The brain is an amazing thing. It manages every other system in the body, retains memories and knowledge, and occasionally, taps into a supernatural source of cosmic energy and grants psychic powers like telekinesis and telepathy. These sorts of powers can be some of the greatest in fiction - what good is strength, speed, or eye-lasers when the other guy can cripple you with a mere thought? Today, we'll be looking at two of fiction's most powerful users of psychokinesis: Emperor Palpatine, the Senate and the strongest Sith Lord in history, and Jean Grey, the Omega-level telepath of the X-Men! Let's find out which one of these mental manipulators is DEADLIEST!
Sheev Palpatine, known to the Sith as Darth Sidious, is considered to be the most powerful Sith Lord ever. Palpatine was inducted into the Sith at an early age by Darth Plagueis. After learning all he could about the Force from Plagueis, he murdered him and took his place as Dark Lord of the Sith, as per the Rule of Two. He lived a public life as a senator, eventually reaching the position of Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. He chose Anakin Skywalker to be his apprentice and manipulated him into turning to the Dark Side as Darth Vader, after which he overthrew the Jedi and replaced the Republic with the Galactic Empire. Palpatine ruled the galaxy until the arrival of Anakin's son, Luke, whom Palpatine wished to replace Vader. Vader betrayed Palpatine and killed him, but his knowledge of the Force allowed him to cheat death multiple times and return to threaten the New Republic, until his fourth resurrection was interrupted and his spirit was dragged into the Force by the spirit of a dying Jedi, killing him for good.
Lightsabers: A lightsaber's blade is composed of a plasma that emits intense heat upon contact, allowing it to cut through almost anything. Palpatine constructed his pair of lightsabers out of a phrik alloy which is almost indestructible. He is a master of all forms of lightsaber combat and is one of the most accomplished duelists in history. Combined with the relevant Force abilities, he is capable of killing even experienced Jedi and Sith masters effortlessly in a matter of seconds. However, Palpatine holds disdain for melee combat, believing it to be beneath him, and he only engages in it as a way of mocking the Jedi.
Force powers are supernatural abilities manifested from an individual's connection to the Force, the energy field that binds everything in existence. Force powers are separated into three aspects: Control, mastering control of one's own body, Sense, attuning oneself to the environment, and Alter, affecting the world around oneself. There seems to be no limit to the range that a Force-sensitive can focus their powers; as long as they have an idea of where their target is located, they can be used across even thousands of light-years. There are dozens of known Force powers, and Sidious is familiar with all of them, having even invented a few of his own. The ones directly applicable to combat are listed below, but a comprehensive list of all know powers can be found here. Note that some of these abilities were invented only after Sidious's lifetime.
- Control Pain: A Force-user can block out sensations of pain and fight on as if they were never injured. This ability can also be used to resist being stunned.
- Essence Transfer: In a ritual of essence transfer, the practitioner removes their spirit from their body and transplants it into the body of another. The user will retain all physical characteristics of the new host body. The transfer can be resisted if the target has a strong enough will, which will destroy the user's spirit. Sidious has a number of cloned bodies stored on Byss ready for him to transfer into.
- Force Augmentation: Force augmentation is an umbrella term for many different control techniques that allow the user to boost their physical abilities to that of the superhuman. Force-augmented Sith can leap great heights, perform feats of extreme agility and dexterity, survive otherwise debilitating wounds, and react fast enough to intercept bullets. Palpatine's physical abilities are expanded upon later.
- Force Healing: Force-users can encourage rapid healing and revitalization in the midst of battle, even repairing damage to vital organs. However, most Sith prefer to use abilities like Force rage to power through pain and injury rather than healing.
- Force Stealth: Sidious is one of the most powerful users of Force stealth, the ability to hide one's presence and intentions from being sensed by other Force-sensitives. He successfully hid his true nature from Darth Plagueis and the Jedi High Council, even when in the same room as them, concealing the fact that he planned to betray them both for years.
- Thought Shield: Force-users can form a shield around their minds and protect them from being read or influenced by telepaths. Even before his formal training, Palpatine could instinctively protect his mind from being read by Darth Plagueis, a Sith Master.
- Tutaminis: Users of tutaminis can absorb or dissipate concentrated energy, allowing them to protect themselves from blaster bolts, Force lightning, direct contact with lightsabers, and other forms of energy attacks.
- Force Sense: One of the most basic Force abilities is a sort of sixth sense. Through Force sense, a Force-user can feel their environment, detecting nearby presences, incoming danger, and momentous or traumatic events. For major events and important people, Force sense can be effective across light-years. Masters of the Force, such as Palpatine, can clear their minds and become harder to detect through Force sense.
- Force Sight: With Force sight, users can enhance their perception of space, seeing perfectly in the dark, through walls, or while blinded.
