Supreme Leader Snoke attempts to push his apprentice to his limits in Star Wars: Age of Resistance – Supreme Leader Snoke #1. The test reveals plenty about Kylo Ren.
Warning: This article contains plot points for Star Wars: Age of Resistance – Supreme Leader Snoke #1
Star Wars: Age of Resistance – Supreme Leader Snoke #1
Story: Tom Taylor | Pencils: Leonard Kirk | Inks: Cory Hamscher | Colors: Guru-eFX | Lettering: VC’s Travis Lanham | Production Designer: Anthony Gambino | Cover Artist: Phil Noto | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia
Ask Star Wars fans about Supreme Leader Snoke, and many of them would tell you that they want to know more about the mysterious Supreme Leader of the First Order. Where did he come from? How did he get his power? Why did Kylo Ren swear allegiance to him? These are all intriguing questions about one of the most enigmatic characters from the sequel trilogy. Yet, none of these questions are answered in Age of Resistance – Supreme Leader Snoke #1. Instead, Snoke’s methodology in sculpting his pupil is on display. And, so are his weaknesses. While Snoke features in Snoke #1, this story has even more to say about Kylo Ren. Snoke #1 is a compelling tale that underscores Kylo’s actions in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi and while under Snoke’s tutelage.
Strike or Fall
In Snoke #1, the Supreme Leader needs a few things from his apprentice. First, he needs to learn if Kylo is capable of harnessing his fear, channeling it into rage, and then unleashing it as power. To arrive at his answer, he throws Kylo off a cliff. Kylo does exactly what Snoke hoped and turns his fear into anger, and anger into power to save himself. Snoke even confesses he wouldn’t have saved Kylo if he couldn’t. That would have held him back. He seems to echo one of Kylo’s unspoken complaints about Luke: he was being held back. This also echoes Anakin’s complaint about Obi-Wan. Their masters, or former masters, stifled their development, or so they thought.
En route to their next destination, Kylo and Snoke have a brief confrontation. Snoke commands Kylo to leave his mask behind. Kylo begins to object, and Snoke gives him a backhanded smack with his enormous, black diamond ring. He then chastises Kylo that he can’t hide behind a mask where they are going and pretend to be Vader.
Snoke’s admonishment in Snoke #1 is very telling. Kylo is using the mask as something of a security blanket. Behind that mask, he isn’t Ben Solo. Behind the mask, he can pretend to be Darth Vader or some other Sith. He isn’t the son of Princess Leia and Han Solo. His legacy is not that of the heroes of the Rebellion. He can turn his back on the light and do the terrible things that Snoke commands him without betraying who he is. Kylo was wearing this mask in The Force Awakens when he beseeched the spirit of grandfather, Anakin, to show him the power dark side once again. He felt the pull of the light. He wore his mask in part to hide from it.
Need more evidence? Read on.
A Conversation on Luke and Fear
Snoke wasn’t done with Kylo’s training after the cliff. He next takes Kylo to Dagobah. Once they arrive, Kylo immediately senses Luke Skywalker’s presence from when he trained there with Yoda. This leads to an interesting and telling conversation between Kylo and Snoke. Snoke speaks of Luke with respect, and Kylo doesn’t understand why. Kylo dismisses Luke as weak, but Snoke disagrees. He tells Kylo that Luke isn’t weak, he is misguided. Snoke goes so far as to label Luke as “one of the most formidable Jedi.” Furthermore, Snoke boldly proclaims that with Luke’s assistance “the galaxy would have been [Snoke’s] a long time ago.”
Snoke is unafraid to admit that he fears Skywalker. By contrast, Kylo has always had difficulty honestly admitting his fears and emotions. Snoke #1 begins with Kylo denying his fear while Snoke holds him over the edge of a cliff. Kylo likely sees such an emotion as weakness, but Snoke works to disabuse him of that notion. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate afterall. The Sith fueled their power with hate. So, apparently, does Snoke.
Another note on fear: Kylo isn’t the first person in the Skywalker line to deny fear. Yoda once chastised a very young Anakin about his fear of losing his mother. When Anakin asked what that had to do with anything, Yoda told him it had to do with everything. For fear was the first step to the dark side, which in Yoda’s mind, was to be avoided. When Luke traveled to Dagobah, Yoda initially resisted training him, and Luke attempted to persuade Yoda by stating he wasn’t afraid either. That response had to send shivers up Yoda’s spine. He instantly retorted that Luke would be. He would eventually send Luke into the cave to confront fear, among other things. Both Yoda and Luke needed to know how he would react.
