No, A New Star Wars Comic Does Not ‘Explain’ Rey’s Force Abilities

No, A New Star Wars Comic Does Not ‘Explain’ Rey’s Force Abilities

You’d think the internet would be talking about Rey and Star Wars comics this week thanks to the release of IDW’s Forces of Destiny: Rey comic, inspired by the female-focused animated series. Instead, it’s because of Marvel’s Darth Vader comic, and it’s for some weird reasons.

Image: Marvel Comics: Darth Vader #10 cover art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Francesco Mattina.

This week’s Darth Vader #10 – written by Charles Soule, with art from Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandini and David Curiel alongside lettering by Joe Caramagna – is the culmination of the series’ current arc, which has seen Attack of the Clones‘ Jedi librarian Jocasta Nu return to the Jedi Temple to retrieve information about Force-sensitive children, only to encounter the wrath of Darth Vader himself. This week, the two duel, as Vader (who’s been instructed by his master to bring Jocasta in alive) is needled by the elderly Jedi after she finds out both his purpose and his true identity: Anakin Skywalker. And this, weirdly enough, is where Rey has come into discussions of the issue.

Darth Vader #10 interior art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandini, and David Curiel, lettering by Joe Caramagna.

Darth Vader #10 interior art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandini and David Curiel, lettering by Joe Caramagna.

Jocasta rails at Anakin for his betrayal of the Order, but gives him a warning: Even if she dies, even if Vader’s quest to stamp out the Jedi succeeds, the Force will live on, will reach out to new “vessels”, and instil in them the power to connect to this mystical energy. She adds that it’s already happening, and someone like Anakin – himself born out of the living Force – should be able to sense that anyway.

That conversation has gone on to spark a flurry of articles that this is the “explanation” for how Rey, despite The Last Jedi‘s revelation of her having no biological connection to a famous character such as Obi-Wan or any of the Skywalkers, could manifest the ability to use the Force. That the Force has “selected” her as a vessel for it, framing it almost like an artificial selection – like fate – rather than a natural manifestation. Except, this isn’t really new, or even really an explanation for how Rey can wield the power she does. It’s just… sort of how the Force has always worked?

The Force is an energy field that, as Yoda tells us in Empire Strikes Back, binds everything and everyone in the galaxy together. Then, the prequels told us, there’s a biological aspect in the form of Midi-chlorians – something everyone has, but just happens to appear in greater quantities in some beings, a random factor of nature. Anyone can feel the Force, regardless of if they’re linked to some great legacy, or if they’re a nobody (like a Jakku orphan, or a Canto Bight stable sweep), because it’s in every living thing.

That’s what Jocasta’s talking about in Darth Vader #10, rather than specific, fated individuals such as Luke and Leia, or the unborn Rey. Try as Vader and Palpatine might to extinguish the light of the Jedi, there will always be people out there with the capacity to connect to the ever-present Force, people who will turn to the light side and follow in the fallen Jedi Order’s path. This isn’t a new thing, nor is it a specific “choosing” of a future character like Rey. It’s just… the Force.

The Star Wars saga’s meditations on fate and destiny, through the specific lens of the Skywalker family, have lead to a weirdly elitist obsession among certain fans, arguing who can and cannot use the Force. Part of why the mystery of Rey’s parentage blew up the way it did was out of an assumption that she must be related to someone important – otherwise, surely, how can she be so strong in the Force, right? That’s something The Last Jedi takes to task, not just by torpedoing the widely-speculated origins of Rey with something so completely banal, but with the revelation of the Force-sensitive stable worker at the very end of the film. The message, a beautiful one, is clear: The Force can work in mysterious ways, but it’s something that is accessible to everyone, not just prophesised bloodlines such as the Skywalker family. Anyone can use it, and anyone can be a hero.

Darth Vader #10 doesn’t provide answers about Rey any more than it needs to, or any more than Star Wars at large has already explained, despite what you may have read online. And that’s, well, sort of the point. You don’t need an explanation for why someone, Rey or otherwise, can use the Force – the Star Wars galaxy is filled with luminous beings, ones that are not defined by their crude matter.


  • It still doesn’t make sense cause in reality there’s no dark or light side to the Force. The Force won’t ‘decide’ to give itself to someone because there’s too much dark. The Force is the Force, it’s only society that gave it a binary system.

