WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Wars: Age of Resistance - Supreme Leader Snoke #1, by Tom Taylor and Leonard Kirk, on sale now.
Marvel’s Star Wars: Age of Resistance - Supreme Leader Snoke #1 drops the reader into the heart of the First Order. In the first panel, Snoke asks his "opponent" whether he’s afraid, and the next page reveals that he's holding none other than Kylo Ren over a ragged crystalline cliff, the young warrior being held up only by his master's immense Force powers. The physical and psychological abuse heaped on members of the First Order shouldn't surprise anyone who has seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but Snoke's methods seem a lot more extreme than those of Darth Sidious.
Snoke’s comprehensive curriculum sees him taking Kylo Ren to various Force Planets, including Dagobah. He does so with the express purpose of forcing his newly-minted apprentice to enter the same cave where his uncle and former master, Luke Skywalker, confronted his shadow. Snoke calls Luke a "formidable Jedi," which surprises Kylo. However, the powerful Dark Side users explains, “He has earned my respect… and my fear. He is not weak. He is misguided. If I had your uncle by my side instead of you, the Galaxy would have been mine a long time ago.”
He then forces Kylo Ren to enter the tree-cave to confront his greatest fears under the thick, curling roots of the oldest tree on Dagobah. Inside, Kylo finds and kills a vision of Luke. However, Snoke forbids him from exiting the cave just yet: Killing Luke was the easy part.
The real test takes the shape of Han and Leia as Kylo remembers them: Han, with silent regret and love deeply sketched in his face, and Leia, as Ben Solo’s desperate mother begging him to come back to them, assuring her son of their love and reaching out to hug him. Kylo recoils from Leia’s touch.
All the while, Snoke eggs Kylo on to ignite his lightsaber, overcome his struggle and do what needs to be done. Surrounded by roots and shadows, and clearly divided between his love for his parents and the promise of power that Snoke is pressing on him, Kylo decides to sever the roots of the Force tree instead of slashing his parents. He emerges from the cave not through the entrance, but by uprooting and ripping the entire tree into the air and leaving only a crater with shallow black water.
Whereas Kylo manages to find a creative (although temporary) solution for his dilemma, Snoke is too blinded by hubris to realize that Dagobah is also testing him and his fears. Snoke fears Luke, but the person who will eventually kill him stands right before him. In a way, Snoke's fear blinded him to what was going on before his eyes, and that's the mistake that would eventually cost him his life.