I’m a Star Wars nerd, and I can’t tell you when the next movie is coming out. I get texts from friends asking me questions when the shows don’t live up to their expectations. I’m the Star Wars guy in multiple friend groups, and I don’t have a lot of answers for them… The Rogue Squadron movie was probably canceled. We only get so many episodes of The Bad Batch per year. I don’t know when we’re getting Star Wars Battlefront III. To every text I get, I sit with it, thinking of something clever to say, and I send the same default answer every time…
“Well, the comics are great, and they have been since 2015.”
In 2015, Marvel got the Star Wars comics license back from Dark Horse, the stewards of the brand since the early ‘90s. Despite many beloved stories — Dark Empire I and II, Rogue Squadron, Knights of the Old Republic, Dark Times, Shadows of the Empire, and countless others — everything before 2015 was shuffled over to the “Legends” branding, stories that happened to fans but aren’t canon anywhere but their hearts. Starting in 2015, with the Marvel publishing logo in the corner, these were the real stories of the wars in the stars.
When Marvel first started publishing modern Star Wars books, there were a series of ongoing comics that took place post-A New Hope. The movies are strictly true, and these comics were there to fill in the gaps. Additionally, there were a few miniseries that filled in the other eras, but mostly, they were telling the story after Luke blew up the Death Star, the one audiences hadn’t seen.
Those books went on until 2020 when they finally caught up to the events of The Empire Strikes Back. They rebooted with new issue #1s, and that’s where we find ourselves now.
Besides miniseries and one-shots, there are four main ongoing Star Wars comics that come out every month. The first is Star Wars, the main series focusing on Luke, Leia, Chewie, and the cat-and-mouse game the Rebel Alliance plays with the Empire. Next, there’s Bounty Hunters, which spends most of its time with those who skirt the line of good and evil all for credits. Then Darth Vader tells a more intimate story of the titular Sith Lord, now dealing with the revelation that his late wife had a son and the conspiracy that kept it secret from him.
Finally, Doctor Aphra is about the eponymous newer character, created back in 2015, and she’s basically the Indiana Jones of the Star Wars universe but… sleazier. She’s an archeologist in search of riches and fame but might be killed at any second by any of the dozens of characters she’s double-crossed.
All four of these main titles exist on their own but intersect at key inflection points in the greater story that Marvel is telling. The most recent of them was War of the Bounty Hunters. After Boba Fett claims the frozen body of Han Solo (as seen in The Empire Strikes Back), he stops on the planet Nar Shaddaa before meeting up with Jabba the Hutt to claim his bounty. The rebels have been desperately trying to catch up with him to get their friend back, and the other bounty hunters are trying to get Han from Boba as well — some for noble reasons, and some in service to the angels of their lesser natures (read: money and disdain for Solo. And money).
However, a mysterious new party manages to steal the Carbonite-encased Han right out from under Boba Fett. It turns out to be Qi’ra, Han’s old flame from Corellia (as seen in the movie Solo) who has reemerged after time away and is Crimson Dawn’s new fearless leader. She does it to show the full might of the newly reestablished criminal empire. She hosts an auction for the body of Han Solo and invites every single major player to the party, including the Black Suns crime group, the Empire, the Rebel Alliance, the extended Hutt family, and everyone in-between.
Putting that many trigger-happy people who dislike each other in the same room can’t stay peaceful forever. Qi’ra fights Vader using the lost martial art of Teras Kasi and vibroblades! Boba Fett lights Chewbacca on fire! Luke and Vader dogfight over a frozen wasteland! Doctor Aphra and Han Solo’s ex-wife Stella Starros get trapped in a Crimson Dawn prison cell with key figures from their past! One of the Hutt council members starts a naval battle with a Star Destroyer! Things get absolutely nuts in white-knuckle action where you can’t turn the page fast enough.
But Qi’ra is pulling the strings all along. In a move that feels inspired by a Marvel comic from 2008, Secret Invasion, Crimson Dawn has its agents everywhere. There’s an air of mistrust that’s sewn at the end of War of Bounty Hunters that’s explored in a publishing initiative called Crimson Reign. There are Crimson Dawn sleeper agents throughout the Empire, the Alliance, and all the other factions operating in the galaxy, and nobody knows whom they can trust anymore.
That brings us up to speed, where the climax of this epic is happening in a book called Hidden Empire. Emperor Palpatine can no longer ignore the threat Crimson Dawn poses to his chokehold on the galaxy, and the two groups are going to war. The third issue hits stands and digital storefronts February 8, and it’s the halfway point of the story.
We don’t know when the next Star Wars movie is coming out. After Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, there’s no release date for the next Star Wars game. The Mandalorian season 3 drops on Disney+ in March. If you want to enjoy this type of Star Wars content, you’re not going to be receiving it all on a reliable timeline. Don’t feel like waiting to get to a galaxy far, far away?
Well, the comics are great, and they have been since 2015.