Star Wars comics returned to Marvel Comics again in 2015 to much fanfare. This was especially helped by the release of numerous variant covers creating an atmosphere of having something for everyone. This return came after an absence of almost 30 years (the last issue of the original Marvel Star Wars series, #107, has a cover date of September 1986).
During this absence, Dark Horse comics filled the Star Wars comics void by producing a large selection of mostly original Star Wars titles for a good 23 years (i.e. even longer than Marvel had been printing Star Wars themselves). As a long-time Star Wars comic reader, I feel that it is a shame that many new Star Wars comic readers are not familiar with (or had conveniently forgotten) the efforts of Dark Horse so here are five Dark Horse Star Wars comic series that you should absolutely read!
1. Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi—Written by Tom Veitch (who wrote Star Wars: Dark Empire—the first Dark Horse Star Wars series—adapting Timothy Zahn’s novels of the same name), this series follows the adventures of the early Jedi Knights of the Old Republic. Characterisation is the strong point of this early series where the struggles and challenges of becoming a Jedi are presented remarkably. While there have been various spinoff series, this first series (also known as the Knights of the Old Republic) stands out the most for me. Available as Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi or Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi Omnibus in trade paperback format.
2. Star Wars: Devilworlds—This two-issue series is one for the comic fans for two words—Alan Moore. These issues reprint the famous comic scribe’s earlier work in the Marvel UK Star Wars series and Moore’s writing excellence is on full display in this collection of short tales. Available as Star Wars: Devilworlds #1-2 in single-issue form.
3. Star Wars: Legacy—Over the course of 23 years of producing Star Wars comics, one of the most popular writer / artist combinations under Dark Horse was John Ostrander and Jan Duursema. While Duursema’s vivid artwork was always an immediate draw for me, Ostrander’s intense and well-plotted storytelling was always the long-run pull. The pair did several Star Wars works together, including remarkable runs on Star Wars: Republic and Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi series, it is the Star Wars: Legacy series that stands out the most for me. Set over 100 years after The Return of the Jedi, it challenges the “happily-ever-after” notion after The Return of the Jedi (and for that matter, series after it), and presents the ever-constant movements in the balance of powers in the Star Wars universe. Available as Star Wars: Legacy in both trade paperback and hardcover format.
4. Star Wars: Tag & Bink—This series stands out for unfamiliar aspect in Star Wars comics—humour. It follows the adventures of two bumbling Rebel officers and the (unknowing) part they played in the Star Wars movies. The cleverness of the series lies in how writer Kevin Rubio weaves the story into the Star Wars films themselves. Aspects / characters that you may not have given a second thought while watching the films about are interwoven intelligently and just as importantly, humorously in this series of not-to-be-taken-too-seriously stories. Available as Star Wars: Tag & Bink Were Here in trade paperback form.
5. Star Wars (1997) #0—I admit, I am cheating a bit with this issue. While many are aware of Marvel’s main Star Wars comic series in the 1970s and 80s, less are familiar with their other forgotten (but certainly not forgettable) efforts. One of these include original comic stories first presented in Marvel’s pop culture magazine, Pizzazz. In fact, these are the first ever original Star Wars print format stories. Dark Horse showed its familiarity of Star Wars comic heritage and history by reprinting the first ever original Star Wars story (as it appeared in Pizzazz in 1978) in this 1997 one-shot issue. Available as Star Wars (1997) #0 in single-issue form released as exclusives released by American Entertainment (pictured) and Another Universe.
Other honourable mentions: Star Wars: Jabba the Hutt—The Art of the Deal, Star Wars: Dark Empire, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire