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Best Star Wars Comics

The Star Wars universe has always been big and messy, and that complexity certainly extends to the comic book realm. So if you're looking to wade in, where should you start?

It's not an easy question to answer. Back before Disney bought out Lucasfilm and the Star Wars brand, Dark Horse Comics had spent decades producing some fantastic Star Wars stories — which were all relegated to the "Legends" designation outside the main canon following the Disney sale. But, canon or not, there are still some great stories worth checking out. If you're looking for something more modern, Marvel spent the past two years establishing a rich, ambitious, and full canonical universe that weaves into the new films like The Force Awakens and Rogue One. Here are the best Star Wars comics.

Star Wars

It might seem obvious, but Marvel's new Star Wars flagship comic is actually pretty great. The series launched before The Force Awakens' debut, and looks to fill in some of the missing time between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. It features all your favorite heroes from those old films and tells the continued adventures of Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie. It also means Darth Vader is still alive and well, causing all kinds of trouble across the galaxy. Writer Jason Aaron and artists John Cassaday, Simone Bianchi, and Stuart Immonen do an excellent job of recapturing the look and feel of the original trilogy era. If you want to see the main heroes have a few more adventures during their prime, this is the place to start.

Star Wars Tales

This Dark Horse series started in the late 1990s and told stories inside and outside the canon. (Well, what was canon at the time.) The 32-issue series wasn't afraid to get a little weird and included everything from stories about Han and Chewie fighting off undead skeletons to the wild story of Skippy the Jedi Droid. Each issue is broken down with shorter stories, so each issue typically has something for everyone. The tales can get a little weird at times, but dig deep enough and you'll easily find something to love.

Star Wars: Legacy

This story is set in the far future of the main canon, more than 100 years after the original trilogy. That fresh slate lets the series build on the legacy of what came before, while also telling a fresh story in a different (but familiar) version of the Star Wars universe. The story is focused on Cade Skywalker, a descendant of Luke, who becomes a space pirate in this far future. Following Cade's journey is wildly entertaining, and you get the classic story of a heroic rogue embracing his legacy and going on his own version of the hero's journey. For Star Wars junkies, there's also a whole lot of world-building. There's a new-look Empire run by a new Sith, and it's fascinating to see what's changed in the world, and what's stayed the same. If anything, it's a nice reminder that the players may change, but the heart often stays the name.

Star Wars: Infinities

This series is basically an ambitious "What If?" line set within the Star Wars universe. If you find yourself wondering about the possible effects of tiny changes to the main story, this is the run for you. From what would've happened had the Rebellion failed to destroy the Death Star to how Luke's potential death in the blizzard on Hoth would've changed the series, there's a lot of hypothetical exploration. It's an ambitious exercise in working out how one major change can diverge a timeline, as one change leads to another and another. Though they're obviously not canon, these comics are a crazy rabbit hole well worth diving down.

Darth Vader

This one recently wrapped up, but the spinoff series set in Marvel's new Star Wars continuity (the official canon that applies to everything from A New Hope to The Force Awakens) is well worth picking up. Written by all-star Kieron Gillen (Phonogram, The Wicked + The Divine), Darth Vader brings a whole lot of depth to the iconic villain. We've always been told that Vader is smart and cunning, and putting him at the center of his own series gave Marvel a chance to really explore those aspects of the character and let them breathe. What's Vader doing when he's not fighting with Luke and the gang? Everything from hunting down artifacts to running his own operations parallel to the Emperor's. This series also introduced the breakout new character Doctor Aphra, a blaster-toting, universe-trotting archaeologist.

Star Wars: Vector

Though Marvel and DC typically hold down the fort when it comes to massive comic crossovers, Dark Horse attempted one heck of an ambitious event series across all of its Star Wars lines back in 2008. The result? Star Wars: Vector. The massive adventure spans a mind-boggling 4,000 years in the Star Wars universe and weaves across Dark Horse's Star Wars series Dark Times, Rebellion, Knights of the Old Republic, and Legacy. The series was framed around an ancient Sith artifact called the Muur Talisman, and we see everyone from Luke Skywalker to his future ancestors encounter it during the massive crossover. The story is immensely ambitious and has real stakes that affect the wider Dark Horse Star Wars universe.

Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy

Timothy Zahn's Thrawn trilogy remains one of the most beloved and ambitious works in the Star Wars universe, picking up the story after the original trilogy and weaving together one heck of a narrative. He introduced the cunning villain Grand Admiral Thrawn (a character who has since been introduced into the real continuity over on Star Wars: Rebels), who causes a whole lot of trouble for the Rebellion. In addition to being a trilogy of novels, the series was also adapted into a Dark Horse comic run — which is arguably the superior way to experience the story. The 18-issue series brings Zahn's saga to life and tells a story more than worthy of following up the original trilogy.

Star Wars: Dark Empire

This one is from the early days of Dark Horse's Star Wars era and showed the promise of what was to come. This story imagines what would happen if Luke bowed before a reborn Emperor and became his apprentice. Things only get crazier from there. It features pretty much the entire roster of heroes, but instead of merely facing off with the Empire, they're going toe-to-toe with their old friend Luke. It features twist, turns, betrayals, Force Storms, and ships that make the Death Star look like a child's toy. The story sometimes stumbles under its own ambition, but it's still one of the most sweeping and wild comics in the entire Star Wars canon.

Star Wars: A New Hope Manga

You may have seen Star Wars: A New Hope, and you've maybe even read the comics, but you've never seen it like this. The manga adaptation of the original film is a trippy good time, and it might seem odd to meld the 1970s era sci-fi of Star Wars with the art and storytelling approach of manga, but it just works. This miniseries is illustrated by Hisao Tamaki and edited by David Land, and was adapted from the original film's screenplay. If you want to see Star Wars through a brand new lens, you could do far worse than picking this one up. Plus, c'mon, Luke's hair was made for manga art.

Doctor Aphra

This one is admittedly still very early in its run at Marvel, but it holds a ton of promise. The swashbuckling archaeologist Doctor Aphra was a breakout character in Darth Vader's recent solo book, and proved so popular that Marvel moved forward with a spinoff series all about Aphra. She marks the first original Star Wars comic character (from the modern era) to get her own spinoff series, and following Aphra on the run from Darth Vader (and pretty much everyone else) looks to be a thrilling ride. Of course, you also have to remember it's all connected — so there's every chance Aphra could potentially pop up in Star Wars: Rebels at some point, or even on the big screen.