From film and television, to video games and toys, the Star Wars saga has helped mold modern pop culture for generations. Since the debut of George Lucas’s space opera in 1977, scarcely can you move in the world without seeing its presence, on everything from lunch boxes, to the cover of tech magazines. While it’s always been prolific, ever since Lucasfilm was acquired by Disney, all manner of Star Wars consumption has been carefully designed to provide fans with a uniquely immersive experience. Every medium with which Star Wars is delivered ties it to another, and nowhere is that process more integrated than in the world of comics.
Star Wars comics have been available since 1977 through a variety of publishers, beginning with Marvel’s six issue adaptation of the films. It wouldn’t be the publisher to solely produce Star Wars storylines again until after Disney acquired it in 2009, and Lucasfilm in 2012. The Star Wars comic license would return to Marvel in 2015. The deals effectively retconned the work of authors and artists that had been carefully shaping the Star Wars franchise prior to 2015, and while that was bad news for fans of the Expanded Universe publications, it paved the way for some compelling new canon. The creative product that came out of the Disney and Marvel union wasn’t wholly divergent from George Lucas’s vision; in fact, it expanded upon it and filled in gaps of time fans had been curious about for decades. And as Disney creates the latest Star Wars films, Marvel Star Wars comics go hand in hand with the adventures of brand new characters, as well as cherished old ones.
20 SIDIOUS CREATED ANAKIN WITH MIDI-CHLORIANS
Marvel’s incredibly popular Darth Vader stand-alone series (which highlights the time period just after Revenge of the Sith, when Vader was made Darth Sidious’s apprentice and the Emperor’s enforcer) has just confirmed a fan theory about Anakin Skywalker’s origins.
In Issue #25, hoping to resurrect his dead wife Padme, Vader has unlocked a portal that leads to the afterlife. A Force Vision reveals Darth Sidious standing over his mother Shmi Skywalker, giving life to the “Chosen One” by manipulating midi-chlorians and the Force itself. It was his hope that by creating Anakin, he would tip the balance towards the Dark Side and wipe out the Jedi forever.
19 KEY MOMENTS FROM ROGUE ONE REVEALED
As much as Rogue One provided its own filler for certain events between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, it also left many unexplained. Marvel came to the rescue, and expanded on some of the characters and situations introduced in the story detailing the Rebels stealing the Death Star plans.
In a six-part Rogue One mini-series, Galen Erso explains the importance of Bodhi Rook’s mission to defect from the Empire, Jyn Erso undergoes warrior training with Saw Gerrera, and Bail Organa has a frank talk with Mon Mothma about the importance of the Senate knowing about the super weapon’s existence, which up until that point it thought was a mining vessel.
18 VADER HELD PALPATINE RESPONSIBLE FOR PADME’S DEMISE
Darth Sidious planted in an impressionable Anakin Skywalker’s head that the Dark Side granted many unnatural abilities, including the ability to stop loved ones from passing away. When the lure of the Dark Side became too much, and started the Jedi on the path of becoming Darth Vader at the end of Revenge of the Sith, Sidious explained that Vader had been the one to cause the loss of his wife.
While still being fitted for his suit, Vader did not take the news well. The Marvel series Darth Vader explains he did not blame himself, as Sidious perhaps wished. He blamed him, and threw him against a wall with the Force for not being able to give him the skills to prevent her death.
17 VADER BUILT HIS CASTLE WHERE HE COULD BE WITH PADME
Aside from looking imposing and discouraging visitors, there is a reason Vader chose to build his castle on the lava planet of Mustafar -- the site was strong with the Dark Side of the Force. The site where he built his towering black estate promised him access to many Sith secrets he hoped would help him uncover a way to resurrect his wife.
As the Marvel Darth Vader series explains, deep within the bowels of his domicile there is a portal that bends reality, has the capacity to create temporal anomalies, and perhaps even encounter those long gone. It was his hope to use it to bring Padme back to life.
16 LUKE CONFRONTED VADER BEFORE EMPIRE
Though the duel at Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back is one of the most exciting and momentous clashes of good and evil in the Star Wars saga, the Marvel series Star Wars #1 and #2 reveal that it was not in fact Luke’s first time confronting Darth Vader. While on a mission with Han and Leia to sabotage an Imperial facility shortly after the Battle of Yavin, Luke is separated from the group and runs smack into the Dark Lord of the Sith.
Having no tutelage from Master Yoda yet, Vader bests Luke easily. They are also unaware of their familial bond, but it is a chance for Vader to be even more curious about Luke, when he recognizes his old lightsaber.
