This article contains spoilers for Star Wars #28!Star Wars comics have revealed the Emperor would have likely captured Luke Skywalker… had he not been distracted by the second Death Star. Sith Lords have always been known for their egos. Emperor Palpatine, for example, always liked to claim he had foreseen all his enemies’ moves; in reality, he was far more reactionary, and his fabled powers of foresight were not as impressive as he liked to claim.
He certainly didn’t foresee the destruction of the first Death Star, which came as a massive blow to the Emperor’s plans. Palpatine had used the Senate as something of a failsafe, allowing opposition to the Empire to build in the political arena even as he prepared to unveil the Death Star. He only dissolved the Senate when the superweapon was finally ready, because he was convinced fear of planetary destruction would keep the galaxy in line and he didn’t need to maintain a pretense of democracy. But the Death Star was destroyed by Luke Skywalker, who fired the shot that started the Galactic Civil War. The Emperor’s attention turned to the second Death Star, which was being constructed over the forest moon of Endor.
Ironically, Star Wars #28 – by Charles Soule, Andres Genolet, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Clayton Cowles – reveals the Emperor’s focus on the second Death Star causes him to miss an infiltration of Coruscant by Luke Skywalker himself. A family of Imperial defectors had escapes from the construction of the Death Star and crash-lands on the Imperial capital of Coruscant itself – essentially in the Emperor’s own backyard. They manage to get a panicked cry for help to the Rebel Alliance, and Luke Skywalker senses it is important when he hears it. The nascent Jedi travels to Coruscant personally, able to do so because Palpatine and Darth Vader are offworld on classified business in the Outer Rim. They are clearly visiting the second Death Star, although the Rebel Alliance doesn’t know it at the time.
The Death Star Was Palpatine’s Folly, Not Tarkin’s
The first Death Star became known as « Tarkin’s folly, » because he was its greatest proponent. In truth, though, it was the Emperor’s folly; the Sith believed in rule through fear, and Palpatine believed only fear would keep the galaxy in line. Leia is right in the first Star Wars film, though, when she warns Tarkin that the tighter the Empire squeezes, « the more star systems will slip through your fingers. » The destruction of the first Death Star proves the Empire is vulnerable, leaving the Emperor desperate. He unwisely chooses to double down on his error, continuing to trust in superweapons.
It is ironic, though, that the Emperor’s focus on the second Death Star takes him to the Outer Rim at the wrong moment. Had the Emperor returned just a few days sooner, he’d surely sense the presence of Luke Skywalker on Coruscant, and realize he doesn’t need to lay any traps for the Jedi. Emperor Palpatine could capture Luke Skywalker when he is operating in the shadow of the Empire itself, but because of the Death Star he misses the opportunity, and his fate is sealed as the Star Wars story continues.