Star Wars: Was Palpatine Planning on Cloning Luke?

As witnessed in the original Star Wars trilogy, Darth Vader served as Emperor Palpatine's faithful apprentice, but as Luke Skywalker grew in power as a Jedi, Palpatine made it clear to Vader that he had hoped to recruit Skywalker as a Sith, a plan which ultimately failed. Despite Vader tossing him down a chasm on the Death Star II, Palpatine shocked audiences by returning in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, a feat made possible through the use of cloning, though the most recent issue of Star Wars: Darth Vader hints at Palpatine having a grand plan to clone Luke if he couldn't convince him to join the Dark Side.

WARNING: Spoilers below for Star Wars: Darth Vader #11

The current arc of Darth Vader focuses on Palpatine putting Vader's survival skills and commitment to his master to the test, sending him to Mustafar to survive without the help of his technological upgrades. With the book taking place between Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, readers knew he survived the ordeal, was the journey instead focused on the disturbing relationship between the two figures. Fans always knew that Vader directly served Palpatine, with this comic series depicting the Emperor ruthlessly testing Vader mentally and physically, confirming just how twisted that relationship really was.

Vader's quest to confront Palpatine results in his arrival on Exegol, who fans witnessed in The Rise of Skywalker was where Palpatine had constructed Snoke clones as well as a new body for himself. At one point in the latest issue, Vader walks past the various vats containing Snoke bodies, as Palpatine details that he could use his scientific discoveries to make nearly anything possible. Vader then notices one vat containing a severed hand, presumably the one Luke lost when he faced Vader.

star wars darth vader comic luke skywalker hand palpatine exegol
(Photo: Marvel Comics)

As with many of Palpatine's discussions with Vader, he spoke cryptically, leaving Vader and the reader to infer the true meaning of his words. In Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Anakin also lost a hand, with it being possible that the appendage in the vat actually belonged to Vader and that Palpatine was hinting that he could grow him an entirely new, unscarred body. However, the time frame of this series would make it more likely that the Emperor managed to recover Luke's hand from Cloud City as opposed to having obtained Anakin's hand from Geonosis and held onto it for years in secret.

Given Palpatine's seeming disdain for Vader, it would also seem more likely that his cloning discoveries would be used as a contingency plan if Luke managed to perish before he could officially embrace the Dark Side. Of course, with many more issues in the series to come, it's possible that fans will be treated to more reveals about the twisted connections between Palpatine, Vader, and Luke.

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Star Wars: Darth Vader #11 is on sale now.

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