Updated: Every Modern Marvel Star Wars Comic, Ranked

In Honor of Solo: a Star Wars Story, Our Jedi Historians Provide the (Updated) Definitive Countdown

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Updated: Every Modern Marvel Star Wars Comic, Ranked

George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away has been Marvel’s premiere cash-bantha since Disney synergy brought the Star Wars license under the purview of the comic publisher in 2015. The core Star Wars title has clung to a top-20 sales spot without fail, and even books like Doctor Aphra, a Darth Vader spin-off featuring a character who has never appeared on film or television, outsells most monthly Marvel superhero series. With the release of Solo: a Star Wars Story in theaters this week, the resident Paste Comics Jedi historians read and re-read every single Star Wars comic released by Marvel Comics in the modern era to compile an updated definitive ranking. For the purpose of this list, we counted annuals and crossovers Vader Down (excellent) and Screaming Citadel (not so excellent) as parts of their components series, and one-shots as their own entries. Spoiler alert: the House of Ideas is still doing pretty damn well by this side of the Disney empire.

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Cover._SX1280_QL80_TTD_.jpg 24/23/22. Star Wars: The Force Awakens Adaptation, Star Wars: Rogue One Adaptation & Star Wars: The Last Jedi Adaptation
Writers: Chuck Wendig, Jody Hauser, Gary Whitta
Artists: Luke Ross, Oscar Bazaldua, Emilio Laiso, Michael Walsh
With Star Wars: The Last Jedi Adaptation just two issues into its six-issue run, we considered separating these entries, but our criticisms are the same: none of Marvel’s direct film adaptations build on their source material, and in the absence of any truly bad Star Wars comics, that drops them all into a tie for last place. Writers Chuck Wendig (The Force Awakens), Jody Hauser (Rogue One) and Gary Whitta (The Last Jedi) maintain their respective films’ big beats, but The Force Awakens and Rogue One fail to match the compulsive pacing of their respective movies, and The Last Jedi so far does nothing to smooth over its film’s rough parts. The transcribed dialogue also falls flat without the charisma of actors like Oscar Isaac, Donnie Yen and Kelly Marie Tran. Rogue One Adaptation’s Oscar Bazaldua and Emilio Laiso turn in visually appealing work, but neither they nor The Force Awakens Adaptation’s Luke Ross come close to matching the visual splendor of the newest films. The Last Jedi’s Michael Walsh was an inspired choice, but his distinctive skills are poorly utilized trying to capture actor likenesses and fit too much plot into too little space. Dark Horse’s adaptations of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith offered fans a chance to see frequent Star Wars artists Jan Duursema and Doug Wheatley adapt the films—and offered a welcome respite from some truly awful line delivery—but Marvel’s first three film adaptations do little to justify their existence. Steve Foxe


shatteredempireswlist.jpg 21. Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Shattered Empire
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Marco Checchetto
They can’t all be home runs, right? Shattered Empire promised to “bridge the gap” between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, creating high, high expectations. It’s not a bad book—but not a lot happens. Still, like many TFA theater-goers, I fell in love with the fleeting, if dashing, charisma of Poe Dameron, and this series will forever serve as an introduction to his parents (who play a role in several tie-in novels, too). As far as providing any further strata beyond minor looks at Luke, Leia, Lando and Han right after the Battle of Endor, this title serves as a completionist’s footnote more than an integral building block, and is far from essential reading to understand The Force Awakens. Tini Howard


626679._SX1280_QL80_TTD_.jpg 20. Star Wars: Thrawn
Writer: Jody Hauser
Artist: Luke Ross
As we made clear above, we’ve yet to be too impressed by Marvel’s direct adaptations of Star Wars films, but bringing a novel into sequential-art format is a different Gundark entirely. Jody Hauser, who wrote the Rogue One adaptation, joins Darth Maul artist Luke Ross for this comic retelling of Timothy Zahn’s latest take on the fan-favorite blue-skinned tactical genius. Thrawn is one of the most fascinating Star Wars characters in and out of canon: first introduced in Zahn’s beloved Heir to the Empire novel, Thrawn served as a chief antagonist for a trilogy of novels that were, until the Disney acquisition, unofficially considered Episodes VII through IX by many fans. Unlike peer Mara Jade, Disney just couldn’t quit Thrawn, and introduced the Chiss Imperial to official canon in Rebels and recruited Zahn for a brand-new trilogy of novels that don’t contradict Disney’s plans for Rey, Finn and the rest of the gang. Unfortunately, Hauser and Ross’ take on the source material reads more like a series of vignettes than an actual story, leading to a stilted adaptation that often lacks the connective tissue of the novel’s through-line. Fans of Thrawn are better off sticking with Zahn’s novels. Steve Foxe


