Darth Vader #11: Luke’s severed hand introduces possibilities for future Star Wars stories

Marvel's Star Wars: Darth Vader #11. Photo: Marvel Comics.
Marvel's Star Wars: Darth Vader #11. Photo: Marvel Comics. /

Warning! Spoilers for Darth Vader #11 follow below.

Marvel’s current run of Star Wars comics has been exploring the interim between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and by doing so, writers like Charles Soule and Greg Pak have been exploring uncharted territory in the more mysterious aspects of the Skywalker Saga. The current run of Darth Vader in particular has delved into the haunted mind of Anakin Skywalker as he copes with discovering not only that he has a son but that his son has rejected him.

Furthermore, in the last several issues, Vader has had to contend with his master’s latest abuse as a result of him daring to have his own agenda. Leaving him to survive the harsh environment of Mustafar, broken and forbidden to use the Force while being hunted by the Sith assassin Ochi of Bestoon, Palpatine has seemingly reached the end of his patience with his troubled apprentice. But Vader is no mere survivor; he ruthlessly grabs hold of every opportunity to come out on top, leaving endless destruction in his wake.

darth vader 11 comic
Marvel’s Star Wars: Darth Vader #11. Photo: Marvel Comics. /

Darth Vader strikes back

Though Ochi tries to hunt Vader with his own small droid army, Vader dispatches the droids easily enough and uses their parts to repair himself before capturing Ochi and using the Wayfinder he gained from the Eye of Webbish Bog to travel to Palpatine’s secret world of Exegol. Upon arriving on Exegol, Vader, finally pushed to the end of his willingness to accept Palpatine’s abuses, uses the Force to bring a large deadly creature from The Red Nebula under submission to attack his master. Palpatine, however, is, as always, one step ahead and easily defeats Vader.

The fate of Luke’s severed hand

Palpatine, instead of killing Vader, takes him on a tour through his Sith temple on Exegol, explaining his commitment to use pain to bring the Force into submission and create anything he desires. It’s here that a panel reveals that Luke’s hand, which he lost in his fight with Vader at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, is in a glass container full of some sort of liquid in Palpatine’s medical laboratory on Exegol. Apparently, Palpatine recovered the severed hand from Bespin somehow and kept it.

But what is he doing with it? That question has yet to be answered, and it may be an answer that we’ll be waiting quite a while for, but given the nature of the Star Wars universe and story, there is plenty of room for speculation.

What is Palpatine using Luke’s hand for?

We know that Luke’s midi-chlorian count is high as a result of the mighty Skywalker blood, and we also know that cloning has been a frequent element of the Star Wars universe. It’s easy to speculate that Luke’s hand might have been used in the creation of Palpatine’s cloned bodies or the creation of Snoke, but that also seems a little too obvious. That might neatly tie things up, but the revelation of Luke’s hand could also create opportunities beyond just saving Palpatine or creating Snoke.

A clone of Luke Skywalker?

In the Legends novel The Last Command by Timothy Zahn, Luke’s hand was used to create a clone of Luke known as Luuke Skywalker. Luke fought the clone and was nearly defeated until Mara Jade stepped in to kill Luuke. Disney has been known to borrow many concepts from the old Expanded Universe into canon, such as Grand Admiral Thrawn and the cloning survival of Palpatine, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine that Disney might develop a clone of Luke. In fact, given the prevalence of cloning technology in Star Wars and Palpatine’s frequent use of it, it seems likely.

“No one’s ever really gone”

A clone of Luke could introduce some interesting possibilities into the current canon. Could we possibly see Luke fighting against a clone of himself in a future Star Wars story? Of course, a clone of Luke wouldn’t necessarily have to be evil.  What if Luke or some version of Luke is actually still alive somewhere in the galaxy post-The Rise of Skywalker?  What if the strandcast of Palpatine that became Rey’s father was generated partly using the DNA from Luke’s hand, making her an actual Skywalker?

The possibilities are endless, but we’ll have to wait to see where Disney-Lucasfilm takes this plot thread next.

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