Somehow, Emperor Palpatine has become scarier. 43 years after he debuted as a hologram in The Empire Strikes Back, we’ve now seen the extent of one of his most devastating abilities. It appears the dark lord was a truly terrifying force in Star Wars lore.
The revelation comes from Star Wars: Darth Vader #40, where the Star Wars villains Darth Vader and Palpatine have a standoff. In the story, part of the Dark Droids comics event, Vader has become part of the Scourge (a hivemind that infests mechanical beings), leading an army of Star Wars droids to Coruscant to bring down the Emperor.
They have an epic duel, with the Scourge drawing on Vader’s resentment towards the Emperor as a cruel mentor. In an ironic twist, Palpatine becomes Coruscant’s defender, having to stand against Vader’s advances. The Star Wars characters go at it, with Palpatine choosing only to use Force Lightning to counter Vader’s lightsaber, and it’s more than enough.
In a sweeping maneuver, not only does Palpatine go through Vader, he shocks all the robots in league with his Sith apprentice in a massive shockwave.
The force lightning we see in Return of the Jedi might be limited to just Luke Skywalker, but rest assured Palpatine is capable of wiping out whole armies if he needs to. The scene, engineered by the creative team of Greg Pak and Raffaele Ienco, adds to the mystique and grandeur of Palpatine.
The version we see in Return of the Jedi was him hidden away and arrogant, only facing Luke. What we don’t see across the Star Wars movies in order is the oppressive leader, the one who kept the Galactic Empire in lockstep to his will, occasionally using the force if needed. That’s what we really see here – an occasion where his force powers were required to retain order.
Recently, this same comics event demonstrated Vader’s own deep knowledge of the force, where he created limbs for himself when the Scourge reached Mustafar. Between these two scenes, it’s clear the Sith’s ultimate agenda is self-preservation, using the force to whatever ends are needed.
I’m not sure if we’ll see anything like this in a new Star Wars movie, but I know I’d be very into the idea. The darker side of the galaxy has made some Star Wars series great, especially Andor. In fact, the Andor season 2 release date is probably my most anticipated in the franchise.
It’s a good time to be a Star Wars fan. But if you’d like something a bit lighter, our guide to Avatar 3 will keep you informed on James Cameron’s burgeoning universe.