  • I find the “beautiful” message, that anyone can use the force, really… I don’t have good words for it. I just can’t help to think about 2 things about it.

    Thing one. Their must be balance in the force(?), so the existence of the stable boy, presumably a ‘good guy’ means there is also a new Sith child somewhere out there as well etc, etc.

    Thing two. If Rey is the Force trying to balance the dark side, most likely Kylo, then I can’t help but feel there is a really weird message sitting just under the surface. Basically we see Kylo practising, training, generally working hard, to become what he has become. Which the movie tells us is a ridiculously powerful sith (?). I personally feel the movies show that Rey almost cheats to be as powerful as she is. She gets next to no practise or training or education, but she gets to be as powerful as someone who actually worked for it. Personally that’s why Rey being part of a lineage was appealing to me, because I could pretend that her genes held the potential of her lineage or she received training before being abandoned. Thus justifying Rey being a Mary Sue.

    • That’s why many people love the idea of Rey turning to the dark side while Ben turns to the light. He works hard and eventually finds his path while Rey takes a shortcut.

      • To be fair, we haven’t actually seen him working hard; we know he trained with Luke, but we don’t know what the nature of that was. And all we’ve seen of him in the films is stalking about wearing black and throwing temper tantrums.

    • Yeah, Rey being so powerful with 0 training is in the top 3 issues I have with the new movies. Even Luke had a training montage.
      But hey, I guess it’s an honest message: no matter how hard you try, there is someone out there who is just born better than you.

      • That’s what I find super weird. Because one of the first thing I heard from people defending Last Jedi was that a nobody could be powerful compared to having someone from the Skywalker family be the main character because the Skywalker family must be powerful.

        Like either you’re born powerful because you’re born from a powerful family/Skywalker or you’re born powerful because your religon/the force says so.
        But only in regards to the light side?
        Yeah, I’m on board with Rey going Dark side and Kylo going light side.

      • all she did in the first film was use force mind thingie, by chance when she was being tortured (ie under duress) then later force pulled and caught her saber and then did a half assed job fighting Kylo. She hardly showed any amazing moves. Next time she uses the force is when she is in her own training montage on a sacred Jedi aisle. I dont buy this ‘Rey being too powerful, too fast’ dislike thing.

        • I guess the complaints are about the rocks at the end of the new movie, but didn’t Yoda say something like weight didn’t matter with the Force anyway?

          • Yeah, weight means nothing to the Force user. But in saying this, people trained in the Force know this. Rey hasn’t been trained at this point. She just knows she can do it because of her ability to never fail. She’s perfect at everything she needs.

    • You’re making the assumption that the stable boy is Light. What if, like most of us, he is a mixture of Dark and Light, and must seek to balance these aspects of himself, as we all must?

      Rey does not fear the Dark – she goes into the tentacle cave looking for answers, but she finds none. It represents what she has to come to terms with (coming to terms with your own darkness so it cannot be used against you is a bit of Campbellian lore that not many people deal with — it’s not part of the Hero’s Journey that many writers use); that her powers and her lineage starts with her. Her place isn’t because of who she came from, but what she is. Kylo is desperately trying to become what he thinks his past entitles him to; he’s taking on the aspect of what he thinks he should be, but it’s based on things that are external to him.

      • Oh I know I’m assuming that the stable boy is light side, but the point stands. If he is dark side then somewhere in the galaxy there is a light side child. I just assume he is light side given how the movie uses the stable brats.

        For the rest of your comment I already agree with your argument, and you articulate it quite effectively (better than I could). My issue isn’t what the Last Jedi tried to do, what it tried to do is really interesting. I just think they executed poorly and considering that this is Disney which is also doing Marvel is really odd to me given the care the MCU seems to get.
        Like Rose’s speech about how children get caught up in the conflict is pretty good, but she’s telling it to the child soldier. IDK if in the expanded universe Finn’s background makes Rose’s speech more powerful, but just watching the movie (which I’d expect to be the primary source of Star Wars lore) makes that scene really off-kilter.
        I believe I read something about how originally Finn and Poe were meant to go to the casino planet and I wonder if Rose’s speech was meant to be Finn’s speech to Poe, but they replaced Poe with Rose and gave Finn’s speech to Rose as well. I still don’t understand why Holdo’s sacrifice is shown as heroic, while Finn get the “don’t kill what you hate, save what you love” as resistance members are getting killed in the background. And the sequence of trying to escape from the resistance base “there must be an exit, we’ll just take the exit/entrance that Luke used to get in!” when the movie goes on to show there was no exit/entrance that Luke used because Luke wasn’t real.

