In original plans for the sequel trilogy, the severed hand of Luke Skywalker would be the first thing we saw. And even though that idea was ultimately scrapped, it now seems possible that Luke’s hand could re-shape how we view the sequel trilogy altogether.
That’s all coming from a recent issue of Greg Pak’s great Darth Vader comic series, as in Darth Vader #11, Vader finally learns the Emperor’s secrets on Exegol in a highly-anticipated issue, which serves as the conclusion to this current arc.
This article will contain quite a bit of speculation, as there’s nothing concrete revealed in the issue, but nonetheless, there are a few images (and one in particular) that have really gotten Star Wars fans wondering. And if it’s actually what many think it could be, it would serve to be one of the most significant reveals ever for a Star Wars comic, one that has significant implications on how we view Snoke and the sequel trilogy.
As Vader discovers his master’s secrets on Exegol, he learns of Palpatine’s efforts at cloning, he learns of Palpatine’s massive Sith fleet, and he learns about a massive kyber crystal – among other things. In all of this, he seems to come to realize that he can’t beat his master, even though it seems that he’s still left wanting to by the end of the issue. Palpatine is, by all intents and purposes, seemingly unbeatable. As the Sith Lord says again in this issue, he has “unlimited power.”
We knew about a lot of this already, though seeing Vader learn about it is very significant. However, there’s one panel that shows us a brand-new image, and it’s of Vader looking at a severed hand in a jar, as part of a look at Palpatine’s cloning efforts.
Now, it’s never explicitly stated in this issue, but it certainly seems to be leading us to think that it’s the severed hand of Luke Skywalker – since, after all, there’s not another hand that would be even remotely relevant to both Vader and the reader. And so I understand that all of this is based on the crucial bit of speculation that this is actually Luke’s hand, but it seems plausible – and it seems that this issue wants us to think of that too. And since we know that others came to possess the lightsaber after the events on Cloud City, it’s logical that the same could be said of Luke’s hand. And, if that’s the case, of course Palpatine would be the one to get it.
So assuming that this actually is Luke’s hand, it means that Vader is learning that Palpatine has the potential to be able to attempt creating clones of the young Skywalker. It could be nothing more than a veiled threat at Vader to show what his master is capable of, but it’s also possible that it’s something more.
Because we know that Palpatine was actively working on cloning, such that he needed a clone body to serve as a host for him. He obviously had them ready to go by the events of Return of the Jedi, and we see in the background of these panels what look like different creations (which actually look like the ones seen in The Mandalorian… more on that in a moment). We also know that Snoke was a clone, as seen in The Rise of Skywalker. We always knew that Palpatine was trying to create clones of himself – but since we already knew that, what’s to cause him to stop at just himself? Why not try to clone others? Like, say, Luke Skywalker?
Palpatine wanted Anakin Skywalker as his apprentice, but the fallen Jedi was badly wounded and confined to a suit. He still possessed remarkable power, but Palpatine was disappointed. By the events of ROTJ, he’s seemingly wanting Luke to take his father’s place as his new apprentice. Presumably, in Luke, Palpatine sees all the potential of a young Anakin, just without the confines of Vader’s suit. And we also know that Palpatine is never one to put all of his eggs in one basket, so all the while he’s trying to get Luke to turn, it makes sense that he’d also be trying to create a clone of the young Jedi Knight. That would be possible, theoretically, if he came in possession of Skywalker’s hand.
And so here’s where we get to the real speculation, which could have real big implications: what if Palpatine tried to create clones of Luke but couldn’t manage to pull it off perfectly? It’s straight out of Legends to have Palpatine wanting to inhabit a clone of Luke (or Luuke, I should say), and one would think that a clone of Luke would present the prime candidate for such a host body. It really doesn’t seem like Palpatine succeeded at doing this if he tried it, though, so perhaps there were failed attempts… and what if that’s what Snoke is?
What if Palpatine tried to create a host body for himself by cloning Luke, but wound up with Snoke instead? That would have huge implications, since Snoke was partly behind luring Ben Solo away from Luke Skywalker in the first place, and then training Kylo Ren – it would mean that in more ways than Ben knew, he couldn’t escape the legacy of his uncle even as he tried to let it all die. And it would also help explain some of the comments from Snoke elsewhere, where he attributes his wounds to Luke Skywalker. If he was a failed clone of Luke, it makes more sense why he’d blame Luke for his deformities – especially under Palpatine’s influence. It seems that Snoke was a failed strandcast, and what if that test was using some of Luke’s DNA?
If this is the direction that Star Wars decides to go, it also would tie in one other thread as well. Because if Palpatine were trying to clone himself and clone Luke – two of the strongest Force-sensitive beings in the galaxy – why not add another? Like… Grogu? As a member of Yoda’s species, who all seem to be strong with the Force (all three we know of so far have been), Palpatine would surely be intrigued by such a specimen. But by that time, Palpatine is confined to a broken body on Exegol, having survived a hasty and messy transfer of his essence. So perhaps he enlists others, as part of the Imperial Remnants, to continue on his experiments and acquire new specimens.
I mention this link because, in the issue, the figure in the vat behind Vader looks awfully similar to the figures in the vats on Nevarro in The Mandalorian – which, if intentional (and of course we have to think it is), suggests what many assumed: that Palpatine was probably behind the sinister cloning machinations in the show. This could tie in to future storylines in a big way, especially if they delve more into the Imperial Remnants with a character like Thrawn, as has been hinted.
So yes, I realize that this entire article is speculation based on one image of a severed hand – but I don’t think any of it is all that crazy, based on what we know now. And if I’m reading some of these things correctly, this comic issue could have huge implications on the way we understand other Star Wars material. Heck, even if Palpatine just has Luke’s hand and is doing nothing with it, that’s a big enough reveal! And then to think of what it could mean and where it could lead, there are all sorts of possibilities – and they’re incredibly intriguing!
I really don’t expect to get much by way of confirmation either way anytime soon, but what do you think?