Warning: contains spoilers to Star Wars: Hidden Empire #1!In its new Hidden Empire event, Star Wars just changed the original trilogy forever by introducing a secret Sith rival to Emperor Palpatine. In a trilogy encompassing War of the Bounty Hunters, Crimson Reign, and Hidden Empire, Marvel’s in-canon Star Wars comics have followed the secret war between Palpatine’s Empire and Lady Qi’ra’s Crimson Dawn, which has positioned disgruntled agents across every major faction in the galaxy. Now, Qi’ra is moving against Palpatine, with a plan to unleash a previously unknown Sith Lord.
The Sith Rule of Two was one of the most extreme doctrines in Star Wars history. Introduced by Darth Bane long before even the Prequel Trilogy, the Rule of Two was designed to stop the destructive in-fighting between the Sith by limiting their numbers to one Master and one Apprentice, with the latter learning from the former until they either found a way to overthrow them or were themselves disposed of. Palpatine played fast and loose with Sith doctrine over the years, but even he saw the function of the Rule of Two, which focused the Sith’s power and made them capable of overthrowing the Jedi order.
However, in Star Wars: Hidden Empire #1 – by Charles Soule, Steven Cummings, Victor Olazaba, and Travis Lanham – Qi’ra is looking to turn the Rule of Two against Palpatine. Qi’ra resents the Sith’s absolute power in the galaxy, and so she has sought out the one weapon capable of overthrowing Palpatine – the Fermata Cage. The Cage is a Dark Side device which effectively traps a single moment in perpetual stasis, subjecting anyone trapped inside to a living death. In the issue, Qi’ra reveals that she plans to open the Cage, unleashing a Sith Lord trapped inside, who – thanks to the Rule of Two – will act as a destabilizing rival to Palpatine’s regime.
Star Wars’ New Sith Lord Changes Everything
So far, almost nothing is known about this Sith Lord’s identity, and clues are scarce. The Rule of Two stood for a thousand years, suggesting it’s a Sith from that era, however the Sith were also underground during this time, raising the question of who even knew a Sith Lord existed to imprison them in the first place. It’s possible – even likely – that the Sith Lord was imprisoned by their own apprentice (given this is how many Sith Masters die), but Sith doctrine forbade co-mingling the Dark Side with technology like the Fermata Cage, suggesting that it was constructed by either a Sith heretic or an unknown faction. Star Wars ‘High Republic’ transmedia initiative is currently exploring the past of the Star Wars Universe, so it’s likely that it’s there that fans will get the backstory on this Sith Lord once they’re inevitably released from their prison.
A New Sith Can Continue the Order After Rise of Skywalker
Hidden Empire will doubtless share more details on the trapped Sith Lord in time, but the reveal is a monumental one for Star Wars fans. Taking place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Hidden Empire just verified that for the majority of the Original Trilogy, a secret Sith Lord was alive and imprisoned within the galaxy, waiting to be released. The franchise has been incredibly sparing with introducing Sith to this era – though Vader was tutored by the shade of Darth Momin – and the existence of what’s essentially a Sith cage sets up the potential for this new villain to either be released now for a Sith vs Sith smackdown, or to reappear in the timeline after Rise of Skywalker, bringing back the Sith Order after Palpatine’s fall.
Star Wars History Will Never Be the Same
What happens next awaits to be seen, but there’s little chance Star Wars‘ new Original Trilogy-era Sith will remain bottled up forever, and whether they end up a direct rival to Palpatine or the force that brings back the Sith, Hidden Empire just introduced a huge twist which will likely affect the Saga for years to come.
Star Wars: Hidden Empire #1 is available now from Marvel Comics.