In Marvel’s Star Wars: Age of Resistance – Kylo Ren #1, the former Ben Solo accomplishes a feat that Darth Vader couldn’t.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Wars: Age of Resistance — Kylo Ren #1 by Tom Taylor, Leonard Kirk and Phil Noto, in stores now.
Star Wars: Age of Resistance — Kylo Ren #1 introduces a snarky veteran Stormtrooper who served under Darth Vader, the warmongering, expansionist species the Benathy, which the Sith Lord failed to crush decades earlier, and the return of the indestructible Zillo Beast from The Clone Wars animated series, which they worship as a god. Well, make that worshiped.
The Zillo Beast is a plated dragon-like creature whose scales are immune to virtually everything, including lightsabers. They were believed extinct until the Republic woke one on The Clone Wars in the Battle of Malastare. Anakin Skywalker subdued one with great difficulty. He brought it to Coruscant to be studied; Chancellor Palpatine was particularly interested in investigating the properties of its scales, probably because he was trying to determine how to safely encase the energy derived from the Death Star’s kyber crystal core.
Because the scales couldn’t be detached from the Zillo’s body without killing it, Palpatine ordered the creature’s death. And in true monster-movie fashion, the Zillo escaped and rampaged through the streets of Coruscant. Being intelligent, the Zillo’s objective was not to destroy everything he saw, but to kill Palpatine.
Dave Filoni, the creator of The Clone Wars, said the Zillo Beast could probably sense that Palpatine was a Sith and plotting something nefarious. Sadly for the galaxy, Republic gunships put down the creature forever with poisonous gas. However, instead of disposing of its carcass, Palpatine ordered Doctor Sionver Boll to clone it.
It is unclear whether the Zillo Beast in the Kylo Ren comic is one of these clones, or one born in the wild. One way or another, this Zillo Beast has moved up in the galaxy relative to its ancestor; Instead of being a prisoner, this Zillo has established itself as the Benathy’s god, assisting them in battle when they call.
As the Benathy are an expansionist species that appreciates power and size over everything else, chances are this Zillo was leading a pretty comfortable existence until the arrival of the First Order troops. Kylo quickly dispatch the Benathy leaders after they insult him, provoking their ground armies into a no-holds-barred attack.
So, of course, the Zillo comes to their aid, placing the First Order troops in a bind. Unlike the Clone Wars‘ Malastare campaign Stormtroopers, the First Order isn’t equipped with the necessary tools to bind the Zillo Beast through the gaps in its plated armor.
Although they probably could deploy poisonous gas as the Republic did, that would have killed their own troops, too (in The Force Awakens, Finn said Stormtrooper helmets have air filters but are not prepared for poison gas). As Captain Ruthford points out, the last time that Vader faced the Benathy, thousands died on both sides, and winning a pyrrhic victory against a formidable enemy shouldn’t be based on a one-sided competition with a dead man.
However, for Kylo Ren, everything is a competition with Darth Vader. So, he improvises a plan on the spot. Despite Ruthford’s negative feelings about it, Ren commands his shuttle to take him to the jaws of the Zillo Beast, at which point he jumps inside, taking advantage of the one thing the Benathy did not respect: his (relatively) small size. If this sounds like a signature Solo move, it’s because it is; the ability to turn a perceived weakness into a strategic advantage and to dive head-first into the belly of a beast are two things that Han Solo does time and time again in the original trilogy.
Anyone who’s seen a hero-gets-eaten-by-monster episode of a series will know the Zillo is about to suffer terrible indigestion. Yet, that doesn’t detract from the exhilarating moment when Kylo Ren emerges from the creature covered in blood and orders the Benathy to bow to him and the First Order. Nor does it take away from the newfound, albeit snarky, respect of Captain Ruthford. For all intents and purposes, Kylo Ren has surpassed his grandfather, ending the battle before too many lives are claimed and establishing the supremacy of the First Order over the Benathy forever.
Of course, there’s also the implication that Kylo Ren just surpassed one of Palpatine’s most important enemy hits, and it turns the story on its head. Is it really a win that the Zillo Beast is gone? Yes, the Benathy were conquering worlds, but so was the First Order. Could this incursion have been influenced by the (supposedly) deceased Emperor to ensure this antagonistic space dragon would be out of the way for his comeback?
Bea is a European transplant currently living in Toronto.
You can endure her shameless self-promotion by joining her five Twitter followers at @BeaCaicoya.