espite the vast amount of incredible storytelling and character evolution found within their pages, comic books and graphic novels still hold some stigma within the Star Wars community.
Maybe you’ve found yourself thinking that they’re “just for kids” or “not important to the big picture.”
Well, my friend, we’re here to tell you that not only are comics and graphic novels just as legitimate as novels, movies, and tv shows, but they also contain some of the best stories in a galaxy far, far away.
Now there are quite a few issues and volumes to be found on the shelves, and dipping your toe into that side of the pool can be a bit overwhelming.
Have no fear, young padawan.
This guide is here to welcome you into the beautiful, heartbreaking, harrowing, epic world of Star Wars comics. Let’s go!
Everything You Need to Know to Read Star Wars Comics
Here is our all-inclusive guide that will get you reading Star Wars comics in no time.
What Are Star Wars Comics?
Star Wars may have started with a series of life-changing, industry redefining films, but the story of Skywalkers, scoundrels, Jedi, and Sith has been conquering a number of other mediums for decades.
1978 saw the release of Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, the first Star Wars Expanded Universe novel, but before that in 1977, Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin shook up the entire world of entertainment by releasing a Star Wars project of their own.
A comic book. A cartoon. A funny paper. A devil magazine.
Alright I made that last one up, but didn’t you believe it just for a second?
Star Wars #1 may have simply been a retelling of the wildly successful A New Hope, but seeing Luke, Han, and Leia in this style of storytelling helped bridge the worlds of Star Wars and comic book fans to create a united community.
More fans started walking into comic shops, and comic creators began to realize that the adventures of a galaxy far, far away weren’t constrained merely to the screen or the novel.
This epiphany led to 107 issues of Star Wars being released by Marvel between 1977 and 1986 which brought in a host of new fans including the illustrious Cavan Scott. (Check out our interview with Cavan to hear how Star Wars comics and Jaxxon the rabbit began his Star Wars journey).
But Eric. I read a bunch of Star Wars comics from Dark Horse. What do you mean Marvel published them?
That’s a great question, and I’m so glad we’re finally on a first name basis! This is a big step for us.
There have been a number of publishers over the years that have created Star Wars comics, and before the Disney Acquisition, these comics covered eras from the beginning to the end of the Star Wars timeline.
Canon vs Legends in Star Wars Comics
After the Original Marvel years, most Star Wars comics were being published through Dark Horse who started their hold on the Star Wars license with 1991’s Dark Empire and kept it until Disney acquired Star Wars in 2014.
These stories spanned from the dawning of the Republic through thousands of years of galactic history, but if you’re looking to tie those stories into the current Marvel comics, you’re out of luck.
Because nowadays, these comics are classified as Legends.
For a deeper dive into the difference between the Canon and Legends titles, check out our comprehensive article, but simply put:
Star Wars comics that were released before Star Wars #1 in 2015 exist in one universal continuity, and all those released after exist in another.
In 2015, Marvel, again gained hold of the Star Wars comics property and all comics produced since then exist in the same continuity as the films.
If you’ve been a comics reader for a while, think about the difference between Amazing Spider-Man and Ultimate Spider-Man. Both series tell fantastic stories about similar characters, but they exist in different worlds.
Nowadays, Star Wars Canon comics are published solely by Marvel and IDW with the Marvel comics being aimed mainly at adults and the IDW Adventures telling tales of peril and triumph to our Padawans and younglings.
How to Read Star Wars Comics
Once you’ve chosen your series, character, or era that you want to explore, it’s time to talk about the best way to acquire all of these comics.
There are a few ways to do this.
Before you decide to start buying, you need to know that Star Wars comics can be purchased in a few different forms.
- Single Issues: If you want to keep as up to date with new stories as possible, or if you want to try a few different books to start out, you’ll want to buy single issues. You can buy these physically at your local comic book shop, or you can buy them digitally to read your comics online on a computer or tablet from sites like Comixology and Marvel.com
- Trade Paperbacks: These paperback editions collect full story arcs and usually contain about six individual issues in one easy-to-read package. Even though these collections require you to wait a little longer than single issues, they are much easier to display, and you’ll save some money in the long run.
