Warning: SPOILERS for Age of Republic: Obi-Wan Kenobi
The latest Marvel Star Wars comic, Age of Republic: Obi-Wan Kenobi, has revealed just how Obi-Wan failed Anakin as a master... and unwittingly ensured his student would fall prey to Palpatine's manipulation.
The fall of Anakin Skywalker and the birth of Darth Vader has always been one of the central plots of the Star Wars saga. Obi-Wan Kenobi has always blamed himself for his hubris and pride, and his belief that he could tutor a Padawan like Anakin Skywalker. And yet, the early days of their training have rarely been developed. Attack of the Clones is set at the tail-end of Obi-Wan's time as Master to Anakin, and in The Clone Wars the focus is upon Anakin as a Master himself, attempting to train Ahsoka.
So far, the Star Wars story has largely avoided showing just what kind of a Master Obi-Wan really was to his Padawan. That makes the Age of Republic: Obi-Wan Kenobi one-shot pretty vital.
It's set shortly after the events of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, at a time when both Obi-Wan and Anakin are getting used to their new relationship. Anakin can't help but sense that Obi-Wan is uncomfortable with him, and suspects his Master feels as though he was forced into this. After all, he's only taken Anakin on out of a desire to honor his late Master. Obi-Wan, for his part, doesn't feel pride or arrogance; rather, he suspects that he's unworthy of the task. He blames himself for the death of his own Master, and (rightly) believes that Qui-Gon Jinn was the Jedi Master Anakin needed, and doesn't see how he could do anything other than make a mess of mentoring Anakin.
It seems that, in those early days, Obi-Wan was reluctant to take his Padawan with him on missions. He left Anakin behind on Coruscant, training with the other (younger) Padawans. As the comic reveals, it was Master Yoda who pushed Obi-Wan to actually take Anakin out on to the field. When Obi-Wan argued that his Padawan needed to continue developing in his knowledge and skills, Yoda agreed, but had a simple counter; "But his master's belief in him, he also needs." Yoda won the argument, but here's the catch: when talking with Anakin, Obi-Wan subtly reframes the truth of that decision. "Master Yoda agreed it was time," he tells Anakin - implying, although not overtly stating, that Obi-Wan had confidence to begin with, and that the Jedi Council had backed him.
It's a subtle falsehood, casting Obi-Wan as the man who's on Anakin's side, and the Jedi Council as the ones he needed to get the approval of before he could give Anakin what he wanted. Obi-Wan has always been famous for telling truths "from a certain point of view," and this is perhaps one of the most skillful lies he's been shown deploying to date. At the end of the issue, of course, the story's resolution sees Obi-Wan admitting a few genuine truths about his own flaws to his Padawan; but he allows this particular lie to remain unchallenged.
Though the Jedi Master didn't know it, even at this early a stage he was shaping the way Anakin Skywalker would relate to the Jedi Order - and, specifically, to the Jedi Council. He was unwittingly sending a message that he, Obi-Wan, was the one Anakin could trust - and that the Jedi Council were obstacles to be overcome. Obi-Wan himself was planting the seeds of doubt in the Jedi Order that Palpatine would water. And not as a result of his arrogance or pride, as he would later tell himself; rather, because he wasn't confident enough in himself or in Anakin, and wasn't honest enough to admit it.
Star Wars Age of Republic: Obi-Wan Kenobi is on sale now from Marvel Comics.