Warning: SPOILERS for Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #36
Whether or not Emperor Palpatine ever returns, there's no denying that his empire's greatest weakness was having HIM as a leader. Cruel, vindictive, hateful, and detested across the galaxy, it's a miracle Emperor Palpatine took as long as he did to lose all power. But now, Star Wars has revealed the woman who was actually keeping the Empire together all those years, despite its incompetent leader: Imperial Minister Pitina Voor.
Every fan is going to want to know the woman born Pitina Mar-Mas Voor, twenty-five years before Sheev Palpatine began his rise to power. Married to a lame duck bureaucrat in the Empire's ruling class of competing officers and governors, Pitina saw history repeating itself. That below all the bravado, intimidation, and posturing... the expansion of the Empire through brute force was killing it even as it spread (running out of both soldiers and money). And Pitina just might have led the Galactic Empire to total success, if not for once crucial weakness: Emperor Palpatine had absolutely no idea how to lead.
Pitina offers her account in the pages of Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #36 from Simon Spurrier, Cris Bolson, and Wilton Santos. She has reason to assassinate Palpatine, claiming it is all for the sake of the Empire. While others might have seen how doomed Palpatine was as a tyrant and worked the situation to their own benefit before the Empire collapsed, Pitina acted.
Encouraging her husband's suicide to spare himself a traitor's death at Vader's hand (which was not actually coming), Pitina claimed his position for herself. Acknowledging that Emperor Palpatine may have known the truth of her deception, he granted her influence and position anyway. Which is when she began to enact her true vision for the Empire's successful expansion. A system Star Wars fans (and fans of political history) will appreciate, since the three tenets she instituted are exactly how an Empire grows stronger through expansion, whether it's galactic or not:
Within a year I had established The Coalition for Progress and coined the Three Guiding Tenets of Imperial Outreach. First we show the people the face of chaos. The pirates, the raiders, the mobsters and the monsters. Some are real--most we invent. Anything to make the dumb natives beg for a garrison to save them. Next we show them how perfect their worlds could be in the Emperor's embrace. Such order, such calm! (I don't mind telling you: we've become extremely gifted at making false smiles look natural.)
And lastly? Oh--just a casual afterthought!--we conspicuously wipe a tear for the worlds that said 'No.' These days, two our of three conflicts resolve without a single shot fired. You understand? I have saved this regime. I have built a culture that transcends the clenched first. I have nursed this Empire with a lie, in the expectation that eventually it will become a truth: harmony and prosperity are the rewards of those who submit. And he. Is ruining. Everything.
The plan outlined by Pitina can be seen throughout the Star Wars saga, being enacted at different stages on numerous worlds. On the one hand, it explains why the Empire made so many backroom deals with warlords, crime bosses, and pirate gangs--since they created the very threats the Empire promised to eliminate through total submission. But all that work is for nothing if you have a leader who looks every bit the villain he truly is, and who torments, kills, and crushes as he desires. That's the kind of tyrant who inspires rebellion with every people and world he dominates--meaning he has nobody to blame but himself for his own destruction.
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #36 is available now from your local comic book shop, or direct from Marvel Comics.