I got behind on covering the The Age of Rebellion comic series by Greg Pak, so I’m gradually going to be catching up, beginning today with the issue on Luke Skywalker.
This issue focused on an adventure the young Jedi had in the period in-between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and it shows that Emperor Palpatine was tempting Luke even then.
A Rebel strike force is on a mission to retrieve fuel, and they are relieved when Luke Skywalker arrives in his X-Wing to provide much-needed support against the security droids. Luke, wearing the black clothes and wielding the green lightsaber we see in ROTJ, leads the charge and makes quick work of the droids. The major, however, is distrustful of Luke, because the only person he knew of who wielded a lightsaber like that was Darth Vader.
As the rebels prepare to leave, Luke senses something. Unbeknownst to him, Palpatine was reaching out with the Force to tempt the young Jedi. As Luke flies his X-Wing in support of the transport, he senses something and urges the major to jump to hyperspace – something that is rejected, at which point an Imperial Star Destroyer arrives with TIE Fighters. Palpatine uses this rejection to further tempt Luke, leading him to a vision where he walks away from it all. In this vision, the rebel transport is destroyed and Luke flies off to an unknown planet, crashing his X-Wing in the waters and leaving his lightsaber behind. Luke helps and befriends some villagers, and we then discover that he’s an old man with a family, still living life on this planet with R2.
Snapping out of the vision, Luke comes to the aid of the rebels, much to Palpatine’s frustration. Luke orders the rebels to evacuate and heads off to find the major, who is prepping his shuttle. The major reveals that he’s going to try to draw the Imperials away, so Luke volunteers to fly the shuttle. He successfully creates a diversion for the other rebels to escape, and afterward he allows the major to receive all the credit. Luke had resisted the Emperor’s temptations.
This story fits in nicely with the timeline between ESB and ROTJ, as it shows Palpatine tempting Luke – something that only intensifies as it leads to the climax of ROTJ. But what I find particularly interesting about the temptation seen in this comic is that it’s something that Luke will actually continue to be tempted by his entire life, and which he eventually will give in to for a period of time.
The Last Jedi novelization begins with Luke Skywalker’s dreams about a different life, one where he married Camie and settled down to a quiet life on Tatooine, having never left the planet. Of course, because Luke never left the planet, the Empire still reigned, the Princess was executed, etc. It was nothing more than a dream Luke had while on Ahch-To shortly before Rey arrived, yet it was a way to show that perhaps Luke was still tempted by the “what if” of a quiet life with a family. That’s similar to the temptation seen here: Luke settles down to a quiet life on an unknown planet with what appears to be his wife and kids. That’s the temptation, and it doesn’t appear to ever really leave him for the rest of his life.
But even more interesting is the fact that Luke actually seems to give in to this temptation decades after this comic. The scene of Luke arriving to this planet looks a lot like what we’d expect his arrival on Ahch-To to look like, just with R2 with him in this vision. Luke crashes his X-Wing in the waters and looks over it atop a cliff, while he leaves his pilot’s helmet and green lightsaber behind on the cliff.
Snoke knew that the key to his success was removing Luke Skywalker from the game at a pivotal point, and he succeeded in doing that, manipulating the events leading up to the sequel trilogy to the point that Luke left everything, crashed his X-Wing in the waters, and went away. So what’s interesting to think about is the fact that perhaps Snoke’s temptation wasn’t new but was simply building on Palpatine’s. And since Palpatine will have a presence in The Rise of Skywalker, I’m really curious to see whether the Emperor had a more influential role than we might have even realized in removing Luke from the board right before the Resistance-First Order conflict.