It’s…average, neither stellar nor a failure. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect here. Obi-Wan and Anakin is set in the relatively unexplored decade between Episode I and II, and judging by Anakin’s appearance, this appears to be about five years into that period. Even before the Expanded Universe was aborted, not much was done with that period. The “Jedi Quest” young reader novel (and one comic miniseries) gave us bits of insight into Obi-Wan and Anakin’s early years, but most of the interregnum material tended to stay either just past the Episode I period or acted as prelude material to Episode II.
Unfortunately, we don’t see much of that in this opening issue to the story. In fairness, this is a five-issue arc, and writer Charles Soule can only introduce us to so much of the characters before the story ends and Marvel moves on to its next miniseries. What we do get, though, is pretty limited: the master and his padawan are stranded on some (supposedly) dead planet outside the jurisdiction of the Republic, responding to a distress call for a Jedi. There’s a little bit of tension in the story, as Anakin is apparently planning to leave the Jedi order for reasons which will probably be made clear in future issues. A mid-story flashback sequence (which is, unfortunately, a little disruptive to the main tale) shows Anakin struggling with his training and, more specifically, his anger–hinting at his fall to come.
This is not to say that Soule’s sense of the characters is off. He certainly knows how to lend a proper voice to the characters, with Obi-Wan resembling Ewan McGregor’s Episode II appearance as the calm, wise sage and a cameo by Palpatine having hints of the shifty politician of the films. Soule’s portrayal of Anakin is certainly a challenge, as he has to craft a character somewhere between Jake Lloyd’s annoying child and Hayden Christensen’s angry young adult.
Marco Checchetto’s art isn’t quite as good, and I say that with the knowledge that he had prior Star Wars experience on the Shattered Empire miniseries. His individual characters and scenery are acceptable (with his Anakin resembling a teenage Hayden Christensen with no hints of Jake Lloyd). However, at times his art is a little confused, such as a segment on the story’s second stage where it looks like something–an octopus, maybe?–is attacking the pair’s ship. It’s really not clear what we’re looking at. There’s some muddiness to some of his landscapes which contrasts badly with his drawings as well, including one scene with a burning airship which just looks out of place compared to the computer-enhanced colors. It’s not the best start to this series.
But mostly, the series is just sort of…there. Not much of consequence happens in what we’re given. Set some 25 years before Marvel’s main Star Wars titles, we know where these characters are headed, so the backdrop of some crisis on some unimportant world isn’t strictly compelling. This might have been an opportunity to explore Obi-Wan and Anakin’s relationship, perhaps showing us the transition from how the master came to accept his padawan since the role was forced upon him at the end of Episode I. That may come in future issues, but for now, it’s not the most persuasive story.
Rating: Two and a half whiney padawans out of five.
* OK, OK, the Kanan: The Last Padawan series makes heavy use of the Prequel Trilogy. I don’t quite want to count that series since it’s heavily derivative of the Rebels animated series which is, in itself, practically an Original Trilogy show. Let’s call Obi-Wan and Anakin the first “pure” Prequel series and leave it at that.