Welcome back everyone! Over the last two weeks I have been discussing how the Battle of Yavin impacted the Star Wars galaxy. I have been focused on the Empire, looking at how Imperial leadership was impacted and discussing the beginning of Darth Vader’s removal from his master. This week, I want to shift gears and focus on the original trilogy’s protagonist: Luke Skywalker.
At the end of A New Hope, Luke Skywalker is guided by the voice of the late Obi-Wan Kenobi to tap into the Force and use it to help him shoot a proton torpedo into the Death Star. The next time we see Luke on the big screen (“Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back”), Luke is able to tap into the Force to telekinetically bring his lightsaber to him. How does he learn to do this? Let’s discuss….
So, first of all, Luke’s Jedi teacher, Obi-Wan Kenobi, is dead at the hands of Darth Vader. Kenobi was the only real source of information about Jedi and the Force that Luke had. After the Clone Wars, the Emperor made being a Jedi a criminal offense, punishable by death, and any information or remains of the Jedi were either destroyed or confiscated for his own personal collection. So how does Luke train to become a Jedi when merely mentioning the Jedi has become taboo?
Heir to the Jedi: Lightsabers, Love, and Noodles
The novel Heir to the Jedi gives us a first-person view into Luke’s journey to learn the ways of the Jedi. Through this novel we gain insight on four major points that are important in Luke’s self-training (reminder: this blog is not a spoiler-free review, so read at your own risk):
- Living with voices in your head is hard. During the Battle of Yavin, Luke hears the late Obi-Wan Kenobi’s voice telling him to use the Force. At the time Luke just rolled with it, but afterwards Luke began to question his sanity a little. Not sure what to do about the voice of the old desert wizard in his head, Luke decided not to think about it too much and focus on assisting the Rebellion on their mission to destroy the Empire.
- Using the Force is hard. Throughout the novel Luke attempts to move various objects using the Force. Luke is finally able to attain a small measure of success after moving a noodle across a table in what may be the least impressive feat of Force sensitivity seen in all of canon. Luke had trouble moving noodles, so it’s no wonder he couldn’t un-sink his X-Wing in The Empire Strikes Back.
- Building lightsabers is hard. During a trip to Rodia where he was purchasing weapons for the Rebellion, Luke meets a Rodian whose uncle was a Jedi knight who fought with Anakin Skywalker in the Clone Wars. The Rodian entrusts Luke with her uncle’s lightsaber. Luke, eager to learn about the construction of these mystical weapons, but hesitant to break his own toys, takes apart the Rodian’s lightsaber. However, deep understanding of the Force is necessary to construct a lightsaber and Luke was unable to repair it once he took it apart. Way to go Luke, you just destroyed one of the last remaining pieces of Jedi history. However, he did in a way learn some information about the parts that go into building a lightsaber, but that is information I’ll go over in a future post.
- Love is hard. There’s a reason the Jedi Order had a non-attachment policy. During Heir to the Jedi, Luke develops feelings for a woman named Nakari Kelen. On a high-stress mission, Luke has a moment where he is able to tap into the Force, describing the sensation of being able to feel where every person and object is in the surrounding area. He attempted to stop a thermal detonator heading toward Kelen, but is unable to. When the detonator explodes, he feels Nakari’s presence vanish, replaced by a feeling of darkness and cold. He immediately shirks away from this feeling, believing that there is something wrong with it. I take this to mean that as Nakari Kelen died, his feelings of attachment turned to feelings of sadness and anger, which is a good way to find yourself traveling down the path of the dark side. Luckily for the galaxy, Luke was able to resist the dark side’s pull.
Luke’s Failure at Weapons Factory Alpha
I have mentioned the Rebel mission to destroy the Imperial Weapons Factory Alpha in earlier posts. During this mission, Luke finds a large amount of slaves. He attempts to use a Jedi mind trick on the slave driver and just completely fails. However, he does show some promise at wielding a lightsaber, as he is easily able to disarm the slaver (quite literally, in true Star Wars fashion).
This lightsaber skill is not quite up to par with an experienced duelist. When word gets to Luke that Darth Vader has arrived, he decides to face the man who killed his father (or so he thinks) and his teacher. On his way to confront Vader, the voice of Obi-Wan reaches him through the Force, imploring him to run away from the dark lord. Does Luke listen? Of course not, listening to the wisdom of a mentor is not the Skywalker way.
This face-off between Luke and Darth Vader is a major moment. For the first time in canon, Luke and Darth Vader meet face to face, neither knowing their father-son relationship. Surely Luke Skywalker, brave hero of the Rebellion who destroyed the Death Star with a single miraculous proton torpedo, pulls off a majestic win and leads the Alliance to victory.
He barely even puts up a fight.
It was actually pretty embarrassing for everyone involved.
Darth Vader easily Force grabs Luke’s lightsaber (which he recognizes was his, before his fall to the Dark Side) and is just about to strike him down before a plot device in the form of Han Solo in an AT-AT saves Luke’s life. Luke is able to escape with his lightsaber and live to fight another day.
After Luke’s failure during the destruction of the Weapons Factory, he gets back to training, but continues to be pretty terrible.
In order to learn more about the Force and continue his Jedi training, Luke returns to Tatooine to search Obi-Wan’s home for anything useful he can find. After a skirmish with Boba Fett, who was hired by Darth Vader to find the pilot who destroyed the Death Star (see last week), Luke left with an old journal of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s he found in a box marked “For Luke.”
Kenobi’s journal is mostly filled with stories of Obi-Wan’s adventures on Tatooine between the Clone Wars and the beginning of “A New Hope.” However, there is also some information about the location of various Jedi temples. This leads Luke to Nar Shaddaa, the Smuggler’s Moon, in hopes of hiring someone to take him to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. Instead of finding a pilot, he instead finds himself captive of Grakkus the Hutt, a collector of all things Jedi.
Grakkus the Hutt
Grakkus first tests Luke by bringing him into his collection room and handing him a Jedi holocron, which he explains can only be opened by one who is strong in the Force. After Luke accesses it (and all the other holocrons in the room) by tapping into the Force, Grakkus assigns his game master to train Luke to fight with a lightsaber. He explains that Luke is going to die in an underground gladiator fight, billed as the death of the last Jedi. In this way, Luke is trained to better handle a lightsaber.
He is eventually rescued by Han, Leia, and Chewbacca (all of whom end up wielding lightsabers in one of the coolest scenes in the comics), which leads the comics into the story arc Vader Down, which I think I have covered in enough detail already. I will mention that Luke was at Vrogas Vos because of information qabout a Jedi temple found in Obi-Wan’s journal, so I suspect we will see more of Luke’s training as the comic series continues.
Luke’s attempts at self-training to become a Jedi is constantly met with failure. However, so far we have seen Luke begin to understand the mysteries of the Force and gain more training in lightsaber fighting. It’s a humble start, certainly, but it makes the completion of his training in Return of the Jedi all the more glorious. Again, this post is only current up to Marvel’s Star Wars comic issue 15, so I expect to see a lot more of Luke’s training in the future, which will probably result in another blog post in the future.
So far in this blog I have been focused on summarizing stories from canon. Next week I want to change it up a bit: I am going to do a post where I discuss Sheev Palpatine, from Naboo senator to Galactic Emperor. This post will collect information not just from one storyline but from essentially all of the Star Wars franchise. It’s a daunting task, but one I’m looking forward to tackling. Once again, thank you for reading, and may the Force be with you.