The Last Sci-Fi Blog: Marvel's 'Obi-Wan & Anakin' Will Make You Love the Prequel Era

The Last Sci-Fi Blog: Marvel's 'Obi-Wan & Anakin' Will Make You Love the Prequel Era

May 05, 2016

There is nothing more tired and trite than taking to the internet so you can talk about how much you hate the Star Wars prequels. We’ve been doing it for over a decade. We’ve beaten this dead Tauntaun for as long as and as hard as any other subject in the history of popular culture. Everything that can be said about the failure of George Lucas’ return to the beloved universe he kickstarted in 1977 has been said. There is nothing left to add to that discussion.

However, it turns out that there is something to be said about learning to enjoy the prequel era, even if you still despise the prequels. All it took was one good comic book miniseries.

When Marvel announced a miniseries titled Obi-Wan & Anakin, I honestly felt disappointed. I felt like Marvel was letting me down. After all, they had been killing it with the rest of the recent Star Wars comics. The flagship series, simply titled Star Wars, is a delight. Their Darth Vader series is twisted and weird and just about perfect. The various other miniseries, focusing on characters like Leia, Lando and Chewbacca, had ranged from good to wonderful. And now they were going to dip their toe into prequel territory? Really?

But here we are, four issues into a five issue series, and Obi-Wan & Anakin is as good as the rest of Marvel’s Star Wars comics. Heck, it’s significantly better than any of the prequels, taking a setting that had repelled me on screen and finding a way to make it sing to an original trilogy lover. It turns out that I don’t inherently dislike the prequel setting. I don’t mind the shinier, cleaner aesthetic. All it took to make me want to learn more about this spot on the Star Wars timeline was characters and character relationships I give a damn about.

As the title implies, Obi-Wan & Anakin follows the Jedi master and his apprentice on an adventure. This particular adventure takes place between the events of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, with the future Darth Vader a young teenager following his mentor on a mission to respond to to a request for aid from an isolated planet. They arrive, realize that the entire planet is suffering the long terms effects of a massive, civilization-shattering war, and must navigate a post-apocalypse filled with dueling tribes. It’s like writer Charles Soule and artist Marco Checchetto dropped two Jedi into an icy Mad Max story and the results are killer. Meanwhile, the story occasionally flashbacks to Coruscant to explore Anakin’s trials at the Jedi Temple and his new friendship with a certain Chancellor Palpatine.

Stripped of the artificiality that permeated the prequels, this world is allowed to live and breathe. For the first time in my experience, the dynamic between young Anakin and Obi-Wan proves fascinating. He’s the stoic teacher, well on his way to being a master Jedi. But his student, as promising and powerful and smart as he can be, is not sure of his path. Tempted by shortcuts presented by Palpatine, this young Anakin has the weight of the universe on his shoulders. Does he actually want to be Jedi? It seemed like a good way out of a crummy life a few years ago, but it’s not working for him now. It’s not a good match. Maybe he’s meant for something different?

Much of Obi-Wan & Anakin is a sprawling adventure tale filled with action and suspense and lightsaber battles against vicious monsters. It’s science fiction adventure at its finest, told with confidence and wit by its creators. Tonally, it’s not quite original trilogy and it’s certainly not the prequel trilogy. It is its own thing, separated from the cinematic universe in small but vital ways. With one issue left, I find myself hoping that Marvel returns to the prequel era again and offers more creators the chance to mine this territory for its hidden gold. I enjoyed this series so much that I finally took the advice of many friends and started watching the Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series. Time will tell if I enjoy it on the same level, but it’s a start. I may end up truly embracing the prequel period despite the movies.

Categories: Features, Geek
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