One of the best aspects of the Star Wars expanded canon is the comics. They’ve been opportunities to develop minor characters, fill in the gaps between movies and create new worlds for the characters to explore. Marvel was the first company to have the official license for Star Wars comics. They began releasing the comics in 1977, the year the first movie came out. Initially they just adapted the film, but soon began to branch out into their own stories. The comics sold like gangbusters, saving Marvel from financial ruin. But Marvel decided to drop the license when writer Archie Goodwin left the company on 1991. Dark Horse then picked up the license and became the main publisher of Star Wars comics until 2014. Then Disney bought Lucasfilm. Naturally, they wanted Marvel to produce the new Star Wars comics since they also owned Marvel. With the casting off of the old Expanded Universe, the writers and artists at Marvel had free reign to create new stories for the new Star Wars canon. With forty years of comics history, it was hard to pick ten comics to spotlight. So we chose the comics that would best enhance your understanding of canon and characters.
Here are 10 Star Wars Comic Book Stories Every Star Wars Fan Should Read:
The Star Wars
Reading The Star Wars is a jarring and surreal experience. It’s not part of the official or discontinued Star Wars canon. Rather, it’s a comic adapted from the George Lucas’ first drafts of what would become the movies we know and love. Luke Skywalker is a retired general training Annikan Starkiller. Together the pair protects the Princess Leia from Imperial forces. They run into a tall, lizard-like version of Han Solo who has a reputation for hunting Wookies! While not part of any canon, The Star Wars shows how much the universe changed from George Lucas’ original vision to the final product we see on screen. The art draws from early storyboards for inspiration, and the script’s similarity to The Hidden Fortress shows just how much George Lucas was influenced by the film. This comic is a must read for anyone wanting to understand and appreciate the evolution of the Star Wars universe.Advertisement
Knights of the Old Republic: Commencement
No matter what Disney and Lucasfilm decide, The Knights of the Old Republic will always be canon in our hearts. Both the videogame and the accompanying comics showed us the Star Wars galaxy at the height of the Jedi Order’s time and all the adventures the guardians of peace and justice got up to. Commencement, as the title suggests begins the adventures of Jedi Padawan Zayne Carrick. When his fellow students are murdered and he’s framed for the crime, Zayne has to flee and team up with a former rival to escape The Jedi Order. As he works to clear his name, he teams up with a motley crew of aliens, humans and droids. The camaraderie and bonds we love in Star Wars and The Knights of the Old Republic games is fully present here. The comics are a great way to get more Old Republic content and Commencement is the best place to start reading!
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir
When The Clone Wars cartoon ended, the writers had a few unproduced scripts left. One became the novel Dark Disciple. The other became Son of Dathomir. It follows Darth Maul as he tries to do what any other great Sith Lord would do; take over the galaxy. This may sound crazy. Maul’s just one man, albeit a very powerful one. But Maul has Mandalorians, the Black Sun Syndicate and the Hutts on his side. Obviously, this is a comic perfect for fans of The Clone Wars and of Darth Maul. It’s fun to see Darth Maul try to succeed as a Sith, and it’s tragic to see him playing right into Palpatine’s wrinkly hands. Darth Maul is definitely a character who benefited from the supplemental materials. In the movies he’s just a silent henchman with a cool desgin. But The Clone Wars, Rebels and his comic series gave him personality, motives and goals of his own.
Star Wars: Chewbacca
It’s rare to see our favorite Wookie without Han Solo or any humans at his side. Even though Chewbacca was an essential cast member of the original Star Wars trilogy, it’s rare to see him take the spotlight for himself. This five-issue miniseries rectifies the lack of Chewbacca content. The comic follows Chewie after the Battle of Yavin. He ends up stranded on a planet while on a mission for the Rebel Alliance. While trying to find a way off-planet, he runs into a plucky, young girl who needs his help. The art by Phil Noto is gorgeous, and the writing by Gerry Dugan is sharp and high-quality. Together they beautifully overcome the challenge of telling a story about a character who can’t speak. They give Chewbacca the spotlight and attention he very much deserves.
Star Wars: Lando
Well, well, if it isn’t the handsomest son-of-a-gun in the galaxy. Everyone’s favorite suave, cape wearing businessman. The comic takes place well before turns respectable and started running Cloud City. He’s still in the swindling game in this comic and a perfect scoundrel. With Lobot at his side, Lando takes on the job of a lifetime. He succeeds in the heist… And finds out he’s bitten off more than he can chew as the best trackers in the galaxy are sent on his trail. What was supposed to be a get rich quick scheme turns into a fight for survival. Lando’s been neglected in the new canon. Apart from a brief appearance in Rebels, he’s been nowhere to be seen in the new movies or in supplemental materials. So a miniseries all about Lando is a breath of fresh air. It’s just great to see him again!
