Thanks to Obi-Wan Kenobi‘s premiere on Disney+ earlier this year, Star Wars fans were treated to a treasure trove of Obi-Wan stories this year. There was a young adult book about Obi’s padawan years, a full-fledged novel focusing on his relationship with his own padawan Anakin, and, of course, the six-part live action series set before A New Hope. Obi-Wan even found himself the star of a five-issue anthology comic book series written by Christopher Cantwell and drawn by a rotating roster of artists. Though the TV series manages to make up for its shortcomings with an unforgettably epic finale, Star Wars: Obi-Wan— A Jedi’s Purpose collects five stories from the storied Jedi’s past that do little to add to the iconic character’s lore, resulting in a passable but ultimately unremarkable comic.
Structured as various journal entries written by the elder Kenobi as he awaits the passing of a sandstorm on Tatooine, the miniseries kicks off with Obi retelling an adventure from his days as young child in the Jedi temple. Cantwell immediately shows his understanding of Obi-Wan as a character, writing an adolescent Kenobi who is every bit as loyal and empathetic as you’d expect.
Each panel is rendered expertly by The High Republic mainstay Ario Anindito, who brings a youthful exuberance to every panel that heightens the feeling of childlike adventure. Overall, however, this story is over as quickly as it begins, offering little to sink your teeth into outside of the great art and clear understanding of the character. It’s not a bad way to start the series, not at all. It’s just bland.
Obi-Wan’s next journal entry takes the reader about a decade past the first entry, with the tale of a teenage Kenobi responding to a remote distress signal alongside his Master Qui-Gon Jinn. This is a tricky story for artist Luke Ross and color artist Nolan Woodard to bring to life, since it is a horror-leaning adventure that takes place on a planet that is supposed to be in utter darkness. Their solution is to cast the entire issue in a more monotone palette that lets the reader know it’s super dark, but that unfortunately minimizes the feeling of dread and terror that could’ve taken this issue into truly scary territory.
The mystery that unfolds as Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon explore the darkened installation is one that will keep you engaged throughout the issue, until the mystery is solved so anti-climactically. The two Jedi discover that the darkness is being created by a faulty fuel source that is corrupting the atmosphere. This completely scientific explanation for the frights you see doesn’t offer a satisfying conclusion and ends up blunting any feeling of dread, mystery, or excitement. In a galaxy full of literal space monsters and the occasional evil space wizard, explaining the darkness shrouding this planet in such a grounded way feels like a wasted opportunity.
Issues #3 and #4 of this series are where Cantwell hits his stride, telling two directly connected stories that really explore the Jedi’s role in the Clone Wars, the effect it had on those Jedi, and how the Jedi are supposed to even exist in such a violent galaxy. These two stories are by far the most introspective and thought provoking in the series, making the reader really reexamine the Clone Wars and whether any of it was ever worthwhile for those who fought in it. The latter of the two stories even does a tremendous job planting early seeds of Anakin’s eventual turn to the dark side in an emotionally devastating tale that showcases exactly how heavy the toll of the Clone Wars was.
This little duology is honestly too good for this whole series. Whereas the other three issues tell totally inconsequential stories with little emotional weight or introspection, these two issues show us a newer side of Obi-Wan. A side where he looks back on his days as a General with disillusion, questioning his actions and contemplating the purpose of Jedi peacekeepers if they so hastily answer calls to engage in lethal violence. Both artists, Alessandro Miracolo and Madibek Musabekov on issues #3 and #4 respectively, do an excellent job conveying the carnage of war — both physical and emotional — without losing the reader’s attention in the chaos. These two issues are the absolute standouts of this collection, and are the two that I’d say are essential reads for Star Wars fans.
The series concludes with the only story to take place in real-time, rather than as a journal entry. Like the first two issues in this series, the conclusion is simply fine. If anything, it’s the weakest of the bunch. It flies by with little to no impact and the only memorable thing about is a weird decision by Obi-Wan to let a random Imperial Stormtrooper see and eventually wield his lightsaber. Cantwell has made it clear throughout this series that he really gets Obi-Wan, but this felt like a senseless decision for Obi-Wan to make.
Aside from that one boneheaded moment in the final issues, there’s nothing in Star Wars: Obi-Wan— A Jedi’s Purpose that is particularly bad. Outside of the third and fourth issues, though, there’s nothing that is remarkably good either. It simply exists. You won’t be upset if you decide to read it — but you won’t be all that excited either.
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