macewinduswlist.jpg 19. Star Wars: Jedi of the Republic: Mace Windu
Writer: Matt Owens
Artists: Denys Cowan, Edgar Salazar
Mace Windu, which carries a Jedi of the Republic banner that hopefully portends additional series focused on the warrior-monks of the Prequel Trilogy, catches up with the character portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson as he reckons with his sudden role as a general in the Clone Wars. Writer Matt Owens is a bit of a comics rookie compared to other Marvel Star Wars scribes, with an Elektra mini-series and credits on the Luke Cage television show under his belt, and his newness to the medium occasionally shows in unusually quippy dialogue given the book’s serious subject matter. Artist Denys Cowan, on the other hand, is a veteran with a distinctly sketchy, blocky style that doesn’t quite do justice to the precise designs of Battle Droids and Jedi robes. Compounding the slightly off feeling of the book is that Owens and Cowan’s Windu lacks the confident air of Jackson’s fan-favorite portrayal. While Mace Windu is far from awful, it joins Obi-Wan & Anakin in not quite meeting the Prequel-era standards set by the Dark Horse comics that came before. Steve Foxe


cassianswlist.jpg 18. Rogue One: Cassian & K-2SO Special
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Fernando Blanco
Rogue One, by nature of how its protagonists end up, practically begs for prequel material, but fans of Jyn Erso’s ragtag band don’t yet have much going for them in the comic world. This one-shot reveals how Rebel agent Cassian Andor buddied up with reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO, but spends too much of its page count focusing on an unusual pair of aliens working with Cassian for the Rebellion. Readers learn almost nothing at all about Diego Luna’s ill-fated hero, and even K-2SO’s lethal humor is barely on display. Fernando Blanco’s clean-lined style is a good fit for Rogue One’s world, but the typically reliable Duane Swierczynski doesn’t dig up enough story to justify this outing. Were this a one-off issue of a Rogue One series, that’d be forgivable. As the only sequential-art use of these characters beyond the Rogue One adaptation, Cassian & K-2SO Special falls flat. Steve Foxe


598215._SX1280_QL80_TTD_.jpg 17. Star Wars: The Last Jedi—DJ: Most Wanted
Writers: Ben Blacker & Ben Acker
Artist: Kev Walker
The Last Jedi was—understatement incoming—a divisive film for Star Wars fans, but even the staunchest defenders of Rian Johnson’s take on the franchise (myself included) have to admit that Benecio Del Toro’s space libertarian was infuriating. Never named on screen, “DJ” seemed designed to progress a B-plot and teach Rose and Finn that some people are just assholes, no matter their ideologies (or lack thereof). Improbably named writing duo Ben Blacker and Ben Acker had the unenviable task of fleshing out this codebreaker with an odd vocal tic, with Doctor Aphra artist Kev Walker joining the duo to make sure that the result looks great, if nothing else. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the disappointing Cassian & K-2SO one-shot above, Disney doesn’t seem to be allowing the comics to introduce many new canonical elements related to their era of films, and The Last Jedi: DJ: Most Wanted illuminates little about Del Toro’s character beyond repeating what we already know: he’s kind of a jerk and will screw over everyone to get what he wants. SW: TLJ—DJ: MW earns a higher placement than the similarly shallow Cassian & K-2SO for at least staying focused on its titular character, even if Blacker, Acker and Walker seem unable to tell us anything about him. Steve Foxe