        I’m not sure if this helps explain where I’m approaching the Last Jedi from but I went in to the film ready to just let the film wash over me and not nit-pick. But the film made me go “what? why did the creators decide to do that?” right at the start and I just couldn’t switch off after it. In complete honesty it was right at the start when they have the Resistance Bombers arm their bombs while still onboard. Like they have interstellar space travel but they can’t arm their bombs once they leave the ship? And the movie seems to do it to have the catastrophic chain reaction taking out the bombers. But they already showed some bombers just being shot down by normal shots. Why didn’t they just have they bombers shot down or one shot into the next and just have them take each other out by just crashing into each other? Also just for the heck of it they could have made Phasma take out the bombers, so she could actually DO something in these films.
        Speaking of Phasma, her comic where she escapes the Death Star-planet-thingy is just stupid. Might be unfair to Star Wars but that comic has convinced me that the new films aren’t fully thought out and the creators way out is to create an expanded universe story to “fix” problems , regardless of how dumb it is. It makes me draw comparison to the idea that games nowadays are released buggy/incomplete with the plan to just patch them later. It’s poor form when videogames do it, but you do eventually get the “finished” game because of the life-cycle of a videogame. But when a film (appears) to do it, I reckon that film should be ridiculed and the director/whoever responsible should be (politely/rationally) criticised.

        One last thought. I find it odd (not good or bad) that the bombers are so different. Spaceships in fiction always (as far is I know) have parallels to navy ships/combat. But the bombers in Last Jedi are clearly inspired by aircraft. I just find it interesting they decided to go from torpedoes to dropping large numbers of bombs. I don’t know enough about modern military armaments to say with confidence that it is old-school to drop lots of bombs compared to dropping fewer, more precise, more powerful bombs.

        • Tl;dr inexperienced directors on massive budgets and projects. Disney wants to control them, but they are paying for it with shitty products.

        • Spaceships in Star Wars have always taken inspiration from aircraft – George Lucas said that the idea behind X-Wings and Tie-Fighters was a WWII dogfight. The new bombers just expand on that WWII-era air combat.

          I get that your first comment is based on the sequel movies suggesting that a strong light side user came about because Snoke/Kylo were so strong. But just because the character that said it might believe that, doesn’t make it actually true. Consider the prequels, where you had HUNDREDS of Jedi, and only ever two Sith at a time. By the time of the OT, the Force was already a ‘hokey religion’, and largely the stuff of myth and legend. For most people in the time of the sequels, that will be more so.

        • You missed my point.

          What if there are Force users all over the galaxy now, who are neither Dark nor Light, but have both darkness and light within them, that they must balance. What if, rather than being angels with flaming swords (and don’t even TRY to tell me that’s not what Jedi are) and demons from the depths of hell, whose unending wars leave people and planets and societies ruined in their wake, Rey and the new generation of Force users are half angel, half demon, all human (or Wookiee, or trandoshan, or Togruta or whatever) and have to work out what that means.

          As to the Finn and Rose subplot; what i took away from Rose’s speech was that Finn gets to realise that he’s a symbol for other children of war. A child soldier who found a way to make his own choices, and how made a difference rather than being swallowed up in the conflict.

          As to the bombers, I get that Star Wars takes its air-battles directly from WW2, but I’d have put thrusters on those bombs and fired them into the engines of the dreadnaught, myself — small, fast moving, hard-to-track highly-explosive targets that didn’t rely on the s l o w e s t ships ever to deliver them. But then Poe wouldn’t have learned A Very Important Lesson. Ugh.

  • Part of why the mystery of Rey’s parentage blew up the way it did was out of an assumption that she must be related to someone important – otherwise, surely, how can she be so strong in the Force, right?
    No. The reason the mystery of Rey’s parentage blew up is because JJ Abrams deliberately focused on it and made it a mystery in Force Awakens.

    I think people are forgetting that the interest in Rey’s parentage wasn’t the doing of fans, it was a deliberate choice by the director and writers of the first film. It set up a “promise” to the audience that it would be a mystery worth their time. Then The Last Jedi tossed it out unceremoniously, which is why it was unsatisfying for many people. This is a pretty basic concept of writing, and should be considered an entirely acceptable basis for criticism.

    • I think the fan speculation about Rey’s parentage is more to blame than anything actually IN The Force Awakens for the hurt feelings of a segment of the fan population. Maz Kanata straight up tells Rey that the belonging she seeks is in front of her, not behind her. Rey spends the film telling anyone who will listen that she’s “no one” or “just a scavenger.”

      The accepted trope in these kinds of film is you never believe that; the anonymous orphan is pretty much always the lost heir to the kingdom, or the scion hidden away for safe keeping, or whatall. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ … sorry, nodded off for a moment. Some people want their comfortable old cliches, and get upset when they don’t get them.

      But JJ Abrams, of all people, who never saw a trope he didn’t overuse, subverted that. Turns out, it was the truth. Rey’s not important because of who she’s related to; she’s important because of who and what she is, and what she can become.

      • Except Abrams didn’t subvert the trope, he and the rest of the writers played it straight and kept playing with it for the whole of TFA. Rey’s motivation for a significant portion of TFA was “get back to her parents”. I’m assuming this was partially a bad implementation of the “refusal of the call” from the Hero’s Journey, since that’s the classic Star Wars formula, and they dare not do anything different. Even if that was the case, it didn’t need all the attention it received like Rey’s flashbacks in TFA, and especially in TLJ with her still trying to find out who her parents were. It could have been dumped and didn’t need the focus it was given, yet was played straight for mystery.

        Personally, I thought the whole focus on Rey’s parents in TFA was hackneyed as a “chosen one” trope. TLJ delivering the subversion of “nope, she’s not!” as a “shocking twist reveal” only compounded my assessment, as their in complete conflict “Rey’s parents are important!” in TFA versus “No, they’re not!” in TLJ. If you set the audience up with a mystery through an ongoing drip-feed only to deliver a “gotcha!” moment to reveal it as a red herring, it’s not a clever subversion of a trope. It is played purely for the writer’s ego – “look how clever I am for subverting your expectations!” That’s not satisfying for the audience, nor it is clever writing.

        This is generally what’s known as providing “promises” to the reader/audience, and not delivering on them. If you’re going to subvert an expectation/promise, you need more than a single line from a forgettable ancillary character that only existed to give the hero a quest item to set it up. Rey’s denials don’t count because they’re inherently part of the trope and thus serve to enforce it rather than suggest a subversion.

        • Playing a trope straight and then veering sharply to the left at the last possible second is HOW you subvert a trope.

          And here’s the thing: the writer owes you NOTHING, except to tell you a story. If it’s not the story you wanted, or you don’t care for their way of telling it, your money is good with every other writer in the ‘Verse. But you sound like the kid in The Princess Bride, whingeing that his grandfather is telling the story wrong when he reveals that Humperdink lives in the end. The kid’s expectations aren’t being met, but actually, the audience can see the story is better for it.

          • No offense, I think you need to study writing some more. Subversion of expectations should be set up in such a way that the development of that subversion can be seen in hindsight.

            Let me try a very simple analogy to explain this, since you don’t seem to be able to grasp the fundamentals of subverting expectations. TLJ is like delivering a set of clear breadcrumbs to the audience to lead them to a lunch of bread, only to have them lead to a giant pile of elephant dung. It’s not what the audience expected, and there was also no clue to indicate that the whole thing was a practical joke.

            The audience can and will happily accept a joke/subversion, provided there’s some clear hints laid in the foundation of the breadcrumb trail to let them know “something else is going on”.

            TLJ doesn’t do this (and not just for Rey’s parentage) which is why its subversions are poorly delivered. Rey’s parentage was foreshadowed as significant in an ongoing fashion throughout TFA, and then its importance was revisited in TLJ before a “gotcha!” moment to declare it wasn’t. In contrast, Humperdinck living is somewhat unexpected, but fits with the nature of the story and even follows on from the major confrontation with Westley threatening NOT to kill him. Princess Bride repeatedly subverts expectations but does it in a way that the audience is in on the joke, which serves to make them satisfying and entertaining.

            As for the writer owing the audience nothing, you’re categorically wrong. Your understanding of storytelling is wrong. Your understanding of the writer’s responsibilities is wrong. Your understanding of the relationship between the storyteller and the audience is wrong. You fundamentally misunderstand of all these things.

