Supreme Leader Snoke was an enigma from his holographic introduction in The Force Awakens to his cut-off ending in The Last Jedi. Though Star Wars has made good on the great unknowns teased throughout the big-screen trilogies, be it in later episodes of the Expanded Universe, Snoke might be a character who goes to the grave with the most unanswered questions. Who was his master? How did he become “supreme leader” of the First Order? What inside knowledge did he hold over Ben Solo to lure him to the dark side?
December’s The Rise of Skywalker may have a few answers, but with Emperor Palpatine cackling in the shadows, there may be bigger fish (“there’s always a bigger fish...”) for Rey to fry.
Luckily, there’s Marvel’s new run of Age of Resistance comic books, which spotlight essential character moments in the run up to writer-director J.J. Abrams’ Episode IX. Age of Resistance - Supreme Leader Snoke #1 hit shelves today, and while it’s not a brisk walkthrough of how Mr. Snoke arrived to his position of power — has writer Bryan Young sizes up in the book’s essay, “all of [the burning questions] are a mystery. Perhaps they always will be.” — it’s a crackling read from writer Tom Taylor and artist Leonard Kirk, one that gives us glimpse of his early days training Kylo Ren, and a pivotal moment that worthy of the Star Wars history books.
[Ed. note: the following contains spoilers for Age of Resistance - Supreme Leader Snoke #1]
Supreme Leader Snoke #1 takes us back before the events of The Force Awakens, and finds Snoke grilling his boy Kylo for being filled with emotion. Hard to blame him: The Dark Side drill sergeant’s techniques include hovering Kylo over a cliff and dropping him on to a bed of spikes. But Snoke fans the fire of Kylo’s fear. He wants him to be confused, lash out. He wants him to harbor rage, so he can mold it into an attack. It’s everything Jedi are told not to do.
“Anger, fear, aggression — the dark side are they,” Yoda said in Return of the Jedi. “Once you start down the dark path forever will it dominate your destiny.” Snoke can only hope.
The battered apprentice clings to his mask, which Snoke sees as his ultimate weakness. Darth Vader was the past. The First Order is the future. Likely knowing Anakin was eventually turned back to the light, this agile version of Snoke hopes to kick Kylo’s fanboy habit.
Supreme Leader Snoke #1 is a slow ascent to some Star Wars-worthy substance that won’t infringe or spoil on whatever Abrams is cooking up for Rise of the Skywalker, but the one-off finds footing in a moment that evokes both early Kylo and the one we left off with in The Last Jedi.
How Snoke knew about Dagobah’s “Cave of Evil,” used by Yoda in Empire Strikes Back to help Luke Skywalker “confront” Darth Vader, is one of the mysteries we don’t expect answers to, but he and Kylo wind up on the foggy planet for their own vision quest. In the cave, Ben Solo comes toe to toe with his own adversary: Luke Skywalker.
“Strike,” Snoke commands.
The inverse of Yoda’s spiritual journey is an abusive struggle, and one Kylo can’t shake. His clash with the metaphysical form of his mentor leads him deeper and deeper into the numbing fold of the Dark Side, and Snoke is there for every swing of the saber, whispering corrosive advice in his apprentice’s ear.
Kylo discovers a few more familiar faces in the cave, but that’s better left for readers to discover. Just know that when the fight is all over, Kylo’s force powers are no match for the Dagobah’s self-reflecting hole in the ground. The whole thing frickin’ explodes.
“That cave had stood for thousands of years,” Snoke says. “I hoped to bring other apprentices to it.”
“You won’t need other apprentices,” Kylo fires back. We know this to be true. Nor will Kylo, if the end of The Last Jedi — and the end of the Cave of Evil — is any indication.
Next for the Age of Resistance roll out: Rose Tico #1 and Rey #1 on Sept. 18, then Kylo Ren #1 on Sept. 25.