One of the more dramatic retcons that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker established was making Snoke a puppet of Palpatine all along. “I have been every voice you have ever heard inside your head,” Palpatine says early in the film, transitioning from his own voice to Snoke’s and then to Darth Vader’s to really drive that point home. “I made Snoke!” Then we see a few Snoke clones growing in a vat, implying that the Supreme Leader was always just some kind of artificial humanoid alien created and used by Palpatine.
A new canon comic, however, complicates matters by trying to make Snoke even more of his own person. Has Star Wars become the war of the retcons? And which version of Snoke are we supposed to believe?
Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren #2 was released Wednesday, and in it, we see more of Ben Solo’s visit to Snoke that began in the first issue. After he flees from the destruction of Luke Skywalker’s Jedi academy, he heads straight to some small space station that’s a floating greenhouse of sorts. There, Snoke admits that he was not born “Snoke.”
If he was not born Snoke, then who was he before? We’re meant to see an obvious parallel between Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker, between Ben Solo and Kylo Ren, the idea that to fully embrace the Dark side, a person has to cast aside their original identity and become something new.
This makes it seem like he’s not just an empty vessel controlled by Palpatine, assuming he’s telling the truth about being somebody other than Snoke at some point. Was he a sentient person that became Snoke when he embraced the Dark side, and then Palpatine took control over that body and cloned it? Or are we supposed to believe this is Palpatine saying these words through Snoke’s mouth and lying? Something doesn’t quite add up here.
All this talk of names comes up when Ben Solo complains about the legacy of his own name. There’s “Ben” after Obi-Wan Kenobi, the fake name assumed by a famous Jedi he never even met, yet another reflection of the lofty expectations of his legacy. Then there’s “Solo,” the fake surname assigned to his father by an Imperial soldier. To Ben Solo, both of his names feel like a lie.
“Who will you become?” Snoke asks Ben Solo. The way of the Dark side is to embrace this new identity, and The Rise of Kylo Ren is setting up an inevitable confrontation between Ben Solo and Ren, who at this point in time leads the Knights of Ren. He’s not around for the new trilogy, so Ben Solo will probably have to kill him by the end of this series and assume his name.
This isn’t even the first time that The Rise of Kylo Ren writer Charles Soule has adjusted Snoke’s story in surprising ways. In The Rise of Kylo Ren #1, Ben Solo says, “Snoke … look what Master Luke did to you.” Ben Solo has known Snoke for a long time, and Snoke’s scarring is due to some kind of attack from Luke. However, in The Rise of Skywalker, the Snoke clones on Exogol also have the scarring. That’s not how genetic engineering works.
There’s always the possibility that everything Snoke says in these comics is just Palpatine lying so he can manipulate Ben Solo, but these comic books seem like they’re overcomplicating Snoke’s identity in ways that are hard to grasp.
Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren #3 will be released February 12, 2020.