* this article originally appeared on January 6th, 2014 *
Marvel Comics will begin publishing Star Wars in 2015, meaning that the Dark Horse era has come to a close. Dark Horse has had an AMAZING run with the Star Wars franchise, giving fans some of the best Star Wars stories ever told, many of which could stand head-to-head with the classic films. Let’s celebrate Dark Horse’s tenure with a list of 13 (in no particular order) of their best stories…
Dark Empire (1991)
Writer: Tom Veitch
Artist: Cam Kennedy
The first Star Wars story produced by Dark Horse remains one of their most famous. Luke Skywalker’s inevitable fall to the dark side, the return of Boba Fett, and the Emperor’s reincarnation through cloning were the ingredients used to create one of the most successful arcs in the franchise’s history. Luke helps the Emperor chase Leia across the galaxy as they race for the mysterious Jedi Holocron, an artifact so powerful that it would give its holder supreme control of the Force. Could Leia save Luke and the galaxy from the Emperor in time?
The Golden Age of the Sith (1996)
Writer: Kevin J. Anderson
Artist: Dario Carrasco, Jr.
In 1993, Dark Horse’s classic Tales of the Jedi introduced us to the most perilous era in the galaxy far, far away. Towards the end of its run, Tales of the Jedi released a prequel story that took us on an adventure to one of the darkest corners in the galaxy, the planet Korriban, home of the Sith Lords, who are at the height of their power in uncharted space, where readers were immediately thrust into the power struggle between Naga Sadow and Ludo Kressh, following the death of the Dark Lord Marka Ragnos. Little do the Sith know that they’re about to stumble on the Galactic Republic…This story put into motion thousands of years of conflicts between the Republic and the Sith Empire. A very good place to start your Star Wars comic book reading.
Knights of the Old Republic (2005)
Writer: John Jackson Miller
Artists: Brian Ching, Travel Foreman, Dustin Weaver, Harvey Tolibao, Bong Dazo, Scott Hepburn, Alan Robinson, Dean Zachary, Ron Chan
Dark Horse’s Knights of the Old Republic series filled the gap between Tales of the Jedi and the award-winning RPG of the same name. This series deals with the great schism within the Jedi Order that led to a bloody civil war in the aftermath of the Mandalorian conflict. We are introduced Zayne Carrick, a Jedi padawan thrust into the eye of the storm as he is framed for the murder of his classmates at the Taris Academy. Knights of the Old Republic is a dark tale of obsession and justice, but it also captures the fun and lightheartedness of A New Hope. It’s a must-read!
Writer: John Ostrander
Artist: Douglas Wheatley
You don’t really need to read this comic to know what happened to the Jedi post-Revenge of the Sith…but it’s still a hell of a lot of fun to watch Darth Vader vanquish his enemies. Mind you, at its core, Purge is the story of a mad cyborg that goes on a killing spree in order to find his master. Vader is not unlike Frankenstein’s monster here. Fueled by a thirst for revenge, Vader will stop at nothing to make Obi-Wan pay for his betrayal.
Legacy I (2006)
Writer: John Ostrander
Artists: Jan Duursema, Travel Foreman, Adam DeKraker, Colin Wilson, Omar Francia, Alan Robinson, Kajo Baldisimo, Dave Ross
One of Dark Horse’s final Star Wars series will be Legacy II, which takes place 138 years after A New Hope. We’ll meet Ania Solo, a descendant of Han and Leia Organa Solo, as she travels the galaxy in the aftermath of Cade Skywalker’s war against the Sith. The original Legacy series introduced us to the descendant of Luke Skywalker as the galaxy fell to the Sith once more. As the Jedi Temple burned on Coruscant, a group of Sith Lords reigned over the galaxy. Cade was the galaxy’s only hope…
Writers: Chris Warner, Dave Land, Adam Gallardo
Artists: Drew Johnson, Davide Fabbri, Ryan Benjamin
The equivalent of sitting around with your friends during a rewatch of the trilogy while you all take turns discussing the craziest what-ifs. What if Luke Skywalker had died on Hoth after being attacked by the wampa, leaving his friends to fend for themselves? Would that mean that Princess Leia would have to rise up and become a Jedi? After all, she’s the only hope for the galaxy…That’s EXACTLY what you’ll find within the pages of Infinities, an alternate, non-cannon telling of the original trilogy. And since Marvel is already well known for engaging in What If? scenarios of their own, we may see more of Infinities in the future!
Dark Lords of the Sith/ The Sith War (1994)
Writers: Tom Veitch, Kevin J. Anderson
Artists: Chris Gossett, Dario Carrasco, Jr.