Snoke’s concerns about fear run to the contrary of Yoda’s. He needs Kylo to embrace the fear. It powers the dark side. It is an ally to Snoke.
Kylo’s next trial in Snoke #1 is at the cave. Yes, this is the very same cave that Yoda sent Luke to in The Empire Strikes Back. In Star Wars, caves are places of mystery and foreboding. Yet, they are also places of discovery. Luke got a taste of the dark side of the Force and the dangers of striking out of fear when Yoda sent him there. Later, on Ahch-To, Rey found herself in a cave. While there, she had an unusual experience where she encountered countless images of herself standing before a mirror. She hoped to learn the identity of her parents, but all she saw was a reflection of herself. What exactly that means is hard to decipher, and it likely won’t be clear until after The Rise of Skywalker. Regardless, caves, although dark, are places of self-discovery.
So it is too for Kylo Ren. Yoda advised Luke that when he entered the cave, he would find only what he took with him. For Luke, that proved to be a bit of foreshadowing. He was rash. Luke saw a vision of Darth Vader, and he attacked. He was susceptible to his emotions and the dark side of the Force. Snoke puts a twist on this for Kylo Ren. When Kylo asks what is in the cave, Snoke responds, “Only what you have been too weak to bury.” Then an odd thing happens.
Kylo is confronted with a vision of Luke Skywalker. This is a great contrast to Luke’s own experience. Luke confronted a vision from the dark side in Darth Vader. Now, Kylo gets a vision from the light side in Luke. Kylo must have been elated. Snoke just told him that Luke was what he was too afraid to bury. Naturally, Kylo believed otherwise. He quickly ignites his saber and attacks while Snoke eggs him on with statements about how Luke feared Kylo and his power, how Luke would have murdered him in his sleep, and finally with encouragement to rise above what holds him back. Kylo does as his master encourages and strikes the vision of Luke down without a moment’s hesitation.
Something bears mentioning here. In that specific moment, might Kylo have believed that he actually killed Luke in this moment? Luke has been in hiding after all. However, Kylo knows that Luke was here before, and that suggests Luke told him about his experience on Dagobah and potentially hinted at the cave. Chances are that he knew he destroyed a vision. To Kylo’s surprise, his test isn’t over.
The Second Test
Kylo’s fight with the vision of Luke was just a warm up for what was to come. Snoke #1 then throws a curve at Kylo when he is confronted by his parents: Princess Leia and Han Solo. They beg him to stop, and remind him that his name is Ben even when he protests it isn’t. They remind him of their love for him. However, Kylo’s heart appears to harden. Then Snoke whispers to Kylo and pushes him to defeat the struggle within and kill the connection to his past. Snoke seemingly reads Kylo’s mind as his lightsaber ignites and he strikes.
However, the results weren’t as Snoke presumed. Kylo destroyed a nearby tree out of anger. The vision of Han and Leia remain. Yet, Snoke believes that Kylo destroyed his parents and killed his connection to the past. He is pleased. Before he can view Kylo’s handiwork, Kylo destroys the cave in an immense show of power.
This scene in Snoke #1 is a great cipher for moments from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. The key is that Ben Solo couldn’t destroy his parents, destroy his connection to the light side of the Force, and kill his past. Snoke told him before he entered the cave that he would find what was holding him back and that he needed to bury it. Kylo indeed found what was holding him back, but he didn’t and couldn’t bury it. Luke was never holding Ben back. In fact, Luke was a source of anger for Kylo, and that anger fueled his power with the dark side of the Force. No, what was holding back Kylo was Ben Solo’s connection to Han and Leia. If he kills them, there is no going back, and Kylo can’t convince himself that is what he wants.
Split to the Core
In The Force Awakens, Han confronts Kylo Ren on Starkiller Base. Just like Snoke, he tells Kylo to take off the mask. Kylo asks him what he thinks he will see, and he says, the face of his son. Han seems to know that without the mask, Kylo really is Ben. Snoke knew this too. Kylo tries to deny his past and tells Han that Ben Solo is dead. He was weak and foolish (like his father). Han rightfully points out that is only what Snoke wants him to think and that Snoke is simply using him for his power.