- Precognition: Closely related to sense and sight is precognition, the power to see into the future and predict future events. When focused, users can easily prepare for and avoid incoming attacks before they even happen. Palpatine was also immensely skilled in using long-term precognition, allowing him to consistently bring his evil plans to fruition.
- Shatterpoint: A difficult ability to master, shatterpoint involves sensing the weakest point of an object and destroying it with only a minor amount of Force power. This ability can be used to obliterate objects made of the toughest materials in the galaxy, including beskar armor and materials used in the hulls of starships.
- Telepathy: Telepathy is the act of reading and communicating with minds. Once inside a target's mind, Palpatine can influence them in a number of ways, including absorbing knowledge, sensing emotions and intent, inspiring exhaustion and doubt, deadening senses, encouraging remembrance of traumatic events, or causing extreme mental agony.
- Alter Environment: Alter environment include a variety of techniques concerned with manipulating nature. Among them are raising and lowering temperatures, increasing air pressure, causing small earthquakes, and encouraging floods and thunderstorms.
- Crucitorn: Crucitorn is the art of affecting pain with the Force, whether relieving or intensifying it.
- Cryokinesis: Force cryokinesis is the art of drawing heat away from an object. Sustained use of cryokinesis on a living target can cause death via severe hypothermia, leaving behind only a frosted corpse.
- Deadly Sight: Deadly sight is the art of focusing Force energy into the eyes, dealing damage to anyone the user looks at. It blisters the skin and even dissolves flesh. It's extremely tiring to use, however.
- Dopplegänger: Dopplegänger involves the creation of highly realistic illusions, usually a clone of the user. The user perceives the senses of the illusion.
- Force Blinding: Force blinding is a power that creates a sudden blinding flash of light out of Force energy.
- Force Cloak: By manipulating light and sound waves, a user of Force cloak can become invisible to the naked eye. However, this does not protect them from being detected through sensing abilities.
- Force Drain: Force drain is the act of sucking the life force out of a living being using it to empower one's self. Sidious was an exceptional practitioner of Force drain and could use it on a massive scale, draining the essence of the entire population of the planet of Byss while simultaneously using mind trick on them.
- Force Lightning: Force lightning is the creation and manipulation of electricity. Sidious's Force lightning is powerful enough to reduce a person to a charred husk and is incredibly versatile. His known techniques include simple blasts of branching lightning, homing sparks, electric tornadoes with himself at the center, shields of lightning, exploding spheres of lightning, turning targets into living electric grenades, or creating lightning from the ground or air. Sidious's mastery of Force lightning was so great that it even overwhelmed Yoda, a master of tutaminis.
- Force Scream: Sith have been known to unleash their anger and frustration through a powerful primal scream, causing a shockwave of Force energy that can smash through the mental and physical defenses of those nearby.
- Force Storm: Palpatine possesses knowledge of the Force storm, the power to open a rift in spacetime and create a massive wormhole capable of swallowing entire starship fleets or destroying the surface of a planet. However, Force storms can only be created under specific circumstances, such as when Palpatine is struggling against a Force-sensitive of similar power, and even then, Palpatine's ability to control such a phenomenon is doubtful.
- Force Weapon: Force-users can imbue ordinary objects with Force energy, turning them into weapons capable of standing up to lightsabers. A related ability is Darkshear, the creation of an invisible spear made up of pure Force energy.
- Malacia: Force-users can inspire nausea in an enemy by upsetting their equilibrium, causing dizziness and the urge to vomit.
- Mind Trick: The mind trick is the art of influencing the minds of sentient beings in a variety of ways, including persuading a target to do the user's bidding, creating illusions, and inspiring fear or confusion. Sidious was known to entirely dominate the minds of soldiers, making them loyal to him to the point of suicide or even converting enemies to his side. The immense range and power of his mental abilities were demonstrated by his activities on Byss, on which he influenced the minds of the planet's entire population to keep them in a hypnotic state.
- Pyrokinesis: Force-users can create and control fire by influencing the movements of air molecules. Sidious once used pyrokinesis to murder a senator by transforming the flames of a small fireplace into a raging inferno.
- Telekinesis: Telekinesis is the act of using Force energy to exert force on a Force-user's environment. In addition to basic throwing, lifting, pulling, pushing, and gripping, its wide range of applications include causing objects to explode, forming shields to deflect incoming projectiles, retrieving thrown lightsabers, hurling spheres of pure Force energy, creating fields of slowing power, lifting one's self to simulate flight, and violently lifting and contorting enemies. One of Sidious's signature telekinetic techniques was Force maelstrom, which involved surrounded himself with a barrier while creating a telekinetically induced tornado of debris and Force lightning. Sidious was strong enough in this ability to match the power of Yoda, who could telekinetically lift ocean liner-sized starships with relative ease, and demonstrated his power in their battle by bombarding Yoda with thrown hoverpods.