The most tragic arc in Star Wars comic book history took place during Tales of the Jedi. Two of the greatest Jedi in the galaxy, Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma, fell to the dark side during a violent coup on the Empress Teta system. Up to this point, Ulic had been the hero of the Tales of the Jedi series, and his shocking betrayal sent shivers up the spines of readers (this was pre-Order 66, after all), as he turned his back on his fellow Jedi and murdered his own brother, Cay, in cold blood. There’s also that very bloody bit with the mad Exar Kun, who must make his last stand against the Jedi. Needless to say, bodies everywhere. These stories were the climactic act of Tales of the Jedi.
Planet of the Dead/ Extinction / Skippy the Jedi Droid (1999)
Writers: Steve Niles, Peter David, Ron Marz
Artists: Davide Fabbri, Martin Egeland, Mario Castellini
Mention Star Wars Tales to Dark Horse fans, and you’ll immediately put a smile on their face. This anthology series packed several short stories in each issue. Made up of canon and non-canon yarns that spanned several eras, this series gave readers some of the best Star Wars stories ever told. Of note are “Planet of the Dead,” in which a young Han Solo and Chewbacca fight off undead skeletons on a mysterious planet, “Extinction,” in which Darth Vader hunts down a Jedi known as the Dark Woman, and “Skippy the Jedi Droid,” about a droid’s ultimate sacrifice in the war against the Empire. This 32-issue series produced even more gems, and is definitely worth a read!
X-Wing: Rogue Squadron (1995)
Writers: Michael A. Stackpole, Darko Macan, Jan Strnad, Scott Tolson, Mike W. Barr
Artists: Edvin Biukovic, John Nadeau, Gary Erskine, Steve Crespo, Jim Hall, Drew Johnson
If the space battles are your favorite part of the films, this is the series for you. X-Wing: Rogue Squadron followed the galaxy’s elite fighter squadron, as they battled the Imperial Remnant in the aftermath of Return of the Jedi. The series primarily focuses on Wedge Antilles and the Empire’s version of the Red Baron, Baron Fel. Rogue Squadron really focused on the military aspect of Star Wars like no other series.
Writers: John Jackson Miler, Mike Harrison, Rob Williams, John Ostrander
Artists: Scott Hepburn, Dave Ross, Doug Wheatley, Dustin Weaver, Jan Duursema
What’s a comic book franchise without a crossover or two? “Vector” ties all four of Dark Horse’s then current Star Wars series (Dark Times, Rebellion, Knights of the Old Republic, and Legacy) under one storyline. The 4,000 year-spanning adventures tells the story of the Muur Talisman, an ancient Sith artifact created by the Sith Lord Karness Muur. Zayne Carrick, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and Cade Skywalker all encounter the talisman during the adventures. “Vector” had the most lasting effect on Legacy, as the talisman proved to be an important weapon against the Sith.
“The Battle of Jabiim” (2003)
Star Wars: Republic #55-58
Writer: Haden Blackman
Artist: Brian Ching
Republic was originally known simply as Star Wars, and was the flagship series during its run. “The Battle of Jabiim” tells the story of one the bloodiest battles of the Clone Wars. General Kenobi is presumed dead early on in the battle, and Anakin Skywalker must lead a masterless pack of padawans to victory. It’s grim business, as we watch Jedi masters and padawans die one by one.
“The Savage Heart” (2003)
Star Wars: Empire #14
Writer: Dave Land
Artist: Raul Treviño
While Republic told tales of heroic valor, Empire showed us the dark side. Dark Horse’s intriguing series about the bad guys turned the Empire on its head. In “The Savage Heart” we join Darth Vader immediately after the destruction of the first Death Star, where his damaged TIE fighter crashes into an unsettled planet full of wild predators. Vader is stalked by a pack of…let’s call them wolves…as he makes his way through the wilderness. He manages to kill the leader of the wolf pack, and the remaining wolves make Vader their LEADER. That’s right. He then leads the wolves in an attack against a giant wildebeast…This is one of the most awesome Vader stories ever told!
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Colin Wilson
The New Jedi Order series of novels is perhaps the best ever produced as part of the Expanded Universe, and Dark Horse followed suit in 2009 with Invasion, which chronicled the early days of the war against the Yuuzhan Vong, the deadliest enemies the New Republic ever faced. This particular series told the story through the eyes of the Galfridian family, the royal family from the planet Artorias, one of the first planets to be invaded by this new enemy. Invasion is a great read for anyone who loved the novels.
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