Star Wars is a media empire. Of course, it began with movies in 1977. Now, there are streaming TV shows, video games, more movies, novelizations, and comic books. In fact, there have been Star Wars comic books based on George Lucas’s space opera since 1978, the year after A New Hope first hit theaters.
For over 40 years, Jedi and Sith have battled it out in the glossies. But of course, Star Wars is much bigger than Jedi and Sith. Partly because of these comics, the universe of Star Wars has grown, filled with generals, pilots, monsters, aliens, planets sparse or densely populated, and so much more. For each character you see in the movies, you can find a comic book series (or five) telling stories of their life, their species, and their home planet. Periods thousands of years before and after the events of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader have been detailed panel by panel. After four decades of comics, how do you figure out what to read? Where do you start?
I’m here to help with this list of 12 of the absolute best, stellar Star Wars comics that need to be in your TBR right now. May the Force be with you.
Star Wars (2015) by Jason Aaron and Stuart Immonen
When Lucasfilm and Marvel came under the same banner under Disney, Star Wars came back to Marvel Comics after years with Dark Horse. To kick off the return, Marvel tapped Jason Aaron to write the first comic in the new canon. Picking up from the end of A New Hope, this comic filled the gap between that first film and The Empire Strikes Back.
Star Wars: Age of Resistance Special by Tom Taylor, G. Willow Wilson, Chris Eliopoulos, Matteo Buffagni, and more
This one shot is three stories in one comic. From an all-star list of writers and artists, these stories expand on several characters introduced in the final trilogy of Star Wars films: Vice Admiral Holdo, Maz, Poe Dameron, and BB-8. Love or hate the recent trilogy, these stories flesh out these characters that we otherwise barely know.
Star Wars: Crimson Empire by Mike Richardson, Randy Stradley, and Paul Gulacy
Kir Kanos was the last surviving member of Palpatine’s Royal Guard after the destruction of the second Death Star. This is his story, bloody and filled with revenge. This is one of those great Star Wars stories that takes a nameless, faceless character from the movies and turns them into an incredible, complex person.
Star Wars: Darth Vader (2015) by Kieran Gillen, Salvador Larroca, and Leinil Francis Yu
Alongside the main Star Wars comic listed above, Marvel Comics tapped Kieran Gillen to write the story of Darth Vader between the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. It covers some pivotal character moments for Vader, like discovering that his son has survived, leading up to the fateful confrontation in Cloud City.
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020) by Alyssa Wong and Marika Cresta
Introduced in Star Wars: Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra is an archeologist employed by the Sith Lord until she faked her own death and joined the Rebellion. While her character was fleshed out in the 2016 Star Wars: Doctor Aphra comic, the 2020 ongoing series finally gives the character room to breath, live, and explore her place in the the galaxy.
Star Wars: Jedi – Aayla Secura by John Ostrander and Jan Duursema
This is another one-shot story, this time focused on the Twi’lek Jedi Aayla Secura. In this Legends (non-canonical) story, Secura goes undercover with Separatists. Inevitably, her cover is blown and she has to fight Aurra Sing, the famed Jedi killer and bounty hunter, to survive and escape.
Star Wars Omnibus: Knights of the Old Republic by John Jackson Miller, Brian Ching, Travel Foreman, Harvey Tolibao, and Dustin Weaver
The Knights of the Old Republic video game has been lauded for a long time. This comic book series of the same name and set in the same time period is just as good. Set thousands of years before Luke Skywalker, this story focuses on Padawan Zayne Carrick, framed for murder by his own masters and finding refuge with a motley crew of space-farers while trying to clear his name.
Star Wars: Legacy by John Ostrander and Jan Duursema
Here’s another Legends story, this time set thousands of years after Luke Skywalker, focused on Cade Skywalker. He’s a smuggler and bounty hunter, trying to distance himself from his name and his legacy. Of course, the Force has other ideas, pulling yet another Skywalker into the center of a battle for the galaxy’s soul. Legacy is one of the essential, stellar Star Wars comics.
Star Wars: Mara Jade: By the Emperor’s Hand by Timothy Zahn, Michael Stackpole, and Carlos Ezquerra
Ah, Mara Jade. She’s the character from the Legends material that probably gets the biggest outcry hoping to see her in the new canon. But hey, the stories are still there to read, so what does canon really matter? This story focuses on her time as Emperor’s Hand right after Palpatine’s apparent death. Loyal to a dead Sith Lord and a fallen empire, she’s still trying to complete her final mission.
Star Wars: Princess Leia by Mark Waid, Terry Dodson, and Rachel Dodson
Princess. General. Rebel. Space Mom. The final of the three Star Wars comics launched after Marvel took over in 2015, this is the story of Leia building the Rebellion after the destruction of the first Death Star and her own home planet. The Empire is rounding up surviving Alderaanians, and Leia is having none of that.
Star Wars: Purge by John Ostrander and Doug Wheatley
This one-shot Legends story covers a period of time that has actually seen a lot of canonical stories recently: the immediate aftermath of Order 66. The legendary John Ostrander pens this one focused on Darth Vader as he hunts a small band of Jedi trying to escape the Sith Lord.
Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi by Tom Veitch, Chris Gossett, Janine Johnston, and David Roach
This is technically the second volume of Tales of the Jedi, digging into the history of the Old Republic and the Great Hyperspace War thousands of years before Luke Skywalker. Remember hearing about the great Sith Empire long before the Rule of Two? This Legends story has all of that history and drama.
Okay, Star Wars fans. Let me have it. What are your favorite stellar Star Wars comics that I didn’t mention? What part of the Legends stories just HAVE TO be canon?