Star Wars: The Last Jedi may have given some fans a Luke Skywalker death they never wanted. But once again, the comic book adaptation may have given those disappointed fans what they were missing... getting to hear what Luke was thinking as he finally joined with The Force.
In the world of Star Wars, that means dissolving into nothingness, leaving only a shawl behind. Even for those who enjoyed The Last Jedi and thought that Luke Skywalker's death scene was perfect, the added detail in the comic book adaptation from Marvel is hard to resist, adding even more dramatic weight and heartbreaking fan service. And while audiences may view it as the end of Luke's journey in the story so far, that isn't how Luke felt when he realized his time was up.
For the aging Jedi Knight, following the path of Yoda and Obi-wan was the start of a new adventure.
The Last Jedi comic is, ostensibly, exactly what it claims to be: a retelling of the events of the film, in comic book form. But perhaps proving that novels (graphic or otherwise) are often more rewarding than the film, the series has done the same, even for a film as divisive as Rian Johnson's Episode 8. The best example being the chance to read what Leia was thinking before her Force space flight - and now, what passed through Luke's mind in his final moments.
This additional insight into Johnson's film may be taken as disconnected, or even non-canonical, since it's coming from a different set of creators. It's true that this expansion of the film's story is different than previous ways the Last Jedi comic addressed the loudest criticisms. Like giving Admiral Ackbar his last words, or showing the deleted scene of Luke learning of Han Solo's death. Some might also argue that fans aren't supposed to know what Luke was thinking as his joining with The Force approached, since the movie chose not to reveal it.
But if Mark Hamill is still trying to understand Luke's story, then getting the added insight of the Jedi's final internal monologue can't hurt. The scene itself plays out almost exactly like the film: Luke says his farewell to Kylo Ren, collapses from the exhaustion of his Force Projection, and gazes out at the setting sun with tears in his eyes. As the second sun emerges, fans will almost certainly make the link to Luke's Tatooine home. It's a beautiful way of showing Luke's life has come full circle, in a way, as he departs the living to become one with The Force.
The glimpse into Luke's mind offered by the Last Jedi comic confirms that he has made the same link to his earliest, childhood memories. But the moment is much more to Luke than just a memory of his first life, and distant home. We should note that as established earlier in the issue, these text boxes really are Luke's inner thoughts, spoken only to himself.
It may seem a subtle distinction, but to the most devoted and invested of Star Wars fans, it's sure to be a rewarding one. The fact that Luke is framing his 'death' as a departure into a larger world - just like his first introduction to The Force itself - takes much of the sting out of his passing. While also confirming that Obi-wan's earliest words to him haven't faded from his memory (not a shock, but a comforting moment for fans, all the same).
Some fans will be quick to point out that a Jedi's death not being a real death is a given, and a foregone conclusion by now. While it's true that Obi-wan and Yoda returned to speak with Luke in the form of a Force Ghost, the skill has never been shown as a universal gift (and Obi-wan is no longer sending Luke any messages at all). And most importantly, knowing that Luke could still appear as a Force Ghost doesn't make his death any less heartbreaking. Perhaps the comic's writer Gary Whitta has changed that with these small lines of dialogue.
In death, Luke may become more powerful than Kylo Ren could ever imagine. But more importantly, Luke's final moments alive actually saw the master become the student once more. Here's hoping that Luke's "first steps" into this larger world prove as game-changing for Episode 9 as it did his first time around. For the sake of the Rebellion, at the very least.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Adaptation #6 is available now from Marvel Comics.