Supreme Leader Snoke teaches the young Kylo Ren the ways of the dark side of the Force. But is Kylo ready for the challenges that lay ahead?
This article contains plot points from Age of Resistance: Supreme Leader Snoke.
The most recent addition to the Age of Resistance series is a one-shot penned by Tom Taylor with art by Leonard Kirk about Supreme Leader Snoke. Inks are by Cory Hamscher, colors by GURU-eFX, letters by VC’s Travis Lanham, cover art by Phil Noto, the editor is Mark Paniccia, and assistant editor is Tom Groneman. Not a single woman involved (c’mon Marvel). This issue takes a disturbing look at a young man whose sole need is to be loved and to be allowed to love himself. However, Snoke uses Ben’s despair to raise him as his apprentice. The title may say Supreme Leader Snoke, but it’s more about his relationship with Kylo Ren, and it’s not a healthy one.
The relationship between Snoke and Kylo Ren is a disturbing case of a verbally abusive master and a young man that is looking for acceptance anywhere he can. I’ll be using Ben and Kylo intermittently; Kylo when he is associating with Snoke—Ben when he is struggling with his past.
I am by no means a psychiatrist, so I’m not about to diagnose what he’s going through within himself, with his parents, or Snoke. But, as a person who can have moments of self-doubt, I can try to give some clue as to what might be going through his mind (great now I’m comparing myself to Kylo Ren).
Snoke and mirrors
The story opens with a full-page close up of Snoke’s deformed visage asking Kylo, “Are you afraid?” Such great detail in Snoke’s facial tendons by Kirk! In The Phantom Menace, Yoda asks young Anakin, “Afraid are you?” Both Anakin and Kylo deny their fear. Both masters know they’re both lying.
For someone who has low confidence, anything a person can say can be taken as a personal attack, even if it’s not intended that way because these thoughts twist interpretations into such attacks. Perhaps Ben felt so neglected, he thought he didn’t deserve the love of his parents. Snoke saw this vulnerability and took the boy in as his apprentice. And Ben, looking for someone to take him as he is, reluctantly accepted Snoke as his guardian of sorts. Ben feels weak; inferior and thought Snoke was the parent he deserved, the person to make him stronger.
The next page shows Snoke holding Kylo off a cliff with the Force then lets him drop. Expecting his master to use the Force to stall his descent. When he realized that wasn’t going to happen, in the act of self-preservation, Kylo saves himself at the last minute before hitting the ground much like Leia using the Force to save herself from the vacuum of space.
Ren gets Snoked
The little detail in Kirk’s art is really satisfying; great art tells a story in itself. Snoke sees Kylo pick up his mask as they depart for Dagobah. In The Last Jedi Snoke called the mask ridiculous. Here he tells Kylo to leave the mask and then hits Kylo knocking the mask out of his hands, accusing Kylo of pretending to be Vader.
The mask is a symbol of another attempt at taking on a new identity. Kylo is curious about the darker side of humanity, and who better to look towards than the alter ego of his grandfather, Darth Vader. He admires Vader because Vader was feared, powerful, and respected. Kylo dresses in black and dons the mask believing his outfit is enough to make him feel stronger. But it takes more than a similar outfit to be as strong as Vader. As Rey suspects, he’s afraid that will never happen.
Snoke and the Cave
As they arrive on Dagobah, Kylo can sense Luke’s presence. Snoke begins to speak of his reverence for Luke which confuses Kylo,
He is weak.
He is not weak. He is misguided.
Kylo’s degrading remark is only a reflection of his own self. Snoke is old enough to know that respect for an enemy is vital in defeating them.
Snoke brings Kylo to the dark side cave, the same cave Yoda brought Luke. Before entering the cave, Luke asks:
What’s in there?
Yoda replies, Only what you take with you.
Mirroring that bit of dialogue, Kylo asks the same question to which Snoke replies,
Only what you’re not too weak to bury.
Yoda is referring to what is in Luke’s mind. His mental state. His fears. The dark side feeds on fear—it draws it out. The cave turns fear into reality. How you handle them is up to you. Hence the vision of Vader, obviously Luke didn’t respond to that as well as Yoda would’ve hoped. And neither did Kylo who not only had one but two visions, first of Luke and one of his parents, Han Solo and Leia Organa.
The cave; in you must go
Perhaps Kylo struck down Luke’s image because he doesn’t have the same connection he wished he had with his parents, so it was easier for him to strike. But he can’t kill his parents (yet) because, despite his self-hatred, he knows his parents love him, but he won’t allow himself to believe it. So he destroys the tree instead, a display of anger and frustration taken out on inanimate objects; something he was keen on doing in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
After Kylo kills Luke, he believes he is ready. A lot of students think they’re prepared after succeeding for the first time. Snoke is quick to quell his over-confidence. Kylo goes from feeling despair to readiness because he succeeded in killing an image of his former master. That’s how low Kylo was. When Kylo faced Luke on Crait, he was ready and eager to destroy Luke once and for all. Kylo’s power has increased exponentially at this point. He defeated Snoke. Yet it all comes crashing down again when he realizes that the Luke on Crait was just another false image. One can only imagine with all he has gone through from his initial apprenticeship with Snoke to Crait, and Kylo fails at defeating Luke.
Only one apprentice
After Kylo destroys the dark side cave, he declares Snoke won’t need to teach any more apprentices. He is starting to accept Snoke’s lessons, his connection to his past (parents and Luke) are frayed at best. Kylo feels like he is changing internally. Kylo is so desperate to become powerful in the dark side, he’ll do anything to please Snoke. All the while, Kylo knows eventually he will kill Snoke. Even so, Kylo doesn’t care about becoming a master, his only goal is to become stronger; that’s all he wants, to improve his self-perception. But he is going at it in the worst possible way.
Snoke teaches Kylo by verbally abusing him, taunting him, insulting him. Snoke’s lessons are a dark reflection of Yoda’s. Instead of building him up, Snoke breaks down Kylo to a point where all Kylo needs or knows is Snoke. It’s the Stockholm Syndrome StarWars-style. It’s not only his parent’s love that he doesn’t think he deserves but also Luke’s lessons about the Force. Ben feels resentment for his parents and that his projected at Luke, not only because of his Jedi heritage but of his association with Ben’s parents.
Supreme Leader Snoke. The intergalactic man of mystery. So little is known about him. Where did he come from? How did he know about Vader’s true identity? Is he somehow linked to the Prime Jedi? Where was he during the Galactic Civil War? How did he learn about the Force? If you’re looking for those answers within the pages of Age of Resistance: Supreme Leader Snoke, you might be disappointed. However, Tom Taylor has written a captivating story that takes a peek at Snoke’s treatment of a young Kylo Ren.
Age of Resistance: Supreme Leader Snoke is one of the most intriguing titles in the Age of series. It delves deeper into the parasitic relationship between Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren. Even though this story doesn’t tell us much more about Snoke’s backstory, what it does give us is some insight into Ben’s state of mind that made him so defenseless against Snoke’s manipulation.
Hopefully, someday Lucasfilm will gift us with some material that will reveal who Snoke really is, and where he came from. Until then, he remains the Wizard of Oz.