The 10 Best Star Wars Comics Every Fan of the Franchise Must-Read

starwars comics mobile
Marvel Comics

Star Wars can largely be credited with popularizing the idea of an “extended universe” outside of movies, and it has an extensive library of truly fantastic comics to show for it. From seedy cantinas to ancient temples, the best Star Wars comics have taken fans to every corner of the galaxy

While some of those follow familiar characters like the Skywalker family, others tell the stories of wholly original casts that help flesh out the universe and make it feel more alive.

While none of the very early Star Wars comics make an appearance on this list, the rundown will consist of both the “Legends” stories from the 1990s to the mid-2010s and the newer “Canon” stories published by Marvel after Star Wars was acquired by Disney.

1. 'Crimson Empire' (1997)

Crimson1 copy
Dark Horse Comics

At its best, The Crimson Empire feels like a true Star Wars samurai story. With the Emperor dead and one of his former officers seizing power, the last of his royal guards – those Stormtroopers with the awesome red capes in Return of the Jedi – is on the run. He becomes, functionally, a rōnin on a quest to avenge Palpatine.

Crimson Empire, written by Mike Richardson and Randy Stradley and illustrated by Paul Gulacy and P. Craig Russell, offers a fascinating look at the twisted sense of order and loyalty within the ranks of the Empire’s most fanatical officers.

Buy now ($11.49)

2. 'Star Wars Tales' (1999)

Star Wars Tales v1 Legends copy
Dark Horse Comics

Star Wars Tales is an anthology, a collection of stories across various eras telling stories – some “canonical” and some very obviously not. They’re hit or miss, but they’re a refreshing precursor to Star Wars: Visions in that they show different ideas of what the franchise means to different creative teams.

Some of the stories are comical and absurd, most notoriously one that says the droid the Lars family initially picked instead of R2-D2 was force sensitive and committed suicide to force them to take in R2. Another is a strangely prescient depiction of the Galactic Empire as a Disney parody. Others are serious and well-written one-shots, like Darth Vader hunting down a certain Jedi he has a personal connection to or one of Han’s early smuggling jobs. Most of them aren’t galaxy-shattering in their scope, but they’re a fun collection of stories.

Buy now ($19.64)

3. 'Poe Dameron' (2016)

Poedameron vol1 final copy
Marvel Comics

Force Awakens starts too late in the story, with the war in the shadows between the Resistance and the First Order coming into the light halfway into the movie. Poe Dameron is set in a more interesting time period: when the two secretive groups rely on small-scale covert action to undermine each other but avoid a full-on war.

Poe Dameron, written by Charles Soule and masterfully illustrated by Phil Noto, thrives in that Cold War. In this story, Poe is as much a spy as he is a pilot. Much of the beautiful action is set in the cockpit, where we get to know every character in his squad intimately, but the real heart of the story is a hunt for a mole after it’s revealed someone in this trusted group is a double agent.

Buy now ($10.34)

4. 'Dark Empire (1991)

Star Wars Legends Epic Collection The New Republic Vol 5 revised cover copy
Dark Horse/Marvel

That Dark Empire is still so readable even after its plot was scrapped together for The Rise of Skywalker is a testament to the creative team of Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy. Dark Empire and the Thrawn Trilogy famously helped reignite the Star Wars fandom in the early 1990s.

The highlights might sound familiar: Emperor Palpatine has returned in the body of a clone with an arsenal that threatens to tear apart everything the Rebels built in the wake of Return of the Jedi. But Dark Empire wisely chooses to anchor that action in the compelling relationships of its central cast, allowing Luke and Lei a to grow as reconnected siblings in a way they didn’t at the end of Return of the Jedi or even through the Thrawn trilogy.

It’s not perfect, but Dark Empire gets so much right that it’s easy to see how it had such an impact when it came out.

Buy now ($18.99)

5. 'Republic' (1998)

Preludetorebellion copy
Marvel Comics

Launching on the eve of Phantom Menace and just called Star Wars at the time, the series later called Star Wars: Republic was one of the first and among the best stories before and during the Clone Wars.

The various arcs followed Jedi like Mace Windu and Ki-Adi-Mundi on adventures at the twilight of their order’s golden age. The series likewise featured a wide range of writers and artists over its run, with enough creative freedom to bring different visual and narrative tones to each arc.

The series would, perhaps most famously, flesh out background characters from Episode I like Quinlan Vos and Aurra Sing, turning them into beloved characters recurring as recently as the Kenobi show.

There isn’t an accessible reprint of Republic. The first volume is available for $32.47, but you’d be better off finding it as “Star Wars (1998-2002)” on Marvel Unlimited.

