In Review: Star Wars: Age of Republic-Obi-Wan Kenobi #1

Recommend for fans who want to see the relationship between the Jedi's most famous duo grow.

The covers: Everyone loves Obi-Wan and that must be why this issue has six different covers to collect. The Regular cover by Paolo Rivera features the famous Jedi from Episode II using his lightsaber to deflect blaster fire. He looks calm as he’s peppered with shots, keeping the barrage from him. Solid layout and good colors. The Iain McCaig Concept Design Variant, which is the cover I purchased, features another drawing by McCaig pulled from the artwork he created for the prequels. It’s a rougher illustration that previous covers, with the character looking a little blurry, but I love seeing McCaig’s work and I had to pick this up. The Photo Variant cover definitely comes from Revenge of the Sith as actor Ewan McGregor is older Obi-Wan. He looks at the reader warily, holding his lightsaber ready. He’s been photoshopped against a blue star field. Qui-Gon Jinn dominates the middle of this book. Before him, to his right, is Obi-Wan with his lightsaber held up, while on his left is Padme shooting a terrific look of death at someone. Down low is a crouched Anakin from Episode III, his saber held low as he races forward. Behind all are two suns and a lineup of clone troopers. This is an awesome Variant cover by Leinil Francis Yu & Jesus AburtovMike McKone & Guru-eFX Variants continue their streak of connecting covers. Obi-Wan from Episode II strikes a classic pose holding his iconic weapon with two hands. Behind him is a red background showing Republic cruisers and Jedi fighters, as well as a bit of a blue starry setting that holds the cruisers and Naboo fighters. Very cool. The Rahzzah Variant is the most interesting cover of the lot, with Kenobi from Episode II shown from the right in a pitch black environment illuminated only by his blue lightsaber. The intensity on the Jedi’s face is great and the colors are brilliant. This would look great on a tee shirt! Overall grades: Regular B+, Concept Design Variant A-, Photo Variant A, Yu Variant A+, McKone Variant A, and Rahzzah Variant A+

The story: Returning to chart this Star Wars tale is writer Jody Houser and she’s created a very neat story. Beginning not long after the events of The Phantom Menace, Anakin is seen training with the other padawans, learning how to mediate. Within a page time has passed to “now” where Anakin is a tween and meditating with Obi-Wan. The student is also manipulating a pile of small stones into an upside down pyramid. Seeking approval, Anakin asks how he’s doing, with Obi-Wan replying, “Very good, Anakin. Now see if you can hold it in place for the rest of the session.” He then thinks about his pupil, realizing he would make any master proud. ‘When he actually listens, at least.’ Their meditation is interrupted by the arrival of Master Tosan who tells the master he has been given a mission by the Jedi Council to go to Dallenor where an archaeology team believes they have discovered a Jedi holocron. Obi-Wan tells Anakin he will stay behind to study, but another Jedi tells Kenobi that it would be better if Anakin joined him. The adventure that follows on Dallenor is good, with some enjoyable action, but it serves to focus on the point of this tale: to show that Obi-Wan isn’t sure in his abilities to mentor Anakin. His insecurities that have him doubting Skywalker, with him unintentionally saying something very hurtful on Page 9. By the end of this book readers can tell that his feelings for the padawan have changed and it provides a bridge to their partnership that’s established in Attack of the Clones. A solid story that showcases some good character growth. Overall grade: A

The art: There are two pencilers on this issue, Cory Smith and Wilton Santos with inks by Walden Wong. The book’s credits do not state who is responsible for which pages. The first page shows little Anakin in class surrounded by other padawans of other races. The characters in the second panel aren’t very detailed, with the backgrounds being incomplete. The backgrounds are dismissed entirely in the final panel on the page. Things improve in the present, with Obi-Wan and Anakin looking good on the second page, and the backgrounds are suitable. Page 3 has a neat way of showing Anakin slightly changing the parameters of his lesson and an infamous scene from Episode I. Tosan looks okay, but has a very 1980’s design to her. The Jedi Master that convinces Kenobi to take Anakin looks okay as well, though that’s the most luxurious hair I’ve ever seen on this character. Anakin’s joy at being in a ship on Page 7 is great and the apprehension that Obi-Wan shows in the next panel mirrors his looks in the prequels. The upset character on 9 looks great! I especially like the final panel on that page that increases the verbal mistake. Dallenor looks good, with its mountains and structures a neat combination; it seems that this is when the change in artists occurs. The armed characters remind me of some of Dark Horse Comics’ alien designs from the late 1990’s. Obi-Wan looks terrific in combat at this location and Anakin looks great as the frightened youth, with his silent transition on 18 outstanding. I like the layout of action on 16 and 17 with the panels diagonal and going across both pages: this makes the actions seem much more frantic. The disappointment of a character on the penultimate page is also good. The final panel of the page visually reinforces the text beautifully, confirming that a change has been made. The visuals are fine, but they do look better once Dallenor has been reached. Overall grade: B

The colors: The Jedi Temple and its characters don’t really provide too many opportunities for colors, since its concrete settings and brown clad members are dour. Thankfully, Java Tartaglia knows how to mix things up to make panels pop. Giving Jedi different skin colors and putting some strong reds in the surroundings brighten things up. The flashback panel on Page 3 is given a fantastic electric red. Neon blues make the setting pop on Pages 5 and 6. The flashback scenes on the next two pages are done in different shades of tan, aging them without making them ancient. Page 10 is on an alien world, so Tartaglia uses some great oranges to make this world foreign. Characters’ skin tones, on both the heroes and the villains, adds to the realism of what goes down. The yells on 16 and 17 are given a great red to make them stand out during the action. By leaving the final panel’s background white the reader’s attention is wholly on the final character, reinforcing the lesson learned. Overall grade: A-

The letters: VC’s Travis Lanham is responsible for this issue’s text: scene settings, dialogue and narration, sounds, and yells. I really like the scene settings on this book. They are big, easy to read, and really stand apart from the other text, instantly alerting the reader to a change in location or time. The dialogue and narration have the same font, differed only by the shape of the balloon or box that contains them. This was disappointing, as they should be two different styles as they are two different forms of communication. There’s a neat variant of sounds in this issue, with a lightsaber’s ignition being great to see, as it’s often absent in other Star Wars books. The yells on 16 and 17 are oddly constructed: I don’t understand why one would exceed the closing boundary of its balloon and two others would exceed the beginning of the balloons. Their construction took me out of the reading experience. Overall grade: B-

The final line: An early tale of Obi-Wan and Anakin begins to have the master think differently of his apprentice. The story is great, though the visuals are mixed. One penciler would have solved this issue. The colors are well done, but the letters are very uneven for the jobs required of them. I would still recommend this for fans who want to see the relationship between the Jedi’s most famous duo grow. Overall grade: B+

To order a digital copy go to https://comicstore.marvel.com/Star-Wars-Age-Of-The-Republic-Obi-Wan-Kenobi-2019-1/digital-comic/50348?r=1

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

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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