Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, the official task participants were given were to list their ten most recent reads. Instead, I thought that May the Fourth would be the perfect opportunity to highlight what I consider to be the best Star Wars novels and comics out there.
For this list, I checked out all of the Star Wars comics that I have read in the last couple of years in order to figure out which were my absolute favourites. This was another fun experience for me, and I think I had a somewhat easier time deciding on my favourite comics than I did with my favourite Star Wars novels. I was pretty happy with how this Top Ten list turned out, as it features 10 outstanding and impressive entries in my main list, as well as a decent honourable mentions section. For some of the longer series (those with multiple volumes), I chose to feature the whole series on this list rather than individual issues or volumes. I felt that this provides a much more comprehensive list, and as most series are written and drawn by the same people, it is really easy to lump them together as one big product. This ended up being a pretty awesome list, and I think I have a fairly varied list of comics here. I will admit that I have a bit of a dearth of knowledge when it comes to comics written before the current canon, as I have only read a few scattered comics from the Star Wars Legends range. Still, I am happy with all the below entries, so let us see what made the cut.
Doctor Aphra (2020)
So far, only the first volume of this intriguing series has been released, and while it was pretty good, it did not live up to the amazing heights of the previous Doctor Aphra series. I have a strong feeling that the future entries of this series are going to be very awesome and it is entirely possible I will bump this series to the main Top Ten list this time next year.
The Rise of Kylo Ren
Top Ten List:
Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith
One of the first Star Wars comic series I ever read fully was Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith. Written by the legendary Charles Soule (the only writer featured on both this list and my favourite Star Wars novel list) and drawn by Giuseppe Camuncoli, this series follows Darth Vader in the aftermath of his transformation from Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith. This comic catches Vader at his rawest emotional period, and I loved the complex and powerful stories that Soule weaved around this iconic figure. This comic had the perfect blend of emotion, action and character development, and every single entry (including Volume 2: Legacy’s End and Volume 3: The Burning Seas), was exceptionally well written and intensely addictive.
Star Wars (2015)
You really cannot talk about Star Wars comics without mentioning this awesome long-running series, which was the centrepiece of the Star Wars comic franchise between 2015 and 2020. Set between the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, this series features the joint adventures of Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, C-3PO and R2-D2 as they attempt to overthrow the Empire. Filling in many gaps between the films, this series contained some clever and unique storylines that explore the Rebellion and the harsh battles they fought. This series started off big with an epic first volume, Skywalker Strikes, which not only had some awesome opening issues as the team faces off against Vader for the first time but which also shows the first time that Vader found out that Luke was his son (a very epic scene). There is an immense amount of talent behind these comics, with several awesome writers, including original writer Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen and Greg Pak, as well as an outstanding array of artists, such as John Cassaday, Salvador Larroca and Phil Noto. The different teams produce a little variability in the series, but they managed to produce an excellent and clever array of stories and big moments that make this series an absolute treat to read from one end to the other.
Darth Vader (2015)
While I did read some other Star War comic series first, this would be the one the really made with fall in love with the genre. Created by the awesome team of Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca, this great comic follows Darth Vader right after A New Hope and sees Vader set out to gain more power and influence after discovering the true identity of Luke Skywalker. Teaming up with his new subordinate/prisoner, Doctor Aphra, Vader tears through the galaxy while coming to terms with the fact that he has a son. An epic and powerful series that is consistently awesome from start to finish, this is one of the absolute best Star Wars comics out there and all four volumes (including Vader and Shadows and Secrets) are five-star reads.
Doctor Aphra (2016)
Spinning off from the Darth Vader (2015) series, this comic chronicles the wild adventures of the titular protagonist, Doctor Aphra, as she attempts to con everyone she comes across, be they family, former lover, deadly droid or Dark Lord of the Sith. Initially produced by the character’s original creators, Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca, this long-running series was later written by Simon Spurrier, who produced some outstanding storylines with support from an excellent cast of artists, including Kev Walker, Andrea Broccardo and Emilio Laiso. I absolutely loved this great series from its first issue, and it has some extraordinary storylines to it. Both of the volumes I reviewed, Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon and A Rogue’s End got five star reads from me, and I would definitely give the same to most of the earlier volumes in this epic and extremely entertaining series.
