While the one-shots released in Marvel’s Star Wars Age of Resistance series have been hit or miss so far, Snoke’s issue stands out as a powerful, impactful study of his relationship with Kylo Ren.
This article contains SPOILERS for Star Wars Age of Resistance: Snoke and discusses issues related to physical and emotional abuse.
There’s been a lot of buzz about this week’s new Age of Resistance release. Some leaked panels and story revealed that it would touch on a very dark side of the relationship between Snoke and Kylo Ren.
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And it did.
The story itself is simple enough at surface level. Snoke takes Kylo to Degobah, to the same cave where Luke Skywalker (Kylo’s uncle) had a vision of killing Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. Kylo sees both Luke and his parents.
Clearly, Snoke is trying to drill the same “lesson” into Kylo as Kylo mentions to Rey: let the past die. Kill it if you have to.
But the story’s implications run much deeper than that — especially one scene in particular, when their ship arrives on Degobah and Kylo wants to bring his mask to the cave.
Snoke smacks Kylo, sending the mask flying. It crashes to the floor. As we do, we can see in his face, all of Ben Solo’s hopes and dreams.
It’s this page that made me stop. This is the one that held me in place. I normally like to breeze through comics on the first run-through, to catch all the visuals, to absorb the story. But this page broke that ritual. It may have broken me.
Admittedly, it’s Kylo’s face when Snoke tells him to leave the mask behind that stings. It’s the way he’s holding it, clutching it — not as a weapon or even an accessory but as a child’s prized possession.
What did you keep close when you were young? A blanket? A teddy bear? A toy truck or action figure? Kylo Ren’s mask is Ben Solo’s teddy bear. He doesn’t want to leave home without it.
This is not a comparison meant to call Kylo Ren immature or imply he is a child trapped in a man’s body — at least, not in the “he really needs to grow up” kind of way. I’ve been guilty of poking fun at his “temper tantrums” in the past, even here. But this comic has really changed the way I look at him. That’s the point.
Kylo Ren is not an unstable, unpredictable soul because he is “evil” or because he refuses to grow up. He is this way because he has been hurt.
He lashes out because he knows no other way to cope.
Snoke trained hatred and violence into his apprentice. We know this. But this is the first time we have seen the extent to which Snoke has manipulated Kylo to depend on the dark side — and on him — for sustenance.
Yell. Demand. Take away the things that matter most. Separate them from those they once loved. This is by the book abuse. I think we can all forgive Kylo’s temper tantrums, knowing he has suffered immensely standing beside his master. (Not all things Kylo Ren has done can be forgiven, but let’s set that discussion aside for now.)
This makes the scene in The Last Jedi where he destroys his mask a lot more powerful. He’s not just doing it for the sake of dramatic effect. He’s trying to destroy the past, and all the negative feelings and memories associated with it. All the darkness and negativity Snoke created as a means of controlling him.
There are other signs Snoke has deeply damaged him — you can see Kylo flinch in the background during The Last Jedi when Snoke sends Rey’s lightsaber flying around the room, hitting her in the head. You can read deeper into these signs, you don’t have to.
But it’s hard to ignore it when we’re given material like this comic.
Snoke recognized that Kylo was strong in mind like the rest of his family, and wouldn’t be easily manipulated. He went to great lengths to make sure Kylo felt he had no choice but to follow him.
I’ll continue this discussion of manipulation and abuse in another post — understanding what Kylo Ren has gone through in detail can change the way we watch the movies and our predictions for the end of the story.
This comic, however, proves at least one thing: That they can, and should, use this series to continue giving us more in-depth looks at who these characters are and what has made them that way. A lot of people brush off comics as quick, fun stories — and they can be. But they can also show you things from a larger story you may have missed. And absolutely break your heart.
We’ll see more of Kylo Ren’s story in his one-shot in two weeks. If you read it, do so remembering where he has come from. You just might see him in a completely different light.
Does this comic change the way you look at Kylo Ren? How much more do you hate Snoke now that you’ve seen him at his worst? Share your thoughts with us. And go hug your loved ones.