15 DARTH VADER REVISITED TATOOINE
Anakin Skywalker returned to Tatooine as an adult and a Jedi Knight in Attack of the Clones, intent on finding his mother to set her free. Tragically, he would only see her shortly before her demise at the hands of Tusken Raiders. The Marvel Darth Vader series confirmed he returned to the planet now as a Sith Lord, intent on investigating Luke.
He did the usual rounds: returned to the site of the burnt Lars’ homestead, returned to Obi-Wan’s old hermit home, and even paid Jabba the Hutt a visit (where he promptly Force choked him). Seeing Vader in so many familiar locales adds poignancy to both his tragic origins and Luke’s.
14 BOBA FETT TOLD VADER LUKE’S TRUE IDENTITY
By the time Vader and Luke have their showdown in Cloud City, Vader is already aware that Luke Skywalker is his son. He has discussed it in a holo-transmission with the Emperor, and it has been decided he will turn his son to the Dark Side or kill him. But how did he learn of Luke’s identity?
In Star Wars #4 - #6, Vader recruits bounty hunter Boba Fett well before we see him for the first time on screen in The Empire Strikes Back. He wants to know the identity of the Force sensitive Rebel pilot who blew up the Death Star. Fett tortures Tatooine residents until he gets the name: Skywalker, which means nothing to him, but everything to Vader when he reveals it.
13 LEIA EXHIBITED A LOT MORE FORCE SENSITIVITY
The standalone series Princess Leia takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, where the Princess is searching for surviving Alderaanians on her mother’s homeworld of Naboo. When she sees an image of Padme, she is gripped by Force sensitivity as her surroundings seem somehow familiar.
This echoes the senses Leia exhibits in Empire when she knows Luke’s location, and in Return of the Jedi when she senses he couldn’t have passed away on the Death Star. In Shattered Empire #3, after the events of Return of the Jedi, Leia is again on Naboo, but this time picking up dark side energy from the hanger bay where Darth Maul first revealed himself.
12 LUKE, LEIA, AND HAN HIJACKED A STAR DESTROYER
What better ship to carry cargo to a ravaged planet than a heavily armed, massive Imperial Star Destroyer. In Star Wars #22, Luke, Han, and Leia decide to hijack The Harbinger to carry out just such a mercy mission.
The plan was simple: The Millennium Falcon, along with a squad of Rebel fighters bombarded the colossal vessel at key points, while Luke snuck aboard and removed its reactor core, causing all Imperial personnel to abandon ship. Jettisoning the primary reactor made the Empire think the ship was lost, but they managed to complete their harrowing mission using the secondary reactor on board.
11 OBI-WAN WAS NO HERMIT ON TATOOINE
Ever since Disney bought Lucasfilm and has steadily released more Star Wars movies, fans have wanted a standalone Obi-Wan Kenobi movie about his life on Tatooine. While that may still be a ways off, they can be content with a standalone comic series following Obi-Wan’s adventures as “Old Ben” between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.
In Star Wars #15 and #20, appropriately titled “Old Ben’s Journal”, Obi-Wan is revealed to have done everything under the twin suns. From fighting a Wookiee bounty hunter named Black Krrsantan, to fending off hordes of Tusken Raiders, he certainly wasn’t being an old hermit when he was keeping tabs on Luke.
10 UNCLE OWEN HAD IT OUT WITH OBI-WAN OVER LUKE
The Prequels failed to provide a lot of context for Owen Lars’ relationship with the Skywalkers -- either his adopted mother figure, Shmi, or her son Anakin, who would become his brother by marriage. One day he’s meeting Anakin as an adult for the first time prior to him becoming Darth Vader, and the next he’s taking in Anakin’s son with a watchful Obi-Wan Kenobi not far away.
In the Star Wars comics, Uncle Owen actually has it out with Old Ben Kenobi, railing on him to stay away from the boy, and not to get him into any more danger than he’d already placed him. “Haven’t you murdered enough Skywalkers, Kenobi?”
9 VADER AND THE EMPEROR OFTEN BACKSTABBED EACH OTHER
As is the way with the Sith, Masters and Apprentices always vie for power; it is the nature of their order. Throughout the original Star Wars films, though Darth Vader exhibits a lot of sanctimonious subservience, he does finally toss his Master down a reactor shaft. He had finally had enough of Palpatine’s malicious machinations.
In the Darth Vader series, Palpatine is always seen trying to undermine his apprentice, whether sending assassins after him, or scheming to replace him. He even blamed Vader for the Death Star’s destruction. This but fed the seething fire of hatred burning in Vader, who promptly made machinations of his own, looting Imperial treasuries, and creating his own secret army.