Star Wars: Princess Leia
This miniseries goes into essential questions that the movies never had time to answer. How did Leia react to the destruction of her home planet? What happened to the Alderaanians who were off planet when it blew? And what does it mean to be Alderaanian when your planet is gone? The comic picks up right where A New Hope ends at the medal ceremony and follows Leia as she tries to regroup the surviving but scattered Alderaanians. Leia is given the time to mourn and focus on her homeworld that the movies never gave her. It adds depth to Alderaan and its culture, since most of the supporting characters are from there. Speaking of supporting characters, Princess Leia introduces Evaan Verlainem, a Rebel pilot who has the personality and skills to keep up with our favorite princess. If you love Leia or want to know more about Alderaan, pick this up.
Star Wars: Skywalker Strikes
If you ever wondered what Luke, Han and Leia were up to between A New Hope and Empire Strikes back, wonder no longer. Pick up a copy of the main book of the Star Wars comics. After their stunning victory at the Battle of Yavin, the Rebels must strike while the iron is hot! But the Empire will not let them press their new found advantage. Meanwhile, Luke goes back to Tatooine and finds the journals of Old Ben Kenobi which provide a framing device for flashbacks to Old Ben’s days on Tatooine, a time fans have been dying to know about. Oh, and Boba Fett’s after Luke too. These comics are fun, full of rip-roaring action and are exactly what you expect Star Wars comics to be. And best of all, once you’ve finished Skywalker Strikes, there’s even more volumes out in print right now!
Star Wars: Darth Vader: Vader
You would think there would be tons of comics about Darth Vader. He’s by far the most popular character of the Star Wars franchise, making comic spin offs about him just make sense. But this series about the Dark Lord of the Sith didn’t start until 2015. Fortunately, it’s been going strong ever since. The comic follows Vader after the Empire’s defeat at the battle of Yavin and the Emperor is not happy with him. So now, Vader must accrue his political power back. He has the help of Doctor Aphra who is best described as “evil Indiana Jones” and a pair of droids who a clearly evil versions of C-3PO and R2-D2. And there’s also the matter of that Force-sensitive boy who got ahold of his old lightsaber. Darth Vader is a must read for anyone interested in the character. It shows off his brutal competency and sheer badassery as he climbs back to power. If you liked the scene in Rogue One where he massacres Rebels, give this series a try!
Star Wars: Vader Down
The first crossover between the Star Wars and Darth Vader comics is an epic one. Darth Vader, knowing Luke is his son, tracks him down to the planet Vrogas Vas. When he jumps out of hyperspace, he finds himself surrounded by Rebel X-Wings. An epic battle ensues and Luke Skywalker rams his X-Wing into Vader’s TIE Fighter, causing them both to crash on the planet surface. Vader is alone, stranded on a Rebel-held planet and has no weapons but his lightsaber. It’s the perfect opportunity for the Rebel Alliance to take down one of their greatest enemies, but they’ll find Vader won’t be so easy to kill. This crossover is as action-packed and exciting as one would expect from a Star Wars and Darth Vader crossover. The artists and writers’ styles blend together seamlessly and come together to tell a great story.
Star Wars: Shattered Empire
The comic focuses in on Shara Bay, wife of Kes Dameron and mother of Poe Dameron. After the Rebels’ victory at Endor, the Rebels find themselves with a lot of work to do. The Moffs are still jockeying for power and the galaxy is still in a state of unrest. As Shara goes on adventures with the main characters of the original Star Wars trilogy, she finds herself questioning her dedication to the Rebellion and if her work has any meaning. The miniseries gives a view of what happened after the Rebel’s victory, and the Empire’s last ditch attempts to stay in power. It’s essential reading for anyone who wants to know what happened next in the Star Wars saga.
Star Wars: Poe Dameron: Black Squadron
This chronicles the exploits and adventures of the Resistance's favorite son, the best pilot in the galaxy, and General Organa’s trusted agent, Poe Dameron. The comic follows Poe as he searches for Lor Sen Takka, the man who has a piece of the map to Luke Skywalker. But things get complicated when a First Order agent Terex also hunts for Takka… and develops a grudge against Poe. Poe’s adventures take him everywhere from the edge of the galaxy, to prisons, to the criminal underbelly of the Star Wars universe. Tensions rise between The First Order and The Resistance as they try to out maneuver and out play each other on the chase for the map piece. The side characters and villains are all interesting and get their moment in the spotlight. At the center is Poe, who is as charismatic and handsome as you remember him to be. If you want to know more about what happened before The Force Awakens, this is a great comic to read!