The best Star Wars stories, no matter how long, work well on their own, even when designed to be a part of a larger story. It's a story telling style establishe in Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back and we've just seen it continued in The Force Awakens. But how does issue one of Obi-Wan & Anakin fair...
In issue one we are, as with all Star Wars stories, thrown into an adventure that's already started. Anakin ant his Jedi Master are on their way to rendezvous with a fleet when they crash land on a planet. Obi-Wan tells Anakin that the inhabitants wiped themselves out generations before, through their preoccupation with war.
We start to get tones of disillusionment from Anakin. He seems frustrated that the powers that be in the senate, and the Jedi would allow a society to completely annihilate itself in such a way. This is where we get some real world intrusion on our story as Obi-Wan informs Anakin that the planet had little to offer the senate and so the senate had little interest in its wellbeing. There's plenty of foreshadowing here, of Anakin's naivety, his childlike view on things, a desire to have things be fair. We see this quality later in Star Wars Episode II Attack Of The Clones when Anakin insists that someone should make people do the right thing. It might just be me but there seems to be a commentary of the nature of foreign policy just below the surface here.
There is a flashback to the Jedi temple, specifically to Anakin's Lightsaber training that shows he has an admiration for Obi-Wan following his duel with Darth Maul and we also get a beat that focuses on Anakin's temper. Palpatine is featured in this flashback, observing Anakin as he duels a droid dressed in a holographic projection of Maul. Anakin is deliberately trying to impress here, but over hears a comment from two other students and has a bit of a melt down, threatening the students with their own weapons. Obi-Wan has to intervene to prevent things escalating, and Palpatine sees this as an opportunity to gain access to Anakin. This is the first sign of Palpatine using the weight of his office to force the Jedi to do his bidding. Palpatine instructs Mace Windu, in no uncertain terms to send Anakin to him so that he might assist in training the boy to chill, basically.
Anyway, we get a glimpse at some remnant of the society and Anakin goes of to explore. There is some discussion about the signal that brought them to the planet, that it may be an older Jedi signal. There's a skirmish between unknown factions 'above the clouds' and then Obi-Wan and Anakin save a crashing craft of some type. Two people jump from the craft and challenge the Jedi, which is where this chapter ends.
I'm not sure this issue works alone, which is fine, but I found the loose ends, like Anakin's apparent desire to leave the Jedi Order to be too vague. It might work later, when all the issues can be read together, but right now, there are too many gaps. The relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin is captured really well, especially Obi-Wan's "voice", I can imagine Ewan McGregor in these scenes.
I found the art to be a little distracting. The dependence on splash pages, with tiny characters talking in the corners, seemed to require guided view (which is fine on a tablet) but I prefer to read the whole page at once. There are also panels that may have been better served from a wider composition to allow for clearer illustration of character action, like Obi-Wan dropping behind Anakin on the planet. I'd like to know what's going on quickly when there is no dialogue. In fact the art direction seems to fail the story from page one, as the Jedi eject from their ship. There should have been a clean indication what was happening as the page is largely dialogue free, and the actions are unclear. I like the illustrative representations of the characters though.
All in all, I'm a little disappointed. I've been looking forward to this mini series for a while, and really wanted to review it here. I'll continue to get the entire run and review as we go. I'm also planning to resist it at the end and re-evaluate it as a complete work.
You can pick up Obi-Wan & Anakin on ComiXology..
Thank you for reading,