A Galaxy Far, Far Away: Exploring the Best Star Wars Comics

After the success of the original “Star Wars” film in 1977, millions of people worldwide wanted to know more about the lore of the franchise. Since coming out with a new movie every month to go more in-depth on the series would be nearly impossible, comic books were quickly added. In fact, the first comics were released three months before the initial film’s release and detailed the events of the movie that people had yet to see.

Once the movie became one of the biggest box office hits of all time, the comics expanded to more than just film adaptations. Marvel created the comics from the start and held on to the publishing rights for the first decade until Dark Horse Comics took over. IDW Publishing also had its hand in the Star Wars franchise until both Marvel and Dark Horse re-entered the fray. There have been several hundred issues and dozens of graphic novels in the Star Wars franchise thus far, but which ones are the best? Here are our picks for the five best Star Wars comics across all eras.

Star Wars: Legacy

During its original run with Dark Horse Comics, Star Wars introduced the “Legacy” series which was published between 2006 and 2010. Over the course of 50 issues, “Legacy” continues the Skywalker story, but does so long after the film story of Luke Skywalker. His descendant, Cade, is featured more than a century following the events of the movie’s original trilogy, and the new antagonist is Darth Krayt, the leader of the new Galactic Empire.

Cade follows a much different path than Luke in the fact that he wasn’t classically trained by a Jedi, but rather lives with bounty hunters and is reluctant of his heritage. Eventually, Luke returns as a ghost and steers Cade in the right direction as he sets off to take on the new Empire. Without spoiling anything, it’s a classic Star Wars tale with great set pieces and new characters.

Darth Vader

Of course, you can’t talk about the Star Wars story without mentioning perhaps the most famous character, Darth Vader. There have been plenty of Darth Vader stories told throughout the Star Wars franchise, and among the best is the Darth Vader series started by Marvel in 2020. The story takes place between the events during “Return of the Jedi” after Luke said that he wouldn’t join his father as part of the Empire.

The movie then follows the adventures of Luke prior to his return to the Death Star, whereas the comic book series shows what Darth Vader was up to at that time. There’s also a look back into Vader’s past. Sure, there had been a backstory for Vader that was brought up during the prequel trilogy, but the comic book series gives him more history as Vader instead of as Anakin.

Knights of the Old Republic

Many people think of the video game series when they hear “Knights of the Old Republic”, but the comic book series was also a major hit with Star Wars fans. Like “Legacy”, “Knights of the Old Republic” is a Dark Horse series that started in 2006 before wrapping up in 2010. Also like “Legacy”, it ran for 50 issues.

“Knights of the Old Republic” follows the story of a wide range of characters including Zayne Carrick a Padawan who sets out on a mission to retrieve a famous smuggler in order to be promoted to the rank of Jedi Knights. However, Carrick is late to graduation and a case of mistaken identity ensues as he and his captive become allies as they try to obtain freedom.

Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi

We go back in time a little bit for our next series, “Tales of the Jedi”, which was published by Dark Horse from 1993 to 1998. This series is part of the expanded universe that details both the Great Hyperspace and the Great Sith Wars. The original “Knights of the Old Republic” series was five issues long and was included with “Tales of the Jedi”, with other miniseries added including “The Freedon Nadd Uprising” and “Dark Lords of the Sith”.

Following the success of the original trilogy, there hadn’t been much backstory for Star Wars outside of the main characters. The “Tales of the Jedi” city fixes that, giving Star Wars diehards a lot of lore to sift through during the 1990s and helping bring in a new generation of franchise faithful.

Vader: Dark Visions

While the other comics on the list ran through multiple years, the “Vader: Dark Visions” series was much shorter with only five issues between March and June of 2019. The Marvel Comics production shows Vader in a much different light than what some people are accustomed to seeing. Even the cover of Vader riding a horse while carrying a shield, which is an immediate attention-grabber.

Vader gets a bit of hero treatment throughout the series, too. What makes it even more interesting is that the series is canon, so fans will really get a new sense of the Star Wars lore that they didn’t know about.

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