gear. The close-up of him at the bottom of the page highlights the massive scars on this bald head; this allows his words to carry a great amount of weight. Page 2 is a full-paged splash of Kylo, out of armor, topless, on the floor meditating, using the Force to levitate several objects. I like that Ruthford isn’t afraid to smile around Kylo, which is something no one in the films is able to do. Pages 4 and 5 have two long panels that stretch across both pages, giving a panoramic view of what the setting looks like as the First Order swarms forward and in the past when the Empire did the same. It’s a great visual comparison. The reveal of King Kristoff is fantastic. He and the other Benathy look awesome and I absolutely love what he wears as part of his garb. The movement between panels three and four on 8 is excellent and makes the dialogue smile worthy. The eye pop in the final panel on this page is a great character trait. The large panel on 9 is a brilliant shock and the smaller panel below it allows a character to speak volumes with his facial reactions. I admit to gasping at the third panel on 10: it’s primarily in silhouette, but it clearly communicates a violent action without being too graphic. The large panel on 11 is something the reader expects to see, and the artists do a decent job on it, though the characters in the distance are just outlines. The best two pages of the book are 12 and 13, which feature Vader on the left and Ren on the right battling the Benathy. These are practically textless panels that show how much the grandson emulates the grandfather. The entrance on 14 is wonderful. It has so much power, which this individual should create. Page 16 is made of six equal sized vertical panels that brilliantly show how the characters react to one another. The fall on 17 is great, resulting in the expected way on 18, but it still looks cool. The final panel on 19 is good, with it being PG-13 clean. The second panel on 20 again has the crowd in the foreground much more defined than those in the background. The last panel’s smile is delicious. Oh, yeah! If Kylo were to get his own mini-series, I would love to see Kirk and Hamscher illustrate it. Overall grade: A- 

The colors: Guru-eFX do an excellent job with the book’s colors. The first panel of the book sets an ominous tone from the get-go with the dark colors of the shuttle against the orange-yellow planet. I love the blue-white lights behind the troopers when they talk — and excellent visual throwback to Imperial settings. These lights are shown once more with them being behind Kylo on Page 2, which nicely move the story into the present. The colors of the world are glorious arid in orange-yellow, as are the Benathy. When Vader and his troopers are shown they are given a blue to age the past as well as make their actions seem very cold. There’s some neat work done on the tusks of the Benathy. Reds on orange occur on 10 and 11 and doesn’t sound like it would work until it is seen. It makes the actions on these pages very violent. Notice how the sounds are similarly colored on 12 and 13, increasing the bond between the past and the present. Although there is quite a bit of red in 19’s final panel, more would have been better, but that would have taken the book out of the teen reader zone. I like how the final panel has one character’s hair match his costume, making it seem as if he’s never out of his now iconic clothes. Overall grade: A

The letters: This issue’s text is by VC’s Travis Lanham, who creates the scene settings, dialogue, sounds, and yells. I have really been enjoying the scene settings on this series and I’m continuing to hope that these are the ones employed when Marvel restarts the main Star Wars title. There’s a lot of yelling in this book and it comes across as loud by being in a larger and thicker font. I especially like the yell that starts the final page. The sounds are slick, with the battle noises being appropriate. I really liked that Vader’s saber was a cleaner looking sound than Kylo’s; a smart visual clue that Ren’s saber is not built well. Overall grade: A

The final line: These creators need to return to Kylo in a limited series. This shows Ren to be the expert fighter and leader that he’s spoken of, plus veteran trooper Ruthford is awesome. The visuals are well done, with Kylo being a beast in battle. And how can anyone complain at seeing Vader and a throng of stormtroopers bringing the hurt? The colors add to the intensity of the tale and the letters match the power on the page. This is handsome comic that shows the strength of this iconic character. Marvel, more from all involved, please! Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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