darthmaulswlist.jpg 16. Darth Maul
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Luke Ross
As we mentioned in the Mace Windu entry, Dark Horse, the previous publisher of Star Wars comics, did right by the Prequel Trilogy, honing George Lucas’ clumsy political and moral dramas into a sprawling tapestry of Jedi philosophy at war with itself. While DH’s post-RotJ content is much iffier, it’s difficult to read Marvel’s Prequel-era series without comparing them to what came before. Darth Maul is a particular victim of that contrast, as the tattooed Zabrak received a number of excellent mini-series before the Disney acquisition. In Cullen Bunn and Luke Ross’ take, fans get some entertaining moments with fan-favorite bounty hunters Cad Bane and Aurra Sing, meet a resilient new Jedi Padawan, but learn little of what makes Maul himself tick. As The Phantom Menace makes clear, Maul is a singularly focused instrument of anti-Jedi rage. Bunn has a handle on that, and Ross’ art is capable (if less exciting than Rafael Albuquerque’s evocative covers), but Darth Maul ultimately fades into the background among stronger offerings. Steve Foxe


obiwananakinswlist.jpg 15. Obi-Wan & Anakin
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Yes, we’re harping on this, but while even the most stalwart Star Wars fan would be hard-pressed to defend the quality of the Prequel Trilogy films, the corresponding comic era was among Dark Horse’s finest times with the license, producing now-canon characters like Aayla Secura and Quinlan Vos. Given Lucasfilm’s seeming desire to distance itself from the PT, this mini-series came as a pleasant surprise. Marvel heavyweight Charles Soule and Shattered Empire artist Marco Checchetto portray the fateful pairing of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker early on in their time as Master and Padawan, on a dangerous mission far afield from the Jedi Temple. The banter between the two simmers with fun and foreshadowing as perfected in the Clone Wars animated series, even if the steampunk aesthetic of the mini-series’ setting feels at odds with most of the universe we know and love. Checchetto, the only Marvel artist to depict the Prequel era, Original Trilogy era and post-RotJ era, proves himself yet again to be a perfect fit for the flowing robes and sweeping lightsabers of Jedi combat. Soule gets slightly too creepy with Palpatine’s grooming of young Anakin, but franchise fans will appreciate more insight into the future Darth Vader’s Dark Side journey. Steve Foxe


580262._SX1280_QL80_TTD_.jpg 14. Star Wars: The Last Jedi—The Storms of Crait
Writers: Ben Blacker & Ben Acker
Artist: Mike Mayhew
Ben Blacker and Ben Acker are active parts of Disney’s prose publishing plan for Star Wars, which may help explain why they were tapped for both The Last Jedi one-shot tie-ins. While DJ: Most Wanted arrived after the film’s release, The Last Jedi—The Storms of Crait preceded it by a few months, and thus unsurprisingly offered few insights into Rian Johnson’s controversial film. Luke, Han, Chewie and Leia do visit the sandy titular planet in this issue, which helps explain the Resistance’s presence on Crait in Episode VIII, but this adventure otherwise serves as a footnote in the Alliance’s struggle. A recurring group of comic antagonists pop up here, and the result is that The Storms of Crait feels like a Star Wars annual that was broken off into its own title for movie synergy. Mike Mayhew contributed a few issues to the core Star Wars series, and his heavily photo-referenced digital painting remains as love-it-or-hate-it as ever; you likely already know if you find it “realistic” or overly static. Star Wars: The Last Jedi—The Storms of Crait is an ably executed story, but it could have used some vulptices to make it more memorable. Steve Foxe


kananswlist.jpg 13. Kanan: The Last Padawan
Writer: Greg Weisman
Artists: Pepe Larraz, Jacobi Camagni
As with a few Dark Horse mini-series from the end of their licensing deal, Kanan: The Last Padawan serves as a sort of unproduced episode of a Star Wars cartoon series, in this case Rebels. Written by series Executive Producer Greg Weisman and drawn in a comfortable approximation of the animated style by Pepe Larraz and Jacobi Camagni, Kanan: The Last Padawan reveals how the titular character survived the purge of Order 66 and married his (incomplete) Jedi training to his roguish know-how. Weisman employs an unnecessary framing device and the series felt like it had another arc of story to tell, but The Last Padawan matches the tone of the animated series well enough to appease fans curious about Kanan’s origins. Steve Foxe

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