Star Wars comics are kind of daunting, right? I mean, there are JUST so many of them. And nobody has the time or inclination to pick one and hope for the best, yeah? Well, never fear, fledgling nerds! Because this Fourth, we here have you covered with a pretty fun “starter” list of stuff you can read as we wait patiently for the Rise of Skywalkers (whatever the hell that means) this December. I bring you The Top 10 “New Canon” Comics!
10. Star Wars: C-3PO (James Robinson/Tony Harris)
I know, I know. This sounds like I’m starting this list off on a goof, right? But truly! a one-shot starring Star Wars‘s most annoying character actually rules! Set during Lucasfilms’s “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the team behind DC’s Starman reunite to tell a harrowing, actually gut-wrenching tale of Threepio attempting to escort a droid “prisoner” across a harsh planet after a ship crash. The whole thing is novel because it explains his “new red arm,” but also tells the grounded, personal story people respond to from Star Wars. It is available digitally and with several variants should you ever find it in the wild.
9. Star Wars: Shattered Empire (Greg Rucka/Marco Checchetto)
Another effort from the “Journey to Force Awakens,” but one that reads a bit more essential to those who love “expanded universe.” Reuniting the team behind a critically acclaimed run of Punisher, this four-issue miniseries is set right immediately after the events of Return of the Jedi and details the rough and tumble life and love of Poe Dameron’s birth parents.
One is a daring Y-Wing pilot who helped bring down the Death Star. The other is a daring ground trooper, leading the charge into the broken Imperial bunkers alongside General Han Solo. But even beyond the “new” lore this mini introduces, Rucka and Checchetto deliver a resonant, visually explosive “war-time” tale, a few years before Rogue One no less! It may be low on this list, but don’t let that fool you that it isn’t worth your time. This miniseries is available digitally and in a collected edition if a bookstore near you has survived.
8. The Screaming Citadel (Jason Aaron & Kieron Gillen/Marco Checchetto & Salvador Larroca)
Our list’s first “crossover”! Neatly divided between the main Star Wars title and acclaimed spin-off Dr. Aphra, The Screaming Citadel finds our favorite Jedi-in-Training and his family of scoundrels attempting to infiltrate a hostile alien kingdom, whose queen claims special knowledge of the Jedi. Oh, and also she commands a legion of slime creatures that may or may not be connected to the Symbiote race that birthed baddies like Venom and Carnage. Readers knocked it at release for it’s odd connection to the 616 and for interrupting the current serialized ongoing plots Aaron and Gillen had been enjoying, but I always like Star Wars better when it’s a little weird. And this thing is pretty damn weird! Not to mention gets a whole different set of morally adjusted characters mixing it up. This crossover is available digitally and in it’s own independent collected edition, containing both series’ issues.
7. Star Wars: Captain Phasma (Kelly Thompson/Marco Checchetto)
Though done pretty dirty in the movies, our Silver Space Mom really shines in Captain Phasma. Set during the destruction of the Starkiller Base, Kelly Thompson’s bullet train of a tale shows just how far Phasma is willing to go to cover her tracks. Along with her Terminator-like approach to “completing her mission.” Short, sweet, and punchy as all hell, this four-issue miniseries shows the full potential of the character, brutally and beautifully realized by artist Marco Checchetto (who I am just now realizing was kind of all over this new Marvel Era of Star Wars comics). This miniseries is, of course, available digitally and in a gorgeous collected edition with a fantastic cover gallery in its back matter.
6. Han Solo (Marjorie Liu/Mark Brooks)
Announced with the first major push of Marvel Comics, a Han Solo solo series seemed like a pretty obvious thing, right? But then it started to come out and writer Marjorie Liu proved that she was delivering something far from obvious. Going undercover in a deadly space-race, Han and Chewie grapple with insane pilots, Imperial spies, and their own command structure as Han and Leia are in the deep throes of their contentious courtship. Given a detailed and cinematic look by artist Mark Brooks, Han Solo delivers all the thrills and chills of pulp crime stories starring our favorite smugglers. Available digitally and in another gorgeous collected physical edition.
