Say, there’s some kind of space movie coming out this month isn’t there? Unless you’re living under a pile of Bantha poodoo, you know that Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on December, 18th. Star Wars fever is at an all-time high and if you’re breathlessly counting off the days until you can return to that galaxy far, far away, might we suggest you check out the last year of Star Wars comics published by Marvel?
In the past year, Marvel has published some of the greatest sequential Star Wars tales ever crafted, which is saying something because Star Wars comics have been a huge part of the marketplace since 1977. With just a few years off in the late 80s and early 90s, Star Wars has long been a comic book staple, but now, Marvel seems to have found the formula for some truly magnificent Star Wars adventures. So, if you haven’t checked out any of Marvel’s current crop of Star Wars titles, allow us to provide a helpful guide to the current batch of four color Star Wars awesomeness. These books will not only help you survive the last few weeks before The Force Awakens, they will also provide you some truly unforgettable, swashbuckling, Star Wars coolness.
Star Wars by Jason Aaron, John Cassaday, and Stuart Immonen.
The big one, the only Star Wars comic where fans can get the entire classic cast all in one place – and then some. Writer Jason Aaron (Scalped, Thor) somehow channels everything great about the Star Wars universe. His characters talk like their film counterparts and everything, from the sense of high adventure to the classic movie serial feel, just feels right. Cassaday and Immonen are the perfect complement to Aaron as their vibrant artwork truly captures that Ralph McQuarrie coolness that defined the original Star Wars trilogy. Aaron’s adventures focus on the days following A New Hope, when the heroism of Luke’s Death Star run is sweeping the galaxy. Along the way, Aaron introduces Han Solo’s first wife (!), a very physical Jedi hunting Hutt, and a bevy of scum and villainy that is pure Star Wars. Along the way, Aaron has interspersed his major arcs with solo tales of a middle aged Obi-Wan Kenobi post Clone Wars. Think Obi-Wan Kenobi, Space Agent of SHIELD and you get an idea how cool these adventures are. Star Wars is an absolute must read for any fan of the films because somehow, these three comic book superstars have managed to create a visual John Williams soundtrack to make even the most hardened Sith happy.
We have in depth examinations of Darth Vader issue #1 and issue #2, so I won’t go into minute detail here. I will say that Darth Vader as a protagonist in a Star Wars story should not work. He is an impenetrable character who works best as the immovable adversary figure. This book should never work, but by God, it does and on so many levels. This is a book that tracks a shamed Vader’s, post-Battle of Yavin rise from fallen apprentice to the Dark Lord of the Sith choking out high ranking Imperial admirals in The Empire Strikes Back. This is note-perfect, intense storytelling that is destined to become The Sandman of Star Wars comics. It is just that good.
Star Wars: Princess Leia by Mark Waid, Terry Dodson, and Rachel Dodson.
Try to imagine a story where Princess Leia takes the role of Superman and you get the core idea of this fabulous Mark Waid written mini-series. First off, Mark Waid (Kingdom Come, Daredevil) writing Star Wars? Sold! Secondly, what do Superman and Leia have in common, you ask? Well, they are both the (almost) last survivor of their race and they are both looked up to as a bastion of morality and goodness by those that admire them. But as Waid proves, heavy is the head that wears the crown, especially when it is a crown of a dead world. This is the story of the woman under the buns, a galactic adventure starring the most famous female space character of all time. But most off all, it is the story of a heartbroken woman who is always expected to do the right thing.
Star Wars: Kanan, The Last Padawan by Greg Weisman and Pepe Larraz.
One of the less talked about but consistently excellent series published by Marvel, Star Wars: Kanan, The Last Padawan follows the early adventures of the Jedi protagonist of Star Wars: Rebels.This series will scratch your Old Republic/Clone Wars era Star Wars itch as it takes place right after the events of Revenge of the Sith. This comic is the perfect companion piece to Rebels as Weisman (the creator of Rebels by the by) explores the early adventures of Kanan, the last Padawan and fugitive of the newly formed Empire.
Star Wars: Lando by Charles Soule and Alex Maleev.
Hello, what have we here? Lando Calrissian may be absent in Star Wars: The Force Awakens but he is front and center in the mini-series by fan favorite She-Hulk writer Charles Soule and one of the greatest Daredevil artists that ever lived, Alex Maleev. You want a Lando adventure, you got it. This is like Ocean’s 11 meets Star Wars as Lando, Lobot, and their criminal crew try to abscond with a treasure ship that just happens to belong to Emperor Palpatine. This title shows why Han called Lando a scoundrel and gives fans a great idea of who this mustachioed baron administrator was before he got a hold of Cloud City. Lando is a heist comic done in a perfect Star Wars style, and hey, if you ever wanted to learn the secret origin of Lobot, here’s your chance.
Journey To Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Shattered Empire by Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto.
That title may be a mouthful, but this is the first post-Return of the Jedi comic in the new Disney canon. If you want to learn what happened after the Battle of Endor, here it is as told by one of the most important voices in modern comics, Greg Rucka (Batwoman, Queen & Country) and hard hitting artist Marco Checchetto (Punisher, Avengers World). This title also introduces the parents of a vitally important Force Awakens character and sets the stage for a new era of Star Wars. Rucka crafts a story of a victorious Rebellion and a desperate, still-functioning Empire and creates an unforgettable military sci-fi tale that fills in the gaps for every Star Wars character that played a role in Return of the Jedi. As the title suggests, this series is honestly the perfect reading appetizer before journeying into The Force Awakens. This isn’t a universe altering Star Wars tale, but it is a gripping military adventure from one of the finest genre voices in popular fiction.
Star Wars: Chewbacca by Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto.
Pretty much the perfect solo Chewbacca story, this mini-series by Gerry Duggan (Deadpool, Nova) and master artist Phil Noto (Black Widow) tells the tale of Chewbacca and his newest friend, a young girl forced into slavery by galactic criminals. Chewie and his new buddy take part in a Star Wars tale by way of Charles Dickens, a tale of struggle and freedom and Wookies. And my goodness, does Noto draw an awesome Chewbacca. So before Chewie makes his big screen return in The Force Awakens, come experience a true, rollicking Wookie rescue mission featuring everyone’s favorite walking carpet.
Star Wars: Vader Down by Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen, and Mike Deodato.
Do you guys want to experience the ultimate Vader adventures? This is it. This is Darth Vader versus just about the entire Rebel Alliance. This is a Vader sworn to find Luke Skywalker, cutting his way through legions of enemy troops. In the films, you never really got to see Vader take down anyone other than his own subordinates, but this comic, which crosses over with the main Star Wars title and Darth Vader, is a prime example on why the Dark Lord of the Sith is the most feared figure in the galaxy. If you don’t get chills reading this event crossover, you might want to go to your doctor and make sure you are alive.
So there you have it, some truly great Star Wars comics salving our anticipation as we all wait for the big day, books that prove that we are truly living in a new golden age of Star Wars greatness.