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This May, Obi-Wan Kenobi will get his long-awaited Disney+ original series, featuring Ewan McGregor's return to the role for a tale of the Jedi Master's years out in the Tatooine desert. Before that happens, though, Marvel Comics will introduce readers to even more untold tales from Kenobi's life with Star Wars: Obi-Wan, a five-issue miniseries from writer Christopher Cantwell (Iron Man, The Blue Flame) and a series of artists beginning with Ario Anindito (Star Wars: The High Republic) launching on Star Wars Day, May 4.
But unlike the new live-action series, which will focus on a very particular time and place in Kenobi's life, Marvel's Obi-Wan has the freedom to span Obi-Wan's entire Jedi career, beginning with his time as a youngling at the Jedi Temple before he met his eventual Master, Qui-Gon Jinn. Each issue of the comic will cover a different adventure from a different period in Kenobi's life, beginning with an issue #1 tale of an eight-year-old Kenobi launched into an adventure in the Coruscant underworld. He's not yet the Jedi he'll grow to be, but as Cantwell explained, writing Kenobi at any age means focusing on certain aspects of his character that have always been there.
"I think Obi-Wan, regardless of age, has certain indelible traits," Cantwell told SYFY WIRE. "He’s incredibly loyal, and has shown deep connection to certain people in his life. I also think he is honor-bound, but willing to push boundaries when need be. Part of that he likely learned from Qui-Gon, but a lot of that in my opinion is intrinsic. I think these are things that would be present in Obi-Wan from an early age. I remember certain perspectives or feelings when I was eight. And I also watch my own eight-year-old son and know he’ll be seeing certain things and bringing certain perspectives to situations in a similar way for the rest of his life. Some things are already hard-wired in. Obi-Wan’s 'hard wired' traits are what we see in this story."
In the exclusive pages below, you can get a peek at what Anindito has done with Obi-Wan at an age in which we've rarely seen him, as he leaps into action against some of Coruscant's less upstanding citizens.
"Ario is first and foremost a pro, and brought the series to life immediately with incredible detail," Cantwell said of his artist. "He also did an eight-year-old Obi-Wan that doesn’t have the advantage of being immediately recognizable as one of the two actors to play the character. But his Obi-Wan is instantly just crystallized, and I bonded to him just as I have the other incarnations I’ve seen over the years. There are actually different artists for each issue, which is exciting, and they each bring their own unique voice to the different stories, which all fall in different eras, with different tones and genre elements."
The stories all emerge from a flashback framework, as the Obi-Wan of the "Old Ben" era of his life attempts to record some of his memories in old leather-bound journals while holed up in his Tatooine hut. That meant that Cantwell, a lifelong Star Wars fan for whom A New Hope is a touchstone, got to spend some time writing in the classic voice of the character first brought to life by Alec Guinness. But the anthology nature of the tale also allowed him to visit Obi-Wan in many different phases, creating a deeper fondness for other eras for the character.
"We explore some intense moments of the Clone Wars that are new," Cantwell said. "I was always fascinated with that period ever since Leia mentions it offhandedly in her recording. To me, it had to be formative for him, considering how vast the conflict was, and how intense. It’s been explored really well already in newer work, but it was very interesting to tell stories from that era. He’s also about my age in those stories, so I probably ended up bringing some of my own perspective into him in those issues—those times when you realize things are not as simple as they seemed when you were younger and are instead infinitely more complex."
And of course, writing an anthology book with a rotating team of artists meant it also fell to Cantwell to unify the Obi-Wan stories in some way. They're all set in different eras, and they all have different things to say, but they all have to feel like Star Wars to both the writer and the reader.
"The characters and themes to me are what make Star Wars so enduring," Cantwell said. "Yes, it has an incredible amount of wonderful ephemera and accoutrement, and the 'world' of it is basically endless. But it’s the themes of Light vs. Dark, both within and without, that draw me in again and again. Classic heroes and their turmoils. The tone is also extremely important. Sincere without being self-serious, charming without being glib. Star Wars has all the hallmarks of the most classic serial sci-fi and fantasy stories. You kind of have to be true not just to what Lucas originally did (and all the subsequent work done by the collective of artists that followed) but also things from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s that he drew inspiration from. Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and the like. Even elements of Universal horror in there."
Obi-Wan #1 arrives May 4 with a tale of Kenobi's earliest years as a Jedi. Issue #2, with art by Luke Ross, arrives in June, and will feature the Obi-Wan's years as apprentice to the legendary Qui-Gon Jinn. You've seen them as a duo before, thanks to The Phantom Menace, but Cantwell and Ross have something a little different planned for this adventure.
"We’re going to see Obi-Wan as a padawan, which means we’re going to see him with his master, Qui-Gon," Cantwell said. "But I think the story is unexpected. I mentioned Universal horror earlier… I tried to bring a good dose of that into Issue #2."