WARNING: The following article 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 one-shots have elaborated on characters such as Poe Dameron, Vice Admiral Holdo, General Hux and even Finn, filling in the blanks for arcs we couldn't get in the two Skywalker Saga movies so far since director J.J. Abrams rebooted the franchise in 2015.
With the Supreme Leader Snoke story, however, clues have been dropped that could tie into widespread speculation regarding the villain's true identity. While we didn't get confirmation of his past or overall origin story, this historical trial at Dagobah's cave also plays into current theories following the Episode IX teaser, hinting that as per long-standing rumors, Snoke may well be Emperor Palpatine.
For months now, fans have posited that Palpatine's sinister laugh in the trailer, along with subsequent confirmation he was returning since being killed in Return of the Jedi, could be tied to Snoke. They thought he possessed Snoke or Snoke was a warped clone of his years ago. However, after Kylo Ren killed his master in The Last Jedi, that speculation seemed to crawl to a stop.
But once Palpatine was announced for the new film, theories started pouring in linking him to Snoke, and certain pieces of dialogue in this comic apparently back those ideas up. Firstly, Snoke tries to rile Kylo by making him think that he's not as good as Luke Skywalker in battle and makes it clear that he would already be ruling the galaxy if Luke had joined his side. The context here and how he frames his obsession with Luke it makes it seem like he already made an offer to Luke to come to the Dark Side, hinting it could be when Palpatine asked him to kill and replace Darth Vader in ROTJ.
Also, Snoke admits that he respects and fears Luke. Again, this must mean Luke intimidated him or his inner-circle in battle, and when you look at how Luke stood against the Emperor in ROTJ, this tracks. Palpatine saw both the power of the Light and Dark in Luke, and in that instance, it became clear that Luke was the powerhouse Force user he was always searching for. From Snoke's dialogue, it appears he tried to co-opt Luke into being his equal at some point, and it seems like these encounters built Luke up in his eyes, or possibly through Palpatine's eyes.
Snoke could've been possessed by Palpatine, whose spirit jumped from body to body in the Expanded Universe. Following Snoke's death, Palpatine's essence could have been freed, which could set up his spirit to have a roaming role in the next movie. Was Palpatine liberated from Snoke's vessel when Kylo cut his mentor in half? That could explain why he's back seeking revenge and to complete his endgame.
As we read this dialogue in the comic, this tracks with a Palpatine who was reborn or occupied a new body and decided to hurt Luke, not one-on-one, but by corrupting Kylo, someone even more naturally powerful in the Force than Luke.
If Palpatine is looking for a new vessel now, this also ties into why he might be trying to go after Rey, not because she's a rival but because she's the vessel he needs, especially since she's tied to both sides of the Force. Either way, Palpatine transferring his soul has been talked of for some time, and Snoke's words here might mean that despite his dead form, he could be responsible for the Emperor coming forth once more. Hopefully, more of this is fleshed out in the books soon, but as it stands, Snoke is the spitting image of the cruelty, vindictiveness and power-lust that defined the fallen Emperor.