There was absolutely no way I could exclude this fantastic limited series off this list as it is the very definition of pure awesomeness. Vader Down is a clever and memorable crossover between the 2015 Star Wars and Darth Vader series and features the creative teams from both comics coming together to create a joint story. This cool limited series sees Vader forced down on a Rebel controlled planet while trying to capture Luke. Facing off against a horde of Rebel soldiers and vehicles, Vader does what he does best and annihilates everyone he comes across as he hunts his prey and the people who betrayed him. At the same time, Han, Leia, Doctor Aphra, and the entire supporting cast of both series get drawn into an epic showdown as they all try to escape with what they want. An outstanding and action packed comic with some amazingly clever inclusions to it, this is an incredible piece of Star Wars fiction to check out.
Star Wars (2020)
Following the coordinated end of the original range of Star Wars comics, Marvel immediately started a new assortment of series in 2020, set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The flagship series of this new range was the Star Wars (2020) comic, written by Charles Soule and featuring art by Jesus Saiz, Ramon Rosanas and Jan Bazaldua. While I have so far only read the first volume, The Destiny Path, I am deeply enjoying this fantastic series which follows the key original trilogy protagonists (with the exception of Han, because he’s frozen) as they come to terms with their defeats in The Empire Strikes Back. Featuring a great focus on Luke’s journey to become a Jedi master, Leia’s attempts to bring the Empire down and save the man she loves, and Lando’s quest for redemption, this series has a lot of potential and is a great recent entry to the canon.
Darth Vader (2020)
One of the newest additions to this list is the excellent Darth Vader (2020) series by Greg Pack and Raffaele Ienco. Set directly after Luke refuses to accept him as his father, this series contains an epic and powerful narrative about Vader as he comes to terms with his rejection in the most destructive way possible. The first volume in this series, Dark Heart of the Sith, was one of the best things I read in 2020, and I have a feeling this entire series is going to be one incredible and powerful thrill ride.
From the minds of Robbie Thompson and Marc Laming comes this excellent limited series, Target Vader, which brings back iconic Star Wars Legends bounty hunter Beilert Valance. This series follows Valance and a group of dangerous bounty hunters after they are given an impossible assassination mission to kill Darth Vader. Watching a group of bounty hunters go up against Vader is pretty awesome, and there are some great moments to this compelling read. I had a lot of fun with this series and it is definitely worth checking out.
I have so far featured a few comics by Charles Soule so far on this list, but I also have to include the Poe Dameron series. Working with artists Phil Noto and Angel Unzueta, Soule has done an incredible job of making Poe and his cohorts in the Resistance compelling and complex protagonists (something the films struggled with). With fascinating connections to other Star Wars comic series, this great work is set in the lead-up to The Force Awakens and examines the complex shadow war between the Resistance and the First Order.
The final entry on this list is the entertaining miniseries, Vader: Dark Visions, which takes a unique look at Darth Vader. This intriguing comic contains just five issues, each of which tell a very different story of Vader, which sees him viewed as a hero, a lover and the scariest being in the galaxy. Written by Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum and featuring five separate artists (Paolo Villanelli, Brian Level, David Lopez, Stephen Mooney and Geraldo Borges), this is a truly unique look at Darth Vader and I loved every clever tale within.
That is the end of my second Top Ten Tuesday list of today. I really enjoyed highlighting all these excellent Star Wars comics, and I would strongly recommend all of the above as they are really exceptional reads. Just like with my Top Ten Favourite Star Wars Novels list, I am planning to revisit this list every Star Wars day, and it will be interesting to see how different it is in a year’s time. I am not too sure what will get added to this list next time, although I think there are a few interesting crossovers coming, as well as the new High Republic comics. Make sure to come back in a year to how the list will have changed. In the meantime, check out my other Top Ten Tuesday list with my favourite Star Wars novels on it. And May the Fourth be with you!