With today’s hotly anticipated release of Rogue One in theaters, we at the Marvel Report have been at a loss as to how to celebrate. While we’re wiling the day away waiting for our showings we figured we’d put together a handy dandy guide to Marvel Comics’s Star Wars titles. Disney and Marvel both have built a reputation on “It’s All Connected”. The brand builds off its own assets, in regards to everything from theme parks to studios. A Star Wars land is currently planned for Disneyland California as well as Walt Disney World, and the Disney company has relied on Marvel to create a series of brand new comic adventures to fill in their own expanded universe.
The Marvel: Star Wars comic books were the first official comics created for the film franchise. Begun in 1977 and running until 1986, the series spanned 107 issues with 3 annual issues. A number of others carried the title from that point including blackthorne publishing and Dark Horse comics. Dark Horse held the copyright until 2014. In 2015 the comics license returned from Dark Horse to Marvel comics, and Star Wars came home to Disney who had long had a relationship with the property, and Marvel, the original creators of the series.
Disney creates Legends out of previous material:
Upon acquisition of the Star Wars property, Disney declared the reams of material in the Star Wars universe outside of canon. They dubbed it Legends, in essence creating an alternate reality much like what Marvel does between the MCU and it’s 616 comic canon. From there it began to look for writers and a collection of Star Wars comics were born!
From Star Wars spanning the time between the first film (Episode IV) to Empire Strikes Back to the latest Captain Aphra, featuring the first woman of color leading the book, the Star Wars comics have bridged gaps, reached for inclusion, and expanded the Star Wars universe outside of Disney’s seven films and Disney XD series. Below we’ve collected a brief history of each Star Wars Book. If you’re looking for something to do while you’re waiting for the film (and you’re not deep in the official tie in novel Catalyst) hit your comixology account or local comicbook store and check out a few of our favorite titles.
“Star Wars” 1-25
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: John Cassaday, Simone Bianchi, Stuart Immonen.
Set between Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, the comic focuses on Luke Skywalker’s story arc and how he adjusts to the rebellion and a growing gift and interest in the Force. The series also takes time to focus on Han Solo whose commitment at the end of Star Wars is admittedly called into question. According to writer Jason Aaron, “Han is at an interesting point in his timeline. We don’t know how fully committed he is to the Rebellion and we’re in his very early relationship stages with Leia. And of course, you know with Han, his past is going to start catching up with him.”
Another major character in the series is Darth Vader, a Vader at the height of his power similar to what we’ve been told to expect in Rogue One. This character was so inspiring it inspired the second Marvel/Star Wars title: Darth Vader.
Darth Vader 1-25
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Salvador Larroca, Leinil Francis Yu
Citing inspiration from I Claudius, and The Godfather, The Darth Vader comics cover important moments for one of the most popular villains in cultural history. Covering moments where Vader discovers he has a son and that the emperor lied to him, Gillen paints a version of Vader who is part warrior part monk. Vader’s presence influences multiple characters, from new droids to Captain Aphra, a character who has just launched her own comic series.
Vader’s comic adds an emotional dimension often imagined by viewers who find themselves endeared to the monster turned despot, remembering the boy he was and the jedi he became before he fell to the darkside. Vader’s tragedy provides plenty of potential plot for multiple stories. The series holds a very special place in the hearts of many fans.
Princess Leia 1-5
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Terry Dodson
Beginning post the medal ceremony at the end of Star Wars, Princess Leia learns that the empire is hunting down any surviving citizens of Alderaan. Our comics editor had this to say about the comic:
As a new person to the Star Wars fandom, one of my favorite Star Wars comics to come out from the Marvel line is the Princess Leia mini series. The comic was released back in 2015 written by Mark Waid and pencilled by Terry Dodson. It was great to see a full story arc focused on Princess Leia without Han and Luke because we were able to see a different dynamic from Princess Leia with their absence.
We feel like that sums it up rather perfectly. Leia is top of our list of recommended Star Wars comics. From it’s writing to the dedicated female protagonist it’s a mini-series we very much recommend.
Han Solo 1-5
Writer: Majorie Liu
Artist: Mark Brooks
Fans of the galaxy’s favorite scoundrel must check out his series. Written by the unbelievably talented Majorie Liu (while you’re picking this up go and pick up Monstress too, you’ll be glad you did) and drawn with gorgeous detail by the very talented Mark Brooks, Han Solo’s story details – just that. The nitty gritty and pieces of his life that we’ve missed out on. It’s notable because who doesn’t love Han Solo (Jabba the Hutt, that’s who and there’s only one of him). It’s written by a woman of color, it’s absolutely amazing, and it features Sana Starros, Han Solo’s “ex” wife. Shocked? Intrigued? We recommend picking up the book to find out more.
Poe Dameron 1-8
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Phil Noto
Given a mission by General Leia Organa-Solo, Poe Dameron embarks with pilots Snap Wexley, Kare Kun, L’ulo, and Jess Pava – also known as Black Squadron. Amid Rey’s search for belonging and Finn’s search for identity, Poe’s self-assured behavior might get a bit lost in the shuffle. Soule gives Dameron a story worthy of his star power and Oscar Issac’s charm. Everyone from film characters to Poe’s nemesis Agent Terex (who is described as an “Evil Lando”.)
Phil Noto puts his distinctive stamp and style on the pages adding dimension not only to the star wars story but another layer to “It’s all connected”. At it’s heart Poe Dameron is a comic story about a spy – and thanks to the art and stellar writing Poe has something in common with a pair of very familiar spies – Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton. According to Mr. Soule there are a number of stories to come including an espionage story – tying the two universes metaphorically close together.
One of the coolest pieces of the comic is the lettering for fan favorite character BB-8. BB-8’s dialogue is written in english, which is then translated by Heater Antos. It’s then added into the panels by letterer Joe Caramagna into the “bleeps and bloops” that people are most familiar with.
These are just a few of the samples of the Star Wars Comic Universe that marvel has created. From it’s beginnings in 1977 to it’s latest incarnation with Doctor Aphra the universe has included multiple legendary comics and it’s current run of comic canon. Even Chewbacca has his own solo series and while we might not see him in Rogue One, we’re sure to see him in the Untitled Han Solo film, coming soon from Lucasfilm, Disney, and yes, Marvel.
Tell us which of your favorite Star Wars comics you’ll be taking to wait in line for the new movie in the comments below. Rogue One hits theaters tomorrow December 16th!