- Teleportation: One of the tougher abilities to master, teleportation allows to user to teleport short distances. A master can teleport practically anywhere in their line of sight.
Jean Elaine Grey-Summers, also known as Marvel Girl and Phoenix, is a mutant with the powers of telepathy and telekinesis and one of the strongest psychics in the universe. After her powers first manifested during a traumatic incident, Jean was introduced to Charles Xavier and joined his School for Gifted Youngsters. The school was a cover for the X-Men, a team of mutants that battled against evil mutants, which she joined after she learned to control her powers. During a mission in space, Jean was nearly killed by cosmic radiation and saved by the Phoenix Force, a mysterious cosmic entity, which conveyed Jean to Earth and manifested itself into a form inspired by Jean and her psyche. The Phoenix Force quickly went mad, threatening the entire universe, until the part of Jean's mind that existed within took control, forcing the Force to destroy itself. Jean reawakened on Earth, but her trials were far from over. During her adventures with the X-Men, she would constantly struggle against the continuing influence of the Phoenix Force.
Fundamentally, telepathy is the ability to use one's mind to communicate with the minds of others. Jean takes this a step further by using her telepathic abilities to manipulate minds in a variety of ways, such as instantly absorbing knowledge and thoughts, erasing and replacing memories, sensing the presence of sentient beings, or when psychic powers are at work, and forcing targets into unconsciousness. Jean's telepathic powers have proven to be superior to those of Emma Frost, who could affect millions of minds across the Earth at once. She also proved capable of affecting Magneto and the Juggernaut through their helmets, which were thought to make them immune to telepathy, and piercing the defenses of other powerful telepaths, such as Professor X and Apocalypse, in addition to defending her mind against their influence. Jean's more unique telepathic powers include:
- Astral Projection: Jean can project her consciousness out of her body and onto the Astral Plane. While in this state, she can move freely through space for long distances and use her powers as normal, in addition to manipulating her environment by creating objects out of psychic energy. However, her living body will remain vulnerable.
- Empathy: Jean's influence over the mind also extends to emotions. She can inspire or nullify emotions or even completely alter someone's personality.
- Mental Blasts: Jean can project bolts of psychic energy which have no physical effects, but attack the mind of the target, stunning and causing pain. Enough raw psychic energy can render a person unconscious or even brain dead.
- Mind Control: Depending on how much control over a target's mind, Jean can affect their thoughts and actions. She can make people fall asleep, dampen pain, make someone stop talking or walk away, or shut a person's mind down entirely and kill them.
- Mind Transferal: If her physical body is killed, Jean's mind can save itself by transferring into a host body, an ability that is immensely useful for someone who has died over a dozen times. However, instances of others using this technique imply that non-psychic bodies are not strong enough to contain Jean's power, causing the host body to be destroyed.
- Psychic Siphoning: If she is facing a foe who also has psychic abilities, Jean can drain their psychic energy and use it to enhance her own. The effectiveness of this technique depends on the strength of her target's psychic power. She once used this ability to turn Galactus's power against him, showing that there is almost no limit to the strength of the power she can absorb.
- Telepathic Illusions: By altering the mind's sensory system, Jean can cause her target to perceive things that are not there or vice versa. She can also affect a target's perception of her, allowing her to appear invisible. By cloaking her psychic presence, this ability can work on other telepaths as well.
By projecting her psychic energy onto her environment, Jean can exert force on the objects around her. Jean can control hundreds of objects at one time, and her telekinetic grip is strong enough to stop an airliner mid-flight, restrain the Juggernaut, who could lift a skyscraper, and hold together a collapsing space station. Jean's more unique telekinetic powers include:
- Fine Control: Jean is so precise in the use of her telekinetic powers that she can manipulate matter on the cellular level. She can safely remove nanomachines from a person's body, dismantle technology, generate heat by stimulating molecules, and cause her enemies' weapons to disintegrate. She can even affect internal organs, such as knocking people out by stopping their blood flow.
- Flight: By using telekinesis on her own body or those of others, Jean can simulate flight.
- Force Fields: Jean can create telekinetic shields to protect her and her allies from harm. These shields block physical attacks, energy blasts, and the telekinesis of other psychics. Jean's shields are strong enough to block punches from Abomination, who is strong enough to lift buildings and shake mountains, and protect the X-Men from an explosion powerful enough to obliterate an entire island. Jean can also use force fields offensively by trapping her opponents within them or create a personal field that contains air, allowing her to survive in the vacuum of space.
- Psychic Blasts: Jean can launch bolts of pure telekinetic energy as projectiles. These blasts are powerful enough to knock over building-sized Sentinels.
- Psychic Firebird: Jean's power can be manifested as a massive, flaming bird made up of pure psychic energy. The firebird can attack targets both mentally and physically and no shield has proven capable of stopping it.
