The Last Jedi is less than a month away, and the need for a Star Wars fix has never been stronger. Whether you’re looking for something while you wait for the newest movie to debut or to keep that Star Wars high going, there’s a lot of excellent spinoff stories being produced within the new continuity at Disney. There are some excellent television and novels out there, but nothing comes close to the Star Wars comics being produced by Marvel Comics right now. Since the line was revitalized in 2015, it has been one of the publisher’s best sellers -- and their most regularly praised set of titles.
That’s why we’re here to provide some recommendations on where to start. Even though Marvel Comics has continued to print some of the classic collections, we’re staying focused on the current continuity and what’s available right now instead of a long, long time ago. These are our top five picks for Star Wars comics from Marvel for anyone interested in exploring more of the mythos between movies. It’s a collection of ongoing series, mini-series, and one shots, but they all have one thing in common: They capture the magic of the films. It’s not an easy thing to accomplish, but these comics are really the next best thing to sitting down in a theater for The Last Jedi or whatever comes next.
Star Wars #1-6
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by John Cassaday
Colors by Laura Martin
In our review of Star Wars #1, we called this “the perfect Star Wars comic” and stand by those words. From the opening scrawl to the grand spreads, this comic is filled with every element fans came to love in the movies. Aaron captures the voices of characters wonderfully, matching the pithy humor of Han Solo and the courageous voice of Princess Leia with shocking accuracy. Cassaday set the standard for realistic artwork within this first collection of the series as he captured the essence of the original actors without ever tracing their appearances and diving into the uncanny valley.
Star Wars under Aaron’s leadership, and now that of Kieron Gillen, has always resembled lost episodes between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. It’s not difficult to imagine these plots being realized in a different reality. Yet they are perfectly at home in comics as renowned artists like Cassaday execute them with all the awe to be found in a printed format. New worlds are discovered, alien races met, and adventures had within the first six issues of Star Wars, and it forms the perfect starting point for any fan of the series looking to try out the comics.
Droids Unplugged #1
Words and Art by Chris Eliopoulos
Colors by Jordie Bellaire
All-ages can be a dirty word for some elements of fandom, but it really shouldn’t be. A New Hope is an all-ages film filled with wonder, joy, and important morals. That’s the same spirit that can be found within cartoonist Chris Eliopoulos’ work on Star Wars. Eliopoulos initially created a series of mostly silent backup features for ongoing series, each of which featured a different droid from the far, far away universe. These short stories were so popular that they were later collected into a one-shot to showcase these quirky tales.
We defended Eliopoulos as being the best Star Wars artist due to his unique approach to the source material and grasp of key themes. It’s another point we will absolutely stand by. Each of these stories are a delight and can be shared with fans who saw the first film in 1977 as well as youngsters who aren’t quite ready to sit quietly at the movies. These tales are funny and filled with hope, which is just what we need from Star Wars right now.
Written by Gerry Duggan
Art by Phil Noto
Who doesn’t love Chewbacca? That isn’t a rhetorical question; if you know someone who doesn’t like Chewbacca, please point them out so we can get them help. This lovable furball has been a fan favorite since the very first film and his Marvel miniseries only helps to clarify why that love is so well earned. On a solo mission Chewbacca becomes stranded and decides to help a group of laborers being abused by the empire.
The combination of Noto’s lush, painterly art and Duggan’s clever script (which never translates a single word Chewbacca says) makes this one of the best pairings of any Star Wars comic to date. The lack of language also helps to show off the comics medium as Noto makes every action and emotion from Chewie perfectly clear. This is a feel good story that’s still loaded with action and humor - in other words, a great Star Wars story.
Darth Vader #1-6
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Salvador Larroca
Colors by Edgar Delgado
Darth Vader is the crown jewel of Marvel Comics’ Star Wars line. It managed to be a consistently popular and praised ongoing series featuring crossovers and introducing new characters that wrapped up in an incredibly satisfying manner. Doctor Aphra and her murderous droid companions now feature in their own spinoff series, while Darth Vader’s writer has been given the reins of the core Star Wars series. This is as good as it gets for big Star Wars comics.
What Gillen and his collaborators got right about Vader was exactly what made him compelling in the films. He is relentless, destructive, and without compassion. Each new arc of the series made Vader even more worthy of the fear his opponent’s provided him as we cut a swath through rebels and traitors. Even the charming supporting cast of the series didn’t stand a chance. Rather than redefine this iconic character, Darth Vader reminded readers of why he is still one of the best villains ever created.
Star Wars Special: C-3PO #1
Written by James Robinson
Art by Tony Harris
This one-shot featuring C-3PO and the story of how he got his red arm in The Force Awakens is everything Darth Vader is not. It features one of the least liked characters in Star Wars and answers a question no one was really asking. Yet it is the best Star Wars story published by Marvel Comics to date.
This single issue tells the stories of a diverse set of droids struggling to survive in perilous conditions. They don’t all make it, but their true characters are revealed and their actions inspire hope and courage. It’s a minor tale within the Star Wars universe, but all of the key elements of the series can be found within its pages. The inventive settings, big personalities, and focus on individual bravery all make for a single, digestible story that can inspire. While C-3PO may be no one’s favorite character, this story might be your new favorite Star Wars comic.