Snoke knows there is still a conflict in Kylo. It proves very difficult to destroy. Kylo and Ben are almost two different people. With the mask, Ben becomes Kylo. Snoke told Kylo he couldn’t pretend to be Darth Vader on Dagobah. As long as he had the mask, he could essentially hide from his deeds and misdeeds. That is an added factor for Ben when he murdered his father.
Kylo told Han that he knew what he needed to do, but he didn’t have the strength to do it. Indeed. Snoke #1 showed that when Snoke commanded Kylo to kill his parents and destroy his connection to the past, he couldn’t do it. Instead, Kylo resorted to a trick to make Snoke think he had done it. Furthermore, when Ben finally did murder Han, it split him to his core. Snoke chastises him for this in The Last Jedi. Killing Han didn’t separate him from his past. It made him conflicted. That conflict arose when he had the opportunity to fire on the bridge of the Raddus and destroy Leia. He couldn’t do it then either. He also didn’t have his helmet to hide behind. After Snoke’s chiding, Kylo destroyed it in a fit of rage. Kylo was moving beyond Ben Solo. When the time came to pull the trigger though, Ben Solo couldn’t do it.
Even when Kylo destroyed Snoke in The Last Jedi, the conflict didn’t die with him. Ben Solo wasn’t redeemed. Kylo didn’t return to the light. However, Kylo still feels the pull to the light that he sought guidance from Darth Vader about. As evidence, look no further than Kylo’s reaction to finding the Force projection of Han’s dice that he hung from the bridge of the Millennium Falcon and the searching, remorseful expression on Kylo’s face when he sees Rey through the Force for the last time.
Finally, Snoke #1 shows that although Kylo might not have been as powerful as Snoke in the ways of the dark side of the Force, he still had one way of getting the best of his master: deception. Kylo could never fully hide his thoughts from Snoke, but he learned how to mask his intention. When Snoke thought Kylo was turning the blade on Leia and Han, Kylo projected confidence in a decision to destroy his parents. However, it was all a mask for his true action in destroying the nearby tree.
This power later served Kylo well when he confronted his master in the throne room of Snoke’s ship, the Supremacy. When Snoke thought he read Kylo’s thoughts and his intent to kill Rey, Kylo was really masking his intent to destroy Snoke with Rey’s lightsaber. Kylo’s time on Dagobah was really a testing ground for the technique. It must also be said that this technique is successful because it preyed on Snoke’s blind spot. Snoke knew that Kylo was eager to take up the legacy of Darth Vader. He also knew that Kylo saw Snoke as a gateway to the power of the dark side and that legacy. Therefore, Kylo was eager to please Snoke, but Snoke made the mistake in interpreting Kylo’s actions and thoughts as those of compliance to Snoke’s will.
Final Thoughts on Snoke #1
Even though Snoke #1 arguably gives the Supreme Leader more attention than either of the sequel trilogy films, it doesn’t really answer that many questions about him. Snoke #1, like General Hux #1, relies heavily on Kylo’s presence. Snoke #1 has a lot more to say about his pupil, Kylo Ren. The biggest things that readers learned about Snoke were his respect and fear of Luke Skywalker and that despite his insight into Kylo’s character, Snoke had a blind spot to at least one of Kylo’s talents. That blind spot eventually got Snoke killed.
Despite Kylo upstaging Snoke in his own book, Snoke #1 is a fine tale. For readers that couldn’t completely understand Snoke’s disdain for Kylo’s mask in The Last Jedi and why he thought Kylo had demonstrated weakness, a careful reading of Snoke #1 helps illuminate some of those mysteries. Snoke #1 concludes with Kylo misdirecting his master one last time. Snoke offered a mild objection to Kylo’s destruction to the cave. He had hoped to bring other apprentices there. Kylo confidently responds that Snoke “won’t need other apprentices.” Snoke interprets this as a sign that Kylo destroyed his link with the past and would ascend to become the apprentice Snoke desired. Alternatively, Kylo was likely telling his master that Snoke wouldn’t need other apprentices because Kylo would one day destroy him.
Dennis Keithly is a graduate of the University of Missouri, North Texas attorney, husband, father of two, and co-host of Starships, Sabers, and Scoundrels. In addition to Star Wars, Dennis is a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and super heroes in general. When not engaged in fictional universes, Dennis is reading a good book or watching the NHL, football, or studying the NFL draft.