Alex Ross recreates the cover of Star Wars #1, with Luke leading the heroes

13 Greatest Star Wars Comics Of All-Time (Ranked)

More than just film and television, the Star Wars Universe has thrived and expanded within the comic book medium ever since the debut of the original 1977 film. With comics celebrating every era of the iconic franchise, here are the greatest Star Wars comics of all time.

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13 Greatest Star Wars Comics of All-Time Ranked

13. Star Wars: Doctor Aphra

Doctor Aphra stands with Black Krrsantan in Star Wars: Doctor Aphra

One of the most memorable original characters created for the new Expanded Universe after Disney acquired Lucasfilm is Doctor Chelli Aphra, created by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca. A criminal archaeologist recruited by Darth Vader to assist with his plans in the aftermath of A New Hope, Aphra received her own spinoff comic book series in 2016. A second volume starring Aphra was launched in 2020, revealing her adventures between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

A twist on the Indiana Jones wise-cracking, adventurous archaeologist archetype, Aphra interacted with some of the franchise’s biggest characters between the events of the movies. Despite the character’s inherent levity, there is a darkness about her, given her original employer and her traveling companions, two murderous droids that serve as sinister inversions of C-3PO and R2-D2. Capturing a different, focused vibe on the Star Wars Universe, Doctor Aphra was a breath of fresh air from the initial Disney Expanded Universe being so firmly centered on established characters.

12. Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire

Luke brandishes his lightsaber with Xicor and Boba Fett in the background in Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire

While many Star Wars fans perhaps best know Shadows of the Empire from the 1996 video game, the project was a multimedia effort by Lucasfilm to revive interest in the franchise. Among these plans was a comic book adaptation, written by John Wagner and illustrated by Kilian Plunkett, based on the prose novel written by Steve Perry. Set between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Shadows of the Empire introduces Dash Rendar, Han Solo’s smuggler friend who joins the Rebel Alliance.

While following a new protagonist, Shadows of the Empire ties in so seamlessly with the Star Wars lore and classic characters that led the films. This quality extends to the comic book adaptation, with Wagner and Plunkett masterfully bringing Perry’s story to life for a more visual medium. Shadows of the Empire is such an important part of the Star Wars legacy that even the Disney era stories have acknowledged and incorporated elements from the text as they chart their own continuity.

11. Star Wars by Jason Aaron

Luke leads Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and the droids

Longtime Star Wars fans were understandably concerned when they learned that the original Expanded Universe, prior to the franchise’s acquisition by Disney, would be rendered non-canonical moving forward. This led to high expectations for the first Star Wars comics published by Marvel after the acquisition, led by a new ongoing series launched by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday. Fortunately, Aaron and his collaborators quickly proved themselves more than up for the task as they began building an exciting new continuity that meshed with the films and television shows.

Set shortly after the events of A New Hope, Aaron and Cassaday hit the ground running by putting Luke Skywalker on a collision course with Darth Vader while on a routine mission for the Rebel Alliance. Springboarding off this, Aaron and his subsequent artistic partners began filling in the lore leading up to The Empire Strikes Back while keeping a strong focus on character. Having some of the strongest Star Wars stories published since the Disney acquisition, Aaron’s love for the franchise shines through with every issue.

10. Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years

Luke leads the heroes on the very first Star Wars comic

The very first Star Wars comic launched a month before A New Hope saw its wide theatrical release in May 1977, with Marvel Comics publishing the series. Initially adapting the film, with Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin at the helm, the subsequent creative team of Archie Godwin and Carmine Infantino took the beloved characters into original sci-fi stories without any sequels to guide their narrative path. Running for over 100 issues, Marvel’s Star Wars comics were well-received by fans and helped the company regain its financial standing in the late ‘70s.

Revisiting the original run of Star Wars comics long after the completion of the original film trilogy is a fascinating look at the franchise’s earliest days before the canon and Expanded Universe had solidified. Unique supporting characters and stories that feel offbeat from what the franchise would grow into inform a lot of these comic stories while retaining the familiar aesthetics of the first movie. Marvel would eventually adapt The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi into comics, but, for those curious about the proto-Expanded Universe, this comic run is invaluable.