- Graphic Novels: Like trade paperbacks, these volumes compile a number of issues that create a single story arc, but unlike trades, graphic novels contain a single story with a beginning, middle, and end. To add to the confusion, some people (us included) use the terms graphic novel and trade paperback interchangeably. Just think of them as multiple single issue comics bound together.
- Omnibus: Think of an omnibus like a bunch of trades smushed together in one beautiful hardcover book. These collections contain 20, 30, or even 40 issues in one big binding. Not all Star Wars comics are bound into a hardcover, but most of the main series are.
That all sounds great! But wait, is there a way that I can help Youtini with my purchases?
How sweet of you to ask! There absolutely is a way that you can enjoy all the comics you can imagine while also helping Youtini.
If you look up any of the comics that you want on Youtini.com (or use the handy links peppered throughout this article), you’ll be taken directly to a book profile all about your comic. On that profile, you’ll see an Amazon button which will allow you to purchase your comic from Amazon, and we’ll get a little kickback as a reward for sending you there.
No additional cost for you! We just get to play Robin Hood and steal a little out of Amazon’s pocket.
Keeping Up With New Releases
Alright Eric. That all sounds pretty cool, but how do I keep up with the new comics? Aren’t they released like - all the time?
Welcome back, disembodied voice. Thank you for another excellent question.
There are a lot of comics being released every week, and if you want to keep up to date with all of them, there’s no better resource than the Youtini New Releases page.
Our incredible data managers (Hey there, Frank!) are constantly updating release dates, cover art, and preorder links in order to help you follow all your favorite stories. Check out the New Releases page.
Reading Canon Marvel Star Wars Comics for the First Time
The Best Star Wars Comics Reading Order
Before we start buying Star Wars comics, it’s important to ask the question: how do we jump into this medium in the first place? The answer, as you may have guessed, will vary from reader to reader.
You may know from our Best Reading Order content that we don’t recommend reading chronologically when it comes to novels. However, when it comes to the sequential storytelling of comic books, that actually may be your best bet.
A lot of the storytelling in the Star Wars comic book universe builds on the foundation that came before it, and in order to get the full context of the narrative, we would highly suggest at least starting with the #1 issue for your favorite series.
We would highly suggest at least starting with the #1 issue for your favorite series.
Thankfully, when Marvel relaunched the Star Wars continuity back in 2015, they released a number of series that focused on different characters and themes. Those books created our Youtini Foundational Comics and are the best books to start any reader’s journey:
- Star Wars by Jason Aaron & John Cassaday
- Star Wars: Darth Vader by Kieron Gillen & Salvador Larroca
- Star Wars: Poe Dameron by Charles Soule & Phil Noto
- Star Wars: Doctor Aphra by Kieron Gillen & Kev Walker
- Star Wars: Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith by Charles Soule & Giuseppe Camuncoli
Some of these comic series run longer than others, so if you find yourself getting bored with one, you can easily switch to another before finding your way back home.
I hear what you’re saying, Eric, but what if I want to focus on a single character or era instead?
Disembodied voice, you make an excellent point. And for this particular situation, look no further than our Youtini Reading Collections.
While many of these collections focus on novels and short stories, we have also taken it upon ourselves to include comics where they fit the best!
For example, could you really create a Poe Dameron collection without including his signature series? Would Darth Vader’s guide truly be complete with the mythology that Charles Soule added in Dark Lord of the Sith?
At the end of the day, when establishing your personal Star Wars comics reading order, the singular most important factor should be your enjoyment.
If you want to know what the main trio was up to after A New Hope, the mainline Star Wars comic is for you. If you want to tap into your Dark Side after finishing the Darth Bane trilogy, then you can’t go wrong with any of the Vader books.
But if you want to try out five different series that will give you a fundamental understanding of the new era of Star Wars comics, you may want to try...