5. Princess Leia (Mark Waid/The Dodsons)
Another first series from the comic company, but one well worth any fan’s collection. Though it is definitely dinged by not being handled by a women creative team, Mark Waid and the Dodsons still turn in a stirring, endlessly re-readable tribute to “Our General.” Set after almost directly after A New Hope, this five-issue series finds Leia teaming up with a statuesque Rebel pilot to protect the refugees of Alderaan. Legitimate criticisms aside, Waid and the Dodsons’ tale is equally soaring and raucous, as the two leading ladies fight and argue their way across Naboo and the galaxy on a righteous “mission of hope.” This whole series is available on ComiXology, but this is one I highly recommend a physical edition of. If I remember correctly, it has a really nice spot embossing and the trade dress is just *One Million Chef Kisses*.
4. Star Wars: Lando (Charles Soule/Alex Maleev)
A straight-up heist comic? About the coolest motherfucker in the galaxy? Brother, you don’t even KNOW. Set prior to his installation as a steward of Cloud City, Lando tells the story of Lando and Lobot attempting to steal a highly valuable ship. One mixed up in Sith lore and populated by deadly Force users. Written by Soule right as he was on the come-up and given a lithe, highly stylish look by Daredevil’s Alex Maleev, this miniseries is shockingly dark and all the best kinds of wry. And the first time we really got to see how far Marvel was willing to go with their new comics. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
3. Star Wars: Forces of Destiny (Various)
We often kind of forget that Star Wars is for kids. Thankfully, we got IDW’s Forces of Destiny series to remind us of that, with beautifully accessible vignette tales. Springboarding off the wildly popular toy line, IDW and Disney collected a full roster of female creatives and let them go absolutely nuts with the female characters of the franchise. Characters that include General Leia, Rose, and Paige Tycho, and Rey, plus MORE. Every single issue of this series was just a ball and a half to read, not to mention visual knockouts. The whole anthology series is now collected in full. Should you ever see any of the single issues out and about, snap them up. I have a feeling the more time goes on, the more this series will grow in readers and fans.
2. Darth Vader (Kieron Gillen & Charles Soule/ Salvador Larroca & Giuseppe Camuncoli)
This one is … decidedly NOT for kids, but whoooo, boy is it a good one. Launched as one of the first ongoing titles once Marvel acquired the license, Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca’s dark and engrossing epic quickly became a critical and fan favorite. And it isn’t just hype! Across 20+ issues, one annual, and a major crossover, Gillen dug to the dark heart of the fallen Jedi. He displays how dangerous and heartbreaking his journey had been. After Gillen and Larroca stepped aside, writer Charles Soule and Hellblazer and Spider-Man’s Giuseppe Camuncoli took up the dark standard, casting him as a Sith Jason Vorhees, waging his own private war against the Galaxy. It isn’t for everybody, but I will say this, it is never once boring. Gillen’s first part of the run just received the Omnibus treatment, but the whole bloody affair is available widely.
1.Star Wars (Jason Aaron & Kieron Gillen/John Cassaday & Various)
For my money? The closest you can get to Star Wars without buying a movie ticket. Launched in 2015 and set largely between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Jason Aaron took the largely untouched “New Canon” of Star Wars and built up a sweeping, epically entertaining new corner of the Galaxy, starring the heaviest of hitters from the movies. Better still, Aaron shows he wasn’t afraid to try new things with the property! Experimenting with genres and character dynamics that felt both new and respectful. After Aaron, Kieron Gillen took over through issue #50, taking the post-Last Jedi, post-Rogue One tones of the movies and marrying them wonderfully to the “Big Three” of Luke, Han, and Leia. This whole run is everything you could want from Star Wars and so, so much more.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Honestly? Too many to mention! IDW’s Star Wars Adventures is another wonderful “all-ages” series. Vader Down was Marvel’s first major crossover, and it really impresses. I also really like most of the Movie Adaptation comics. They provide neat little “director’s cuts” of the movies. I allllmost put Dr. Aphra on there, but I feel like it has to be read more in conjunction with Vader to hit. I dunno. Let me know which ones I missed in the comments below.