As much as I like the Star Wars universe, I used to avoid Star Wars comics because they were really hit or miss for me. Some (well let’s face it, most) of the comics that were put out used to be pretty bad. But in 2015 Marvel relaunched their Star Wars comic book line with a monthly series simply titled Star Wars and a Darth Vader ongoing title as well. Since then Marvel has expanded their regular comics roster to include a Poe Dameron series and a Doctor Aphra book as well. Many of you may not be familiar with the latter but we’ll remedy that shortly.
Let’s blast off with Star Wars! This book takes place after the events in A New Hope but before The Empire Strikes Back. Writer Jason Aaron and artist John Cassaday take us to the moments where the Empire is still shaking off the heavy blow The Rebellion dealt them. The Emperor and Vader want the pilot responsible for the destruction of the Death Star and they want him badly. Not skipping a beat though, the Rebellion is already plotting even more strategic hits against the Empire while Luke goes back to Tatooine and seeks out Obi-Wan’s old house where he finds his journal of the time the old Jedi Knight watched over him in the shadows as he grew up, and yes it’s fantastic. Excerpts from Obi-Wan Kenobi’s journal are depicted sporadically in their own issues between story arcs and they’re some of my favorite books in this series.
Now over in the Darth Vader book, it takes place during the same time as the Star Wars title. The Empire is scouring the galaxy for the pilot responsible for the destruction of the Death Star. This leads to one of my favorite Star Wars story arcs called Vader Down. This is a crossover tale that goes between the Star Wars book, the Darth Vader book and includes the Vader Down one-shot. I highly recommend this story which I’m fairly certain you can get in a collected volume now. Writer Kieron Gillen and artist Salvador Larocca sadly decided to end their stellar run with issue #25. These books were very well done and worth it just for Larocca’s breathtaking photo realistic artwork alone. Darth Vader re-launched again in June of 2017 with a new #1. This book now being written by Charles Soule and drawn by Giuseppe Camuncoli takes place RIGHT after the events in Revenge of the Sith and before A New Hope and yes, it’s still great.
And now comes the enigmatic Doctor Chelli Lona Aphra. Is she a good guy, is she a bad guy nobody including the character herself is too clear on that. She’s worked with Darth Vader, she’s tried to capture Luke Skywalker for bounty, and yet she’s helped out the Rebellion. One thing is clear: Aphra is always looking out for her own best interests. She reminds me of a cross between Boba Fett and Laura Croft. Not only does Doctor Aphra’s monthly book have a fresh and exciting new take on the Star Wars universe, but it features a stellar cast of supporting characters as well. She’s recruited a pair of droids (think of them as the homicidal versions of R2-D2 and C-3PO) named BT-1 and 0-0-0 and a ruthless black furred Wookie warrior named Black Krrsantan to help her in her (mis) adventures.
Now we turn the spotlight to the Poe Dameron ongoing series. This book started in April of 2016 and is still going fairly strong. I was really excited when Marvel announced this book because Poe was my favorite new character that was introduced in The Force Awakens. But despite being done by a phenomenal writer, Charles Soule (who writes killer Daredevil, X-Men, and Darth Vader books) this comic just doesn’t hold my interest, I found it to be a little dull and unengaging. The story takes place before the events in The Force Awakens and I think that may be part of the problem. This era in the Star Wars universe is still so new that I wonder if Soule is being constrained and can’t really do a whole lot with these characters at this particular point in time. I feel like maybe a lot of the characters in The Force Awakens stories are still yet to be told and writing them into cannon in a prequel sense maybe detrimental confining to the movie arcs.
As I mentioned before, along with the new ongoing Star Wars titles Marvel puts out every month there are a slew of mini-series and one off’s the company pumps out as well. These sadly are hit or miss and in my humble opinion mostly misses. But as much as I like Star Wars, I usually give most of them a 1 to three issue chance before I throw in the towel. Han Solo, Princess Leia, Darth Maul, Chewbacca, Captain Phasma and Mace Windu are some of the characters that have received their own miniseries lately. Some of my favorite series that have come out though have been Lando Calrissian (published in July of 2015) that tells the tragic story of Lando and Lobot’s friendship, Obi-Wan & Anakin (Published in January of 2016) which takes place during the time right after Qui-Gon Jinn’s death in the Phantom Menace when Anakin is still really young and before Attack of the Clones. A time I feel hasn’t been explored too much in any form of media. And lastly C-3PO (published in April of 2016) a one and done book that takes prior to The Force Awakens that tells the story on how C-3PO got that red arm. There is actually a very heartbreaking story behind it that’s worth seeking out this book to find out.
My point of this article is to hopefully get those that love the Star Wars cinematic universe to go pick up some of these titles. The world of Star Wars comics is small and easy to jump into and there are some really exciting things being revealed in these books about your favorite old characters as well as introducing thrilling new ones popping up all the time. Now is as good a time as any to jump in head first young Padawans and add these stories to the Jedi Archives of your mind!