The Best Canon Star Wars Comics to Read First
Star Wars (2015-2019)
Writers: Jason Aaron (1-37), Kieron Gillen (38-67), Greg Pak (68-75)
Artists: John Cassaday (1-6), Simone Bianchi (7), Stuart Immonen (8-12), Mike Deodato, Jr. (13-14), Mike Mayhew (15, 20), Leinil Francis Yu (16-19), Jorge Molina (21-25), Salvador Larroca (26-55), Andrea Broccardo (56), Angel Unzueta (57-67), Phil Noto (68-75)
Star Wars was the flagship title for Marvel’s relaunch of the Star Wars brand. This series follows the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa, and more as they face old enemies and new threats alike in the time between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The writers and artists take us all over the galaxy from Jedha to Mon Cala and beyond, and a wonderful batch of fresh faces are added to the main roster before our crew makes its way to Hoth.
Star Wars: Darth Vader (2015-2016)
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Star Wars: Darth Vader brought the famous Dark Lord into the Canon continuity of comics for the first time with stories that explore the melancholic reaches of Vader’s mind alongside the brutality that always follows in his wake. This series not only delves deeper into the life of the Sith Lord but also introduces the fan favorite character, Dr. Chelli Lona Aphra, who branched out into her own series shortly thereafter.
Star Wars: Poe Dameron (2016-2018)
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Phil Noto (1-13), Angel Unzueta (14-31)
Star Wars: Poe Dameron chronicles the escapades of the titular pilot and Black Squadron as they run missions for the burgeoning Resistance in the era leading up to The Force Awakens. This series examines the depths of Poe’s character and fleshes out the pilots that surround him in the events of the film. Fans that need more Snap Wexley and dogfights in their life can’t afford to miss this one.
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2016-2019)
Writers: Kieron Gillen (1-13, co-writer 14-19), Simon Spurrier (20-40, co-writer 14-19)
Artists: Kev Walker (1-6, 9-13, 20-25), Andrea Broccardo (7, 8, 31), Emilio Laiso (14-19, 26-31), Casper Wijngaard (32-40), Wilston Santos (32-34, 36)
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra was a landmark release for the Star Wars Comics world as it became the first Canon comic series to be based solely around a non-film character. Aphra rose to prominence in Star Wars: Darth Vader as an Indiana Jones-esque daredevil archaeologist, and throughout her series, the themes of adventure and daring mix with the zanier side of Star Wars to create a marevelously unique and tremendously fun experience.
Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith (2017-2018)
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncolo
Dark Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith represented a brand new direction for Star Wars comics upon its release due to Soule’s thorough examination of Dark Side mythology. The series revolves around Vader’s attempts to reconcile with the loss of his one true love and the weight of his new burden as Dark Lord of the Sith. Charles Soule’s meteoric rise to the top of the Star Wars fandom can largely be attributed to this book.
Reading Star Wars Legends Comics
Does this mean that the new comics are the only ones that matter? Absolutely not.
Just like Legends novels, Legends comics contain fun, contained stories that can be enjoyed just as much by readers now as they were when they were published.
If you want to deep dive into Legends comics, almost every comic ever printed can be purchased and collected in the form of Marvel Epic Collections.
These giant collections can contain over 20 comics each, and they are wonderful ways to catch up on entire eras of Star Wars storytelling from the Clone Wars to the Legacy of the New Republic in a beautifully concise package.
Some of the best Epic Collections to start with include:
- Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Empire Vol. 1
- Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The New Republic Vol. 1
- Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Old Republic Vol. 1
- Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: Rise of the Sith Vol. 1
- Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Clone Wars Vol. 1
- Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Rebellion Vol. 1
- Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: Legacy Vol. 1
Check out the complete list of Epic Collections.
Congratulations. You’ve made the decision to dive into the world of Star Wars comics, and we’re so excited to hear all about your upcoming journey!
If you want to talk to a bunch of like-minded fans about your new love of comics, head over to Our Discord Community where we have a special channel all about comics and graphic novels.
If you want to keep up with the newest comics coming out every single week, head on over to our New Releases section where our site programmers will make sure you never miss an issue.
You can find all of that and more here at Youtini, and no matter where your Star Wars journey takes you next, we’ll be here to help guide your way. May the Force be with you!