9. Star Wars Legends: The Thrawn Trilogy

Luke ignites a red lightsaber

Author Timothy Zahn completely reinvigorated the Star Wars franchise with his bestselling novel trilogy following Grand Admiral Thrawn as he waged a devastating war on the New Republic five years after the events of Return of the Jedi. The novels were later adapted into a set of comic books, with writer Mike Baron adapting Zahn’s text and working with rotating teams of artists. These comics have since been collected and reprinted in a gorgeous, comprehensive edition.

The Thrawn Trilogy catapulted the Expanded Universe beyond the events of the movies and the comics faithfully adapted Zahn’s novels with plenty of visual flair. Though rendered non-canonical in 2014, the story’s legacy led to major elements of it being reintegrated into continuity, most notably including the reintroduction of Thrawn himself. Masterfully staged and showing a grand, epically strategic side to the franchise, the Thrawn Trilogy is classic Star Wars.

8. Star Wars: Darth Vader by Kieron Gillen & Salvador Larroca

Darth Vader ignites his lightsaber by his comms booth in the Star Wars: Darth Vader comic

The second ongoing comic book series launched after Disney acquired Lucasfilm was Star Wars: Darth Vader, centered on the ebony-clad Sith Lord. Taking place shortly after the events of A New Hope, the series began with Vader determined to learn who the young pilot was that destroyed the Death Star and why he wields his old lightsaber. Vader’s obsession leads him to go through secret channels outside of the Galactic Empire and without Emperor Palpatine’s authorization.

For as stoic a villain Vader appears for much of the original trilogy, the creative team of Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca find plenty of nuance and complexity in the man under the mask. This isn’t a Vader who’s a mindless lapdog to Palpatine, but someone who has his own cunning agenda guided by his personal feelings as the man that was Anakin Skywalker can be seen. And through it all, the series provides plenty of key lore-building moments that inform this new Expanded Universe continuity.

7. Star Wars: Visionaries

An older Obi-Wan Kenobi faces Darth Maul in star wars visionaries

The concept artists behind Revenge of the Sith expanded their work in the Star Wars Universe with the comic book collection of short stories Star Wars: Visionaries. Collecting 11 tales in all, Visionaries covers vignettes across the original and prequel trilogy eras. Given the background of the creative teams involved, Visionaries really places an emphasis on visual storytelling, with some stories in the collection with little to no dialogue at all.

Among the standouts in Visionaries is a rematch between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul on Tatooine, years before it was depicted in Star Wars Rebels, and a squad’s desperate mission during the Battle of Hoth. Each story is gorgeously rendered, showing different artistic possibilities for that iconic galaxy far, far away. For readers with a particular love for distinct visuals, Star Wars: Visionaries is a must-read.

6. Star Wars: Han Solo

Han Solo poses with his blaster in Star Wars: Han Solo

Some Star Wars stories work best not in an extended, decompressed ongoing saga but as a short, sweet, and concise tale that hits all the key beats and ends before overstaying its welcome. A prime example of this is Marjorie Liu and Mark Brooks’ 2016 miniseries, Star Wars: Han Solo, following the franchise’s iconic smuggler on a freewheeling adventure. Contained to five issues, the story has Han go on a secret mission for the Rebel Alliance to rescue some spies under the cover of entering a high-stakes starship race.

Liu gets a strong handle on each of the major characters in the story, but one of the most striking things about Han Solo is Brooks’ artwork. Even quiet dialogue scenes are brought to stunning life by Brooks and inker Dexter Vines, with even Star Wars creator George Lucas reportedly reaching out to purchase the series’ original artwork. Tautly paced and beautifully illustrated, Han Solo is one of the best Star Wars comics since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm.

5. Star Wars: The Dark Empire Trilogy

Luke duels a Palpatine clone in Star Wars: The Dark Empire

Long before Emperor Palpatine resurfaced in The Rise of Skywalker, the Sith Lord rose from the grave to menace the New Republic in The Dark Empire trilogy. Set six years after Return of the Jedi, a cloned Palpatine rallies the remnants of the Galactic Empire to launch a new assault in a bid to conquer the galaxy. Powering this new armada are deadly battle stations known as World Devastators, which ravage and consume entire planets to fuel their sheer destructive power.

Created by Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy, this trilogy of comic book miniseries was originally published by Dark Horse Comics from 1991 to 1992. The handling of Palpatine’s return is more adeptly staged than the Star Wars sequel trilogy while taking major creative risks with the franchise’s iconic characters, especially Luke Skywalker. The Dark Empire trilogy would influence numerous subsequent Expanded Universe stories and even be partially adapted in the first Star Wars: Rogue Squadron game.

4. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

The characters of Knights of the Old Republic stand together

As audiences watch the days of the High Republic in Star Wars: The Acolyte, one of the more revered periods for Star Wars lore remains its Old Republic era. Introduced by the universally acclaimed video game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, this era is set millennia before the events of the prequel trilogy as the Jedi Order and Republic battle the highly organized Sith. While Knights of the Old Republic received a direct sequel and MMO follow-up, the era it covers has expanded into the realm of novels and comic books.

Starting out as a loose adaptation and expansion of the video games that inspired it, the Knights of the Old Republic comics quickly grew to cover original stories set within this ancient era of warring Jedi and Sith. With a number of different writers and artists behind the ongoing adventures of the Old Republic, these comics explore a creatively fertile side of the franchise. If The Acolyte has you interested in Star Wars’ in-universe ancient history, check out Knights of the Old Republic.

3. Star Wars Infinities

Darth Vader in white armor

The Marvel Universe isn’t the only iconic, shared universe filled with what-if stories that explore variations on continuity with alternate universe stories. Chris Warner, Drew Johnson, and Ray Snyder told a group of stories centered on the classic film trilogy with a trio of miniseries under the title Star Wars Infinities. Published from 2002 to 2024, each of these stories subverts classic moments from the original movies while exploring what would happen if certain familiar events unfolded differently.

Though collected together, none of the three stories within Star Wars Infinities are interconnected, instead serving as standalone deviations from the classic continuity. The tales range from Luke’s final attack on the Death Star in A New Hope being unsuccessful to Han’s rescue from Jabba the Hutt going disastrously. A fun and engaging read, Star Wars Infinities yields surprising depth to the cinematic stories all fans know and love, just by changing a couple of details. 

2. Star Wars: Mara Jade – By the Emperor’s Hand

Mara Jade lights her red lightsaber in Star Wars: Mara Jade - by the emperor's hand

Throughout the Expanded Universe, Star Wars has a history of the Sith recruiting secret apprentices, including characters like Asajj Ventress and Starkiller. The origins of this tradition date back to Mara Jade, an original created by Timothy Zahn, who went on to appear in numerous novels, comic books, and even a selection of video games. Mara’s most memorable comic book appearance is in the miniseries Star Wars: Mara Jade – By the Emperor’s Hand.

Introduced as a secret Force-sensitive enforcer for Emperor Palpatine, Mara Jade is given a new mission in the comic book miniseries by Zahn, Michael Stackpole, and Carlos Ezquerra. The series takes place around and shortly after the events of Return of the Jedi, with Mara trying to redeem herself in the eyes of the Emperor before trying to find her own way after his death. While longtime Star Wars fans have been hoping for Mara to make her debut in the streamlined continuity, they can still revisit one of her greatest adventures in the comic medium.

1. Star Wars: Legacy

Cade Skywalker leads his friends in Star Wars: Legacy

Just as Knights of the Old Republic recounts the ancient history of Star Wars, Star Wars: Legacy explores the galaxy’s possible future. Set well over a century after the events of Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: Legacy follows the adventures of Cade Skywalker, a distant descendant of Luke, who leads the Galactic Alliance and Jedi Order after they are defeated by a resurgent Sith and their new emperor, Darth Krayt. Created by John Ostrander and Jan Duursema, Star Wars: Legacy was a sprawling epic that ran for 50 issues from 2006 to 2010.

Star Wars: Legacy, like the prequel and sequel film trilogies, really underscores that Star Wars is a generational tale of different variations on the familiar embroiled in a galactic battle between good and evil. Free of being tied down to the original trilogy thanks to its time period, the creative team really builds a fresh take on the universe without eschewing what made it so popular. Though Star Wars: Legacy would receive a direct sequel with a new creative team two years after the first volume concluded, that first run by Ostrander and Duursema is some of the best Star Wars storytelling ever crafted in any medium.

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Sam Stone
Sam Stone is a longtime entertainment news journalist and columnist, covering everything from movies and television to video games and comic books. Sam also has bylines at CBR, Popverse, Den of Geek, GamesRadar+, and He's been a freelance contributor with The Escapist since October 2023, during which time he's covered Mortal Kombat, Star Trek, and various other properties. Sam remembers what restful sleep was. But that was a long time ago.