8 HAN SOLO WAS MARRIED BEFORE LEIA
Though Star Wars fans would like to think that Leia was the only woman to ever make an honest man out of Han Solo in blissful matrimony, the Star Wars comics had other plans. In 2015 Sana Solo was introduced; a fast talking, gun-toting smuggler just like Han, who had hunted her husband from one side of the galaxy to another.
While Han couldn’t deny it happened, he could deny that Sana meant anything to him. In an effort to regain Leia’s trust, he explained that he and Sana had concocted the scam of marriage out of revenge against a crime-lord that had double crossed them, and that it was in name only.
7 DOCTOR APHRA
One of the most unique and interesting characters to emerge from the Star Wars comics, Doctor Chelli Lona Aphra was an archaeologist, inventor, treasure hunter, and adventuress that worked with Darth Vader to retrieve everything from secret intelligence to Sith relics. And she obtained something far greater than any corporeal prize -- the Dark Lord’s respect.
It wasn’t long before Doctor Aphra feared for her life under the Sith Lord’s employ, however, and eventually faked her end to be free from his patronage. He never discovered her whereabouts, but she had a sneaking suspicion he knew she wasn’t gone, but allowing her to think so.
6 LOBOT IS GIVEN A BACKSTORY
Along with other notable Star Wars characters, Lando got a mini-series of his own and in it, his sidekick Lobot was finally given a backstory. Prior to becoming the Administrator for Cloud City, Lando was about the business of being a suave smuggler and card shark, and Lobot was his chatty first mate with cybernetic implants.
During a heist to steal the Emperor’s yacht, Lobot was wounded to such an extent that his human mind couldn’t prevent the cybernetic implants from taking over. He was effectively turned into the silent automaton you see in The Empire Strikes Back, causing Lando no end of guilt.
5 THE HISTORY OF C-3PO’s RED ARM
Ever wonder how C-3PO got his random red arm in The Force Awakens? The touching backstory behind his atypical appendage involved a droid in service to the First Order called 0-MR1, or Omrie for short. He was Threepio’s ward while being transported to the Resistance base for questioning, but the ship crashed on a harsh planet en route.
Threepio and Omrie survive the crash, and spent their time stranded by discussing droid morality when on opposite sides of a galactic war. The two decide to work together to survive long enough to be rescued. When Threepio is attacked by a giant swamp creature and loses an arm, Omrie sacrifices himself to save him. Threepio takes Omrie’s arm as a replacement and tribute to his brave friend.
4 DARTH VADER WAS THRASHED BY JEDI
Early on in his Jedi hunting career, Darth Vader was not the formidable force of nature fans have come to know. Still getting used to the mechanics of his suit of armor and life support systems, he had a difficult time controlling the Force being more machine than man.
In Darth Vader #3, he was dispatched by Emperor Palpatine to take out Jedi Master Kirak Infil’a, who made quick work of the fledgling Sith Lord. He was tossed about like a jawa before being hurtled over the side of a cliff. As disconcerting as it was watching Vader struggle, it demonstrated his ingenuity when he was forced to use a broken battle droid to fashion himself a new leg in the midst of the duel.
3 HAN ONCE COMPETED IN A 12-HOUR SPACE RACE
Han Solo’s mini-series sought to explore a whole other host of heists, scams, raids, and adventures the smuggler participated in, though this time it was in service to the Rebel Alliance. Though he has mostly been famous for making the Kessel Run in 12 Parsecs, in issue #3 he made the Dragon Void Run in 12 hours.
On a top secret mission for Princess Leia, Han entered one of the most dangerous races in the galaxy that lured all the best starpilots, including him. In the end, though he didn’t win the race, he won something far more valuable: Leia’s good opinion.
2 VADER WENT AFTER PADME’S MORTICIAN
At the end of Revenge of the Sith, after Padme has already given birth to her twins Luke and Leia, she passes away and is buried on her home planet of Naboo. Pains are taken to make sure that at her funeral, it appears that she passed away with child, lest it should get back to Darth Vader that their children are still alive.
When Vader knew of Luke’s existence, he realized he had been lied to, and sent Doctor Aphra and her droids to retrieve the mortician responsible for treating Padme. After being violently interrogated at length, the mortician does confirm the boy was born, but takes the secret of Leia’s existence to the grave.
1 CHEWIE GOT HIS MEDAL
While Han Solo gets much of the credit for providing the cover fire necessary for Luke to destroy the Death Star, Chewie’s part can’t be discounted. Not only was he co-piloting the Millennium Falcon, it was most likely a pep talk from the Wookiee that made Han turn around and join in the Rebels’ fight anyway. So where was his medal at the end of A New Hope?
In Chewie’s own Marvel mini series, he finally receives it. In true generous Wookiee fashion, however, he gives it away to a young girl who helps him save some captives from a slave trader in the employ of the Empire.