Buy Now ($32.47)

6. 'Star Wars: Legacy' (2006)

star wars legacy vol 1
Marvel Comics

Star Wars: Legacy is probably best known for its cartoonishly edgy protagonist Cade Skywalker and the intensely sexualized Darth Talon. On paper, Legacy would be a disaster. Still, the John Ostrander and Dan Parsons series is an incredible series that takes the best lessons of the rich epics set in the Old Republic (more on those later in the list) and transposes them into a far-future.

Don’t let Cade Skywalker’s very 2006 “bad boy” look fool you; the real star of Legacy is its setting. The galaxy is at war, but the sides are more fractured than the simple Empire vs. Rebels or Jedi vs. Sith of the past. There’s a spiritual rift within those factions, with the secular Alliance and Empire as much at odds with the fanatical Sith and extremely pacifist Jedi as they are with each other.

Legacy also features some of the best battles in the canon of Star Wars comics, with a highlight being a multi-issue Battle of Mon Calamari that feels like Master and Commander in space.

Buy now ($20)

7. 'Doctor Aphra' (2016)

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Marvel Comics

Amoral archeologist and freelance agent of the Empire Doctor Chelli Lona Aphra was the breakout star of Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader series, and her solo book with Gillen and Kev Walker on art did not disappoint. Aphra was the first character created in the new canon to get her solo series. Unlike established characters like Luke or Vader, there’s no established end hanging over Aphra’s head. As Aphra fumbles and improvises her way through the galaxy, the threats against her feel real and dangerous.

Just as the Darth Vader book wisely built up strong and original supporting characters, many of them follow Aphra into this series, and her cast grows organically with each arc. But the tragedy of Aphra is that her greed and selfishness mean that it’s usually only a matter of time before those characters are turned against her.

In the very black-and-white ethics of Star WarsAphra is a delightful shade of gray.

Buy now ($16.99)

8. 'Tales of the Jedi' (1996)

Tales of the Jedi Epic Collection Vol 2 copy
Marvel Comics

If the Galactic Civil War and the Clone Wars somewhat evoke World War 2/Vietnam and World War 1, Tales of the Jedi feels like a glimpse into the settings’ medieval period. Tales of the Jedi is a brilliant story of intrigue and war on a cosmic scale that both feels familiar enough to the Star Wars we know and love while still feeling wholly unique in its own way.

The story is written by Star Wars extended universe veterans Tom Veitch and Kevin J. Anderson, with a dozen artists moving on and off the project through its run. It tells the story of first contact with the Sith Empire and their war against the Republic and the Jedi. While an army of Jedi fighting droids or a handful of light and dark side users facing off is still exciting, nothing beats scenes of galactic conquest with scores of Jedi and Sith battling for the fate of the galaxy.

It also helps that Tales of the Jedi is maybe the best depiction of the Sith in the Star Wars franchise, shown here as a truly alien and malevolent cult.

Buy now ($24.99)

9. 'Darth Vader' (2015)

Darth Vader Volume 1 hardcover final cover copy
Marvel Comics

There are, to date, three Darth Vader titles in the new canon, and every one of them is a hit, but the best of them is still the Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca one that was the standout of the relaunch of Star Wars comics in 2015.

Gillen’s Vader is possibly the best the character has ever been outside the movies. After the destruction of the Death Star, Vader is at a rare moment of weakness within the hierarchy of the Empire, and the sharks of the Imperial Navy smell blood. Vader must contend with threats he can’t just slash through or choke, and the book excels in showing that Vader has learned much about subterfuge from his master.

Gillen also populates the book with an incredible cast of supporting characters unparalleled in any Star Wars book and particularly unexpected in a story centering around as murderous a character as Vader.

The book also shows the moment Vader learned Luke Skywalker’s identity, which quickly became one of the most iconic scenes in the new canon.

Buy now ($16.99)

10. 'Knights of the Old Republic'

KotOR Omnibus copy
Marvel Comics

This series tends to be overshadowed by the legendary game of the same name and possibly the best Star Wars content movies. The Knights of the Old Republic comic series by John Jackson Miller, with art by Brian Ching and Bong Dazo, still stands the test of time as the greatest Star Wars comic series. Aside from a few cameos, the only thing Knights of the Old Republic shares with the game is its setting.

Zayne Carrick is a mediocre padawan; he’s clumsy and a little lazy. But when he’s framed for the murder of his fellow padawans, Zayne is forced to go on the run with a small crew of outlaws. Zayne crosses that galaxy with one of the best-found families in Star Wars as he tries to find a way to clear his name.

All of this is set against the backdrop of the Mandalorian Wars referenced in the game when the Mandalorians went to war with the Republic. The Knights of the Old Republic is an epic story that balances everything you could want in a Star Wars story. The full cast is fantastic, the “Wars” in question are operatic, and there are many morally murky questions about who provides oversight for the Jedi to say when they go too far.

Buy now ($14.99)
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