A year after the triumphant return of Star Wars in The Force Awakens, Gareth Edwards will transport audiences back to before the original trilogy in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Starring new characters entering the Star Wars mythos for the first time, Rogue One follows the ragtag band of rebels stealing the Death Star schematics that will lead to Luke Skywalker’s one in a million victory for the Rebels in A New Hope.
But the thrill of rebellion need not end when the credits roll. There are hundreds of great Star Wars comics for anyone eager to continue the adventures this holiday. Check out these select Star Wars comics from both Marvel and from the historic Dark Horse ownership (rereleased by Marvel).
Darth Vader (2015)
Timed with The Force Awakens last year was a whole slew of new Star Wars comics from Marvel decades after the original Marvel/Star Wars comics in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. While many of these new were good, Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader was straight up outstanding. Set in between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, the Darth Vader comics feature Anakin hoping to curry back favor from the Emperor after his embarrassing loss in A New Hope.
Described by Gillen as Star Wars meets Breaking Bad, the comic re-establishes Darth Vader as the terrifying and tyrannical BAMF in the entire galaxy. The 25-issue comic also introduced Aphra, a resourceful raider who overnight became a fan-favorite in the new canon.
While the Disney ownership of Star Wars guaranteed we’ll get Star Wars movies until the sun burns out, it also swept the entire Extended Universe under the rug. Among the losses was The Force Unleashed, a video game series that followed Darth Vader’s secret apprentice Galen Marek. In the prequel comic written by Haden Blackman, who authored the games, Galen’s origins are explored as he hunts down the Jedi. The games are badass, but are slowly becoming harder to get ahold of, which makes the comics an easier alternative.
Shadows of the Empire (1996)
Shadows of the Empire was the movie that never actually was. A “multimedia project” that acted as a sequel without being an actual movie, comic books were just one part of the entire body of the story set in between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. In Shadows of the Empire, Luke and Leia attempt to rescue Han from the bounty hunter Boba Fett while Prince Xizor and Darth Vader make plans to control or destroy the Rebel Alliance. The comics, written by John Wagner, preoccupy on Boba Fett and his fellow bounty hunters.
While Rogue One won’t have Boba Fett or anything to do with Luke and Leia, Shadows of the Empire remains essential after more than 20 years.
Vader’s Quest (1999)
Released alongside The Phantom Menace, Vader’s Quest was a four-issue comic from Dark Horse — with pencils from Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons — that had a similar premise to Marvel’s recent Darth Vader: What did Vader do after A New Hope? Instead of going Walter White on the galaxy, Vader pursues Luke only to learn that the young Jedi in training was his own son. Along the way, Jal Te Gniev, a Rebel Alliance pilot whose ship Luke took to blow up the Death Star, gets piss drunk over Luke’s golden boy status and embarks on a life-changing journey.
Rogue One is the path to the first real victory for the Rebels, but the X-Wing: Rogue Squadron comics from the mid-‘90s flip the script: The comics take place after Return of the Jedi, when Wedge Antilles leads the most elite team of X-wing pilots called the Rogue Squadron to stamp out the remnants of the Empire’s influence across the galaxy. Things pick up, and by the end of the comic, Wedge and the Rogue Squadron have to reclaim Coruscant from a reinvigorated Empire. Also swept under the “Legends” label, X-Wing Rogue Squadron remains too good to be forgotten.