- Telekinetic Weapons: By using a technique picked up from her fellow X-Man, Psylocke, Jean can create weaponry out of pure psychic energy. These weapons can inflict physical damage, mental damage, or both, as per Jean's wishes.
Sidious is an unrelenting monster of a human being who delights in violence. His sadistic tendencies often lead him to inflict horrible tortures upon his enemies and even his subordinates if they fail him. He uses his force powers in a variety of ways to inflict pain, such as slowly killing them with lightning or even repeatedly transferring their essence just to kill them again. His sadism can be detrimental, such as when his decision to torture Luke Skywalker led to him being distracted and killed for the first time, but all of Sidious's victims can be assured that they will suffer before the end.
As their ultimate goal is to increase the acceptance of mutants among humanity, the majority of the X-Men, including Jean, prefer not to kill their enemies if possible. Therefore, Jean usually attempts to defeat her enemies by telekinetically restraining them or rendering them unconscious through telepathy. However, Jean has been known to kill if she deems it necessary to save lives. When killing is on the table, Jean still tries to make her enemies' deaths as painless as possible, usually by doing something as simple as "turning off" their minds. She's got no issue with killing monsters, though.
As of The Empire Strikes Back, Palpatine has been a Sith for nearly seven decades, but has seen very little true combat; his experience in battle is mostly limited to his training with his master and apprentices. Much of his time has been spent working his way up the political ladder of the Galactic Republic and devising plans for the Empire, and much of the violence necessary to his schemes was done through his apprentices or other agents. However, his skill and talent for the Force has enabled him to overcome a handful of experienced Force-users in duels, such as Darth Maul, Savage Opress, and Mace Windu. He even proved to be an even match for Yoda, a Jedi Master with hundreds of years of experience.
As expected of an X-Man, Jean has seen more than her fair share of combat. Constantly going on missions to protect the world has become a way of life for her and her comrades, and their numerous foes include Magneto's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, robots, mutant-hunters, dinosaurs, aliens, monsters, and countless others, not to mention her multiple experiences with struggling against the Phoenix Force. Most significantly, she has experience in fighting against several opponents with powers that are similar to hers, such as Emma Frost, Susan Storm, Apocalypse, and Madelyne Pryor, who is a clone of Jean with all of her powers.
Beneath all her telekinetic powers and defenses, Jean's body is, for the most part, that of a normal human. However, her mental powers have improved her reaction speed to superhuman levels, allowing her to perceive a sniper's bullet in mid-flight and telekinetically catch it before it can reach its target, or use her powers on Spider-Man faster than his precognitive spider-sense could warn him. Her stamina is also very impressive, as was demonstrated by the time she used her powers to help wounded civilians for three straight days and the numerous arduous psychic battles she has participated in.
Although he has the body of a feeble, old man, Sidious can use numerous Force powers to enhance his physical abilities. With Force Valor, Battlemind, and Force Body, he can give himself a superior form of an adrenaline rush, allowing him improved stamina, reflexes, and the ability to power through otherwise fatal wounds, such as a sustained blast from his own Force Lightning. With Force Speed, he can rush at and cut down opponents before they can react, moving so quickly that he appears invisible to security cameras. With Force Rage, he can tap into his hatred to boost his strength and speed even further, to the point that he could slay two Jedi Masters in close combat effortlessly, although he cannot maintain this additional boost for very long.
Palpatine has been studying the ways of the Sith ever since he was a child. His searches for ancient texts and artifacts that detailed lost Sith lore were what initially brought him to the attention of Darth Plagueis. Plagueis, the latest in a line of Sith that stretched back for a thousand years, who trained Palpatine as his apprentice for several decades, both teaching him mastery of Force powers and fostering his talent for manipulation. Palpatine's training was extremely harsh, with Plagueis often abandoning him in hostile environments where he was forced to master his abilities to survive. After completing his own training, Palpatine trained three apprentices of his own: Maul, Tyranus, and Vader.
Jean first enrolled in Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters at the age of ten, and she has been training to master her powers ever since. Her time with the X-Men, X-Factor, and the other mutant superhero teams she has been a part of all involved frequent training, often on a daily basis in the X-Mansion's Danger Room, where all sorts of potential scenarios could be simulated. After a brief experience with time travel, a younger Jean from the past trained with the modern X-Men, changing the past so that she received some training even earlier than before. Jean can also bolster her knowledge by absorbing the experiences of others through telepathy.
- The battle takes place at the X-Mansion.
- Jean is as she was after the events of Phoenix Resurrection, in which Jean absolutely renounced the Phoenix Force, so it will play no part in the battle. Palpatine is as he was during the events of The Empire Strikes Back.
- The battle ends with death, retreat, or incapacitation. Both warriors have methods of preserving their minds beyond death and returning to life, but save for Palpatine transferring his essence directly into Jean's body, death will always count as a loss.