The Best Star Wars Comics To Read Before The Force Awakens

After over 30 years, December 18th, 2015 will mark the first time the Star Wars saga has continued after the events of Return of the Jedi. For comics (and novel) fans, though, the Star Wars Universe has expanded in many ways since Darth Vader’s sacrifice and Luke’s ascension to last Jedi in the galaxy.

Below you’ll find the Star Wars comics that do the best job answering the question: What could have happened in the aftermath of Star Wars Episode VI, and beyond?

The Best Star Wars Comics After Return of the Jedi

dark empire comics

Star Wars: The Dark Empire Trilogy

Few comics do a better job playing with all the what if scenarios that pop up in the wake of the Rebellion’s victory on Endor. The Dark Empire trilogy jumps several years into the future, taking a realistic look at just how difficult it would have been for Luke, Han, Leia and the rebellion to truly defeat the deeply ingrained Empire.

It’s just a hunch prior to the Force Awakens, but I would not be surprised if Dark Empire was hugely influential on the story of Star Wars Episode VII.

For Marvel Unlimited readers, the trilogy can be a bit confusing to find. You will want to read the following order:

Star Wars: Dark Empire (1991-1992) #1 to #6

Star Wars: Dark Empire II (1994-1995) #1 to #6

Star Wars: Empire’s End (1995) #1 to #2

Star Wars: The Crimson Empire Saga

Crimson Empire is astonishingly exciting, following the adventures of the last Imperial Guard as the Empire falls. It had never occurred to me that Emperor Palpatine’s cool guards in red needed their own story, but the imagination in telling it pays off huge.

For the Marvel Unlimited reader, you’ll want to check out the following:

Star Wars: Crimson Empire (1997 to 1998) #1 to #6

Star Wars: The Bounty Hunters – Kenix Kil (1999) #1

Star Wars: Crimson Empire II – Council of Blood (1998 to 1999)

Star Wars: Crimson Empire III – Empire Lost (2011 to 2012) #1 to #6

Timothy Zahns Thrawn Trilogy

Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy

Personally I think Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy makes for better novels than comics, but it’s a classic any way you look at it. Note that technically, according to Dark Horse’s Star Wars chronology, the books here would go Thrawn Trilogy –> Dark Empire –> Crimson Empire. I don’t think it makes all that much difference myself.

This one might actually be the weirdest to track down on Marvel Unlimited and can be digested as follows:

Star Wars: Heir to the Empire (1995 to 1996) #1 to #6

Star Wars: Dark Force Rising (1997) #1 to #6

Star Wars: The Last Command (1997 to 1998) #1 to #6

The future of Star Wars

Star Wars Legacy

Legacy jumps way after the end of Star Wars Episode VI (137 years to be exact) and takes a look at the state of the Star Wars Universe, and yes, the legacy of the Skywalker name. It’s a great comic series that runs for 50 issues guided by Suicide Squad creator John Ostrander.

Note that if you’re reading in Marvel Unlimited, you can jump from Star Wars: Legacy (2006 to 2010) to Star Wars: Legacy – War (2010) #1 to #6.

Marvel Star Wars #81 to #107

I’m a sucker for the old (see early 1980’s) Star Wars comics that came out after Return of the Jedi hit theaters in 1983. There are plenty of lumps here, but it’s fascinating to see comic book creators (primarily Jo Duffy writing) take a stab at what the Skywalkers, Han, Chewie and all the rest might have gotten up to while good ol’ George plotted Star Wars Episode VII (or so they may have thought).


4 Replies to “The Best Star Wars Comics To Read Before The Force Awakens”

    1. Not all comics are considered canon in the Star Wars expanded universe. That said, while Dark Horse was publishing these books, Thrawn, Crimson Empire, and Legacy were all considered canon. I’m less sure of Dark Empire, although it is included in Dark Horse’s chronological timeline of events in future comics.

      My guess is canon will continue to be redefined as 1) Marvel publishes their new take on the Film continuity and 2) The Force Awakens redefines the film universe.

    2. Even though these aren’t canon, I think that they are absolutely still worth reading. Heck, Legacy is one of my favorite comic series of all time.

      Think of these Star Wars Comics kind of like one of mainstream Marvel’s many alternate earths and timelines (e.g. Ultimates, Age of Apocalypse, 2099). Just because they may not be “official” or in many cases are no longer in continuity doesn’t mean that they aren’t good stories.

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