New To You Comics #114: The Prequel’s Prequel In ‘Star Wars: Obi-Wan & Anakin’

by Tony Thornley

With the comics industry continuing to battle the effects of the pandemic, Brendan Allen and I are continuing to talk about comics that the other might not have read. I’m more of a capes, laser guns and swords guy, while Brendan loves dark magic, criminals, and things that go bump in the night. This week, we’re checking out Marvel’s ONLY series starring one of Star Wars’ most popular characters.

One constant in Marvel’s Star Wars line is that you could always find a miniseries starring a favorite character. The line kicked off with Princess Leia, then Chewbacca, and then Lando. It took a couple years before the line moved away from the original trilogy era, but when they did, it was with the most beloved pair of the prequel era.

Obi-Wan & Anakin is one of very few stories set in the decade or so between Episodes 1 and 2 of the Star Wars saga. Coming from Charles Soule, Marco Checchetto, Andres Mossa, and Joe Caramagna, the miniseries chronicles an adventure of the titular duo being drawn into a war on an uncharted world on the Outer Rim. However, the real story is the beginning of Anakin’s descent towards the Dark Side alongside Chancellor Palpatine…

Tony: I try not to do two books from the same publisher in a row, much less the same franchise. Regardless, with Obi-Wan starring in one of the biggest streaming debuts ever, I think we can give this one a pass?

This is a series I really enjoy, and that I think Marvel hasn’t done enough of. The decade or so between Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones is probably the least explored, yet most fertile ground for storytelling in the Star Wars universe (at least if you stick to the timeline of the Skywalker saga). This is really two stories too- one that’s purely there for the blasters and lightsabers and one that’s there for fascinating character development that the movies didn’t do enough of.

What did you think?

Brendan: It feels very familiar, which could go either way for me. The familiarity definitely fills a need for readers who just can’t get enough Star Wars stories. Anyone who has seen the prequels can instantly place the timeline and character dynamics. There’s no setup required at all.

On the other hand, it does feel a bit formulaic. With all the Star Wars movies, comics, streaming shows, novels… There aren’t a whole lot of original places to take these characters that we haven’t seen already, multiple times.

That all being said, this one felt more like a re-skinned Doctor Who episode to me than a Star Wars gig. 

Tony: Yeah, there’s two plots here- the steampunk-y fight on a previously unseen planet, and some flashbacks about the growing relationship between Palpatine and Anakin. The first one is really only remarkable for how well Soule writes the leads together, and the second one feels like it could have been a series of its own.

I’m not the biggest fan of the prequel era of Star Wars, but I am a huge fan of the Clone Wars series. About half of that is because Obi-Wan and Anakin are such a fascinating pairing (the other half is Ahsoka Tano). Honestly, as bad as the writing was in Clones and Sith, Lucas really wrote the interplay between the two pretty well too. Soule does a great job of continuing that here.

You see the beginnings of the brotherhood between the two Jedi. The relationship feels much younger, much less mature, but that’s because Anakin is maybe twelve or thirteen. Obi-Wan does have a brotherly relationship with his apprentice, but it’s very much older brother, not like the more peer-like banter it develops into. But again, you see the beginnings of what it’ll turn into.

Brendan: I’m not a huge fan of prequels in general. I think we’ve had this discussion, and you’ve probably heard my The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day rant a couple dozen times. I absolutely LOVE The Boondock Saints. It’s one of my all time favorite films. (I do hate that it has a credibly accused rapist in it, poorly acting in a throwaway role, but no one knew any of that at the time it was filmed.) But they have this amazing, mysterious, deadly badass character Il Duce. His mysterious origins are what half the film’s story is anchored on.

Then they go and make a prequel 10 years later, and give us a rehashed lame ass Godfather II, going back to the old country and explaining the old man’s origin. Ruined the first film for me for a good couple years. Every time I thought about watching the original again, it just pissed me off that the second one even existed.

If you’re going to do prequels, they had damned well better live up to the originals. The continuity has to be intact, at the very least. Obi-Wan & Anakin does its job in that regard. Drops right into canon and tracks for continuity. 

Tony: Yeah, it’s an interesting character piece with some prerequisite, but unremarkable, action set-pieces. This is a mini that probably would have been better as a 12-24 issue series from a story standpoint. Then the “we have to have at least 8 pages of lightsabers an issue” wouldn’t have been as necessary.

But holy crap, it’s a GORGEOUS book. I’d say it’s probably worth it for the Checchetto line art alone! We talked about his work when we talked about the first volume of the current run of Daredevil, and I’d say this is as good if not better, and it comes earlier in his career! Mossa’s colors are really cool too, especially in the Coruscant scenes.

Brendan: I don’t know if I agree that this could have been dragged out for 2 years, but it is a pretty book. Likenesses are hard, especially with a cast as well known and instantly recognizable as this, and Checchetto nails them. Action sequences (as frequent and drawn out as they are) are dynamic and easy to follow. 

Tony: Yeah, he’s got a great eye for action. What you say about likenesses is interesting too. Anakin actually feels like Jake Lloyd growing up into Hayden Christensen. It’s kind of subtle how he does it, but it makes the transition believable.

So what did you think?

Brendan: It’s a lot better than I expected it to be. I honestly wasn’t looking forward to this one much, but it didn’t take long to change my mind. There’s just so much Star Wars stuff out there. It kind of surprises me when something comes along that’s good that exists completely outside the movie timelines and established events. Formulaic and clichéd to hell, but definitely decent.

It does feel a lot like a Doctor Who episode in disguise, but I’m a big fan of Doctor Who, so cool?

Tony: Yeah, it’s got a weak plot, but a pretty great character piece and fantastic art.

So what’s up next?

Brendan: I’ve been wanting to do From Hell for a while, and I see that there’s a newer colorized edition available now. I’m interested to see whether the color adds to or subtracts from the impact of the original, so let’s do the From Hell Master Edition from Top Shelf Productions, by Alan Moore with pictorial revisions and color by Eddie Campbell

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