Darth Vader is without question one of the most iconic villains in fiction, and arguably the most iconic villain in science fiction.
Since Marvel Comics acquired the license to publish the Star Wars Universe, Darth has seen a renaissance, largely due to the quality of his ongoing series by creators Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca.
The below reading order through Darth Vader comics begins with this reinvigorating look into the Sith Lord’s activities following A New Hope, and before Empire Strikes Back.
Related Reading Orders:
Once you’ve completed the Marvel Darth Vader run in order below, I also include some of the iconic Darth Vader stories published by Dark Horse Comics during the 1990s and 2000’s.
As always, leave any questions or feedback in the comments, and enjoy the comics!
Darth Vader Comic Books Reading Order
Origins and Episode III
Collects: Obi-Wan and Anakin #1 to #5
As with all things Star Wars, you certainly don’t need to start with Clone Wars era Anakin Skywalker to enjoy Darth Vader comics. Nonetheless, chronologically these comics are the closest look we have from Marvel at this formative time in Anakin’s training as a Jedi.
Collects: Star Wars: Age Of Republic – Anakin Skywalker (2019) #1, Star Wars: Age Of Republic – Obi-Wan Kenobi (2019) #1, Star Wars: Age Of Republic – Padme Amidala (2019) #1, Star Wars: Age Of Republic – Qui-Gon Jinn (2018) #1, Material from Star Wars: Age Of Republic Special (2019) #1
Darth Vader appears as Anakin Skywalker in various stories set throughout the prequel era in this anthology collection!
Collects: Darth Vader (2017) #1-6
Continuing directly from the end of Episode III, the secret origin of Darth Vader’s red lightsaber!
Collects: Darth Vader (2017) #7-12
More of Vader’s untold “Year One” as he faces off against the Jedi Temple’s librarian!
Collects: Darth Vader (2017) #13-18, Darth Vader Annual (2015) #2
Vader tracks a Jedi in hiding to the aquatic planet of Mon Cala. Also featuring a stand-alone story where Governor Tarkin hunts the Dark Lord for sport- at Vader’s own request!
Collects: Darth Vader (2017) #19-25
The Sith-laden story behind Vader’s lavalicious castle!
Collects: Star Wars: Vader – Dark Visions (2019) #1-5
Stand-alone stories by Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum and a rotating cast of artists!
Episode IV Era
Collects: Star Wars: Rogue One Adaptation (2017) #1-6, Star Wars: Rogue One – Cassian & K-2SO Special (2017) #1
Vader’s dark and deadly presence steals all his scenes in this comic book version of the fan-favorite film!
Collects: Star Wars: Age Of Rebellion – Boba Fett (2019) #1, Star Wars: Age Of Rebellion – Darth Vader (2019) #1, Star Wars: Age Of Rebellion – Jabba The Hutt (2019) #1, Star Wars: Age Of Rebellion – Grand Moff Tarkin (2019) #1, Material from Star Wars: Age Of Rebellion Special (2019) #1
A collection of one-shots featuring Vader in his prime as the galaxy’s dark enforcer!
Collects: Darth Vader #1 to #25, Darth Vader Annual #1, Star Wars: Vader Down #1, Star Wars #13 to #14
Gillen and Larroca’s Darth Vader has been so well received it achieved hallowed Omnibus status mere months after the series conclusion. For the more affordable and less rare variety, you can check out the Darth Vader trade paperbacks below.
There’s also a guide to the issue by issue CBH reading order (below) for those interested in blending Darth Vader and Star Wars issues released by Marvel, since Darth makes appearances in both titles.
Collects: Darth Vader #1 to #6
Collects: Darth Vader #7 to #12
Collects: Star Wars: Vader Down #1, Darth Vader #13 to #15, Star Wars #13 to #14
Collects: Darth Vader Annual #1, Darth Vader #16 to #19
Collects: Star Wars Annual #1, Star Wars #15 to #19
Issues #16 to #19 of Star Wars directly follow-up Vader Down and show what’s been happening with Doctor Aphra and the Luke, Leia, and Han trio.
Collects: Darth Vader #20 to #25
Gillen & LaRocca Issue by Issue Darth Vader Reading Order
I include the most relevant Star Wars issues below, but for full context of Marvel’s Star Wars universe, you can check out Comic Book Herald’s complete Marvel Star Wars comics reading order.
Star Wars #1 to #3
Darth Vader #1 to #3
Star Wars #4 to #5
Darth Vader #4 to #6
Star Wars #6
Darth Vader Annual #1
Darth Vader #7 to #12
Vader Down Reading Order
Vader Down #1
Darth Vader #13
Star Wars #13
Darth Vader #14
Star Wars #14
Darth Vader #15
I’d note here that the Gillen and Larocca Darth Vader omnibus does include the Star Wars crossover issues that are a part of Vader Down. I’ve read the event both with and without, and honestly, if you’re here for Darth Vader and reading on Marvel Unlimited, you’ll be just fine reading strictly through the Vader issues and filling in what’s happened with the recap openings.
Darth Vader #16 to #25
Doctor Aphra & Star Wars
Collects: Doctor Aphra #1 to #6
Not directly a Darth Vader narrative, but follows up with Doctor Aphra’s story.
Collects: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2016) #9-13, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Annual (2017) #1
While shutting down a black market auction gone awry, Vader has to fight a crazed ancient force-entity trapped inside the body of a lightsaber-wielding droid. Just another day at the office…
Collects: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2016) #20-25
Vader’s once again one step behind Aphra’s latest antics but has a confrontation with his ex-murderbots!
Collects: Star Wars (2015) #50-55, Star Wars Annual (2015) #4
Featuring loads of Vader’s TIE Fighter skills destroying Rebels “ship to ship”!
Collects: Star Wars (2015) #62-67
It wouldn’t be the conclusion to Kieron Gillen’s time in the Star Wars Universe without an appearance by Darth Vader!
Collects: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2016) #32-36
When Aphra is involved in yet another conspiracy against the Emperor, Vader wants her silenced before their past history becomes public knowledge!
Collects: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2016) #37-40, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Annual (2017) #3
The old gang is all back together as Aphra gives Vader a great new nickname: “Lord Throat-Crusher”!
Collects: Star Wars (2015) #68-72
A boy and his droid reunited when Vader comes face to face with Threepio (eh, not quite…)
Collects: Star Wars (2015) #73-75, Star Wars: Empire Ascendant (2019) #1
Featuring Vader versus Chewbacca!
Collects: Star Wars: Target Vader (2019) #1-6
A group of bounty hunters are gunning for Vader- but who’s really the hunter and the hunted?
Episode V Era!
Collects: Star Wars (2020) 1-6
Taking Place immediately after the events of Episode V, and reeling from the revelations and events of said movie, Luke, Leia, Lando, Chewbacca, R2 and 3PO must fight their way back to the Rebel Alliance, and try to build their morale back. But what they don’t know is that the vengeful Imperial Commander of Tarkin’s Will, Commander Zahra is hot on their tail.
Collects: Star Wars: Darth Vader (2020) #1 to #5
Taking place a few moments after the climax of Episode V, Vader struggles with Luke’s unthinkable refusal and goes on a revenge quest against the people who hid Luke from him. What he doesn’t realize is that this quest will force him to go through a past he doesn’t really want to remember.
Collects: Star Wars: Darth Vader (2020) #6 to #11
Vader’s actions in the previous volume were unsanctioned, and the Emperor wasn’t pleased with his rebellion. Now punished, battered by the Emperor and left in the volcanic planet of Mustafar, Vader tries to rebuild himself.