Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren by writer Charles Soule and artist Will Sliney is a comic mini-series showing how once-promising Jedi Ben Solo fell to the Dark Side and became Kylo Ren. The third issue reveals a pivotal step in that journey: the first time Ben killed a Jedi. However, it doesn’t happen like you’d think.
Warning: full spoilers ahead!
The first two issues of the series reveal that certain events only hinted at in the movies actually unfolded in quite a different manner. For one, Ben didn’t destroy the Jedi temple after his confrontation with Luke Skywalker. A strange, booming voice bellowed from the sky and Force-lightning struck the school and made it explode. Could it have been the Emperor? After that, Ben fled to his mentor Snoke, who greeted him with an uncharacteristically warm and fatherly hug. Snoke instructed Ben to seek out and join the Knights of Ren, but in order for him to join, the leader, named Ren, told Ben that he must kill someone and that it needed to be a good death.
In an attempt to prove himself worthy, Ben tells Ren of his first kill. He explains how three Jedi students who were off-planet at the time of the explosion — Voe, Hennix, and Tai — tracked him down and confronted him. They were his classmates in Luke’s Jedi school since they were kids. The story shows how there may have been certain tensions between Ben and the other three, but ultimately they were friends with one another. When the three Jedi catch up to Ben, they try to capture him and engage him in a three-on-one lightsaber battle.
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Ben is able to use his Force-jumping skills to create some distance, knowing that only Voe has the strength to follow him. Landing atop a precipice, Ben waits for Voe to reach him and then Force-pushes her off the cliff. He immediately regrets his decision and tries to save her with the Force, but Hennix had climbed up the cliffside to surprise him from behind. Hennix throws his lightsaber at Ben, and Ben reacts by blocking the saber and sending it right back at Hennix, but Hennix isn’t ready for the counter and is killed by his own lightsaber. Voe continues to fall but is caught at the last second by Vai. Ben ends the conflict by Force-tossing Voe and Vai into the nearby ancient temple and using the Force to cause a cave-in, sealing them inside.
After recalling this story, Ren tells Ben that the way he killed Vennis wasn’t a good death because he didn’t want it to happen. Regardless, Ren lets Ben join in hopes that he will get the chance to truly prove himself. Ben even gets a new all-black outfit resembling something his father Han Solo might wear, complete with a blaster strapped to the side of his leg.
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While the small bits of information we learn in the movies make it sound like Ben personally burnt down the temple and murdered Luke’s other students, the real story is quite different. Ben is incredibly conflicted about having to fight his fellow classmates. He tried to save one of them during their battle, and the one he did kill was on accident. The story shows how Ben was never good at handling his famous lineage and that he never learned to share his feelings, preferring to hide them away in an unhealthy manner.
Ben didn’t feel like he fit in at Luke’s Jedi academy, but that doesn’t automatically make him an evil murderer. It more feels like Ben was never cut out to be a Jedi, despite how gifted he was in the Force, but instead of dealing with his inner turmoil, he let it fester, and that made him an easy target for Snoke/Palpatine. This story shows how they took a misunderstood Jedi strong in the Force and manipulated him into falling to the Dark Side by framing him for murder and making it seem like his only option was to join a gang of Dark Side worshipers.
But despite the conflict raging within Ben, the two surviving Jedi have made up their minds about what to do with him. When Voe and Vai escape the ruins and see that Ben killed Vennix, they take that as a clear sign that he is truly lost. They ignite their sabers, implying that their plan is no longer to capture Ben but kill him for falling to the Dark Side and taking the life of their friend.
For more on Kylo Ren, check out the video below where the Force Awakens fight choreographer breaks down how he constructed the epic battle between Rey and Kylo Ren:
Joshua is Senior Features Editor at IGN. If Pokemon, Green Lantern, or Game of Thrones are frequently used words in your vocabulary, you’ll want to follow him on Twitter @JoshuaYehl and IGN.