Comics

Every Modern Marvel Star Wars Comic, Ranked

In Honor of The Last Jedi, Our Jedi Historians Provide the Definitive Countdown

Comics Lists Star Wars
Share Tweet Submit Pin
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 Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi in theaters this week, the resident Paste Comics Jedi historians read and re-read every Star Wars comic released by Marvel Comics in the modern era to compile a 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 doing pretty damn well with this side of the Disney empire.

“1linebreakdiamond.png”

forceawakensswlist.jpg rogueoneswlist.jpg 20/19. Star Wars: The Force Awakens Adaptation & Star Wars: Rogue One Adaptation
Writers: Chuck Wendig, Jody Hauser
Artists: Luke Ross, Oscar Bazaldua, Emilio Laiso
We debated separating these entries, but our criticisms are the same: neither Star Wars: The Force Awakens Adaptation nor Star Wars: Rogue One Adaptation build on their source material, and in the absence of any truly bad Star Wars comics, that drops them both into last place. Writers Chuck Wendig (The Force Awakens) and Jody Hauser (Rogue One) maintain their respective films’ big beats, but neither book nails the compulsive pacing of the movies, and the transcribed dialogue falls flat without the charisma of actors like Oscar Isaac and Donnie Yen. 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. 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 two film adaptations do little to justify their existence. Steve Foxe


macewinduswlist.jpg 18. 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 17. 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


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


shatteredempireswlist.jpg 15. 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


obiwananakinswlist.jpg 14. 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


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


phasmaswlist.jpg 12. Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Captain Phasma
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Call her the Boba Fett of the new trilogy all you’d like: Captain Phasma is cool. She may have spent The Force Awakens looking shiny, providing exposition and getting dispatched with ease, but the Stormtrooper officer played by Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie cut an intimidating, chrome-finished profile and emerged as one of Episode VII’s most memorable visuals. This mini-series, which Marvel double-shipped and rush-collected in time for The Last Jedi promotional season, returns to the final moments of the Starkiller Base and explains how Phasma escaped the planet-sized explosion to menace Finn, Rey and the rest of the Resistance in the sequel film. Hawkeye scribe Kelly Thompson joins Marvel’s Star Wars family alongside franchise mainstay Marco Checchetto for a brisk plot that may not be essential reading for a galaxy far, far away, but does help flesh out Phasma’s character while ably answering the nagging question of her escape. Steve Foxe


chewbaccaswlist.jpg 11. Chewbacca
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Phil Noto
Pity the writer charged with scripting five issues of everyone’s favorite, unintelligible Wookie wingman. Gerry Duggan strategically uses the support character in much the same way the Original Trilogy did—sparingly. This miniseries is primarily the story of a young, spunky girl, Zarro, as she repels a ruthless profiteer exploiting her town for the Empire. Besides fulfilling the reluctant hero role (or Leon the Professional metaphor), Chewie also experiences flashbacks to his own enslavement on Kashyyyk that offer a startling degree of insight and empathy. Phil Noto’s lush drawings channel the character with lovely nuance—the widened eyes, clasped forehead and bowcaster brandishing convey a personality that trilled grunts might not. And for fans of The Star Wars Holiday Special, behold potentially the first (and thankfully brief) cameo from extended family Itchy, Malla and Lumpy. It may be far from essential, but Chewbacca accomplishes much with surprisingly little. Sean Edgar


ShareTweetSubmitPinMore