            The writer is free to tell whatever story they want, but if the writer expects the audience to engage with and enjoy the story, it needs to be told well. That’s the contract between writer and their audience. The writer is free to do whatever the hell they want, but the audience is absolutely allowed to turn around and declare “that was terrible”.

            If a writer delivers something that is inconsistent or incoherent, then the audience has every right to say “that was bad”. Since the ending of Mass Effect 3, audiences saying “that was bad” has frequently been cast as “entitlement”. I’m here to disabuse you and anyone else of that notion. You have forgotten that the audience ultimately determines what works and what doesn’t. The writer doesn’t get to go “no, my writing was amazing and transcended time and space, you’re just too dumb to understand it.” The audience has every right to turn around and go “your writing was shit”. They paid money for a product, and when it doesn’t deliver something that was competent, they’re absolutely allowed to criticise it. This isn’t about going “it’s not what I expected” or “it’s not what I would have written”, it is people saying “this is flawed and here are the reasons why”. Criticising criticism is the path that leads to utter mediocrity. Blindly accepting things without challenging them is how you get trash like the Star Wars prequels – no one dared question the great George Lucas, so the movies got created off the first draft. Criticism and editing is vital to storytelling, and the many flaws of TLJ would suggest that it did not get enough of either before behind filmed.

            You might call me the whinging kid in The Princess Bride, to that I counter that you’re one of the brainwashed masses in Robocop that slavishly lap up anything delivered to you without any critical analysis.

          • If that’s true, I’m sure your assurances to your students that the writer owes their audience nothing will place them in good stead to deal with all the rejection letters they receive for their “subversive masterpieces” like TLJ.

          • Like I said. They owe their readers a story.

            Once that story is out in the world, some people will like it and some people won’t. That’s part of the whole writing gig. There are markets and audiences for everything from comfortable, cliched re-tellings of the Hero’s Journey to stuff that makes Joyce look conventional. I’ve seen good and bad examples of both, and I’ve seen commercially and critically successful examples of both, sometimes even at the same time.

            They don’t owe their readers a particular plot, or particular structure, and their readers get to decide what works for them and what doesn’t. That’s the deal. They certainly don’t owe their readers the fulfillment of a tired old trope just because they are stringing them along with some of its elements, playing with the old building blocks to build a new thing.

            They also know very well that, in this particular case, some readers will go “but but, she’s obsessed with her family, so clearly her family is important to the story, because that’s how Star Wars Works, and I had this all worked out.” Well, no. She is, but (in order) it isn’t, it doesn’t and you didn’t. Her family is important to Rey as a character; she has every orphan’s questions about why she was abandoned and what her parents are like. But it’s not important to the story. In fact, the fact that’s she’s really and truly nobody from nowhere, and still has all this power and potential, is important to the story.

            Also, “if that is true”? Stay classy.

          • Like I said. They owe their readers a story.
            No, that’s not what you said at all.
            the writer owes you NOTHING, except to tell you a story
            You see how those two statement are different, right? I realise they might seem like same thing, but there are subtle differences.

            Also, “if that is true”? Stay classy.
            Says the person who said Go boil your head

            I called out the tiresome adherence to the Hero’s Journey and the Star Wars cliches in TFA, now you’re saying that I’m clinging to them? Did you actually read what I wrote? And what you wrote?

            I honestly don’t even understand how you’re arguing, because your argument so far has boiled down to “Oh, it’s completely different, therefore it’s great and anyone who thinks otherwise is just clinging to the past.” You, along with many fans of this movie, seem to be stuck in this mindset that anyone who doesn’t like any aspect of TLJ doesn’t understand writing or how brilliant TLJ is because it’s so subversive. Being subversive or having lofty ideals doesn’t excuse the fact that the character development and plot events (what little there are) are either non-existent and lack congruity within itself and TFA.

            It appears you’re convinced that TLJ has no flaws whatsoever because you’re unable to admit to even the slightest failing. In which case I really don’t see any reason to continue the discussion beyond this point. I can only suggest that you examine the movie with a more critical eye rather than being so in love with the themes of diversity that run through it. Those are great, but they don’t redeem or eliminate its flaws.

  • tbh i dont really want to know anymore about her parents. I like it the way it is now. Her parents being some kind of big thing in the univers would detract from her great character. I like a jedi where anyone can be one. Not just a person who happens to have the right parents.

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