Marvel's Star Wars comic is starting next month, so with a heavy heart we say goodbye to Dark Horse's comics. It's a real goodbye too: a few will get republished, but after December 31st you'll no longer be able to buy Dark Horse's Star Wars line. Here's the must-read stories to grab before they're gone forever.
It came as almost a surprise to us when we learned that Dark Horse would stop selling their old Star Wars comics, but alas, after contacting Aub Driver of Dark Horse, we got confirmation that, although fans will be able to keep their digital purchases, after December 31st, they'll pull all of their Star Wars digital titles for sale:
After the 31st — All SW titles will be pulled. Anyone who has purchased digital copies will still be allowed to access them in their cloud.
Our last print book came out November 5th: Star Wars: Dark Times Gallery Edition HC.
So after 23 years, Dark Horse's long, excellent run on Star Wars comes to a close. Never fear though: Here's just a few of the finest stories from their back catalogue you should consider picking up before the end of the month.
Tag & Bink Are Dead
Writer: Kevin Rubio
Artist: Lucas Marangon
What if the Star Wars universe pulled a Tom Stoppard and gave us a retelling of the movie's iconic events, from the perspective of two minor nobodies? That's what Tag & Bink is: Rosencrantz & Guidenstern in a galaxy far far away. This miniseries followed the two Rebel soldiers from the Tantive IV to the Death Star II, and even back into the prequel era as they gallivanted about in the background of the Star Wars saga. Rubio is probably best known to fans for his Cops pastiche Troopers, so if you want some of that sort of silliness injected into your Star Wars, Tag & Bink is where to find it.
Collected in: Star Wars: Tag and Bink Were Here, or available as a complete digital bundle from Dark Horse here.
Knights of the Old Republic
Writer: John Jackson Miller
Artists: Brian Ching, Travel Foreman, Dustin Weaver, Harvey Tolibao, Bong Dazo, Scott Hepburn, Alan Robinson, Dean Zachary, Ron Chan
Video game fans ear's might pick up at hearing that title, but don't get too excited - this series of comics set 4,000 years before the movies shares a setting with the hit RPG series, but that's all. But be excited anyway, because it's a great comic series! Following the story of a Padawan framed for the murders of his fellow Jedi learners, KOTOR told a grim tale about roads to hell being paved with good intentions, and one that took Jedi characters far beyond the usual goodie-two-shoes they can be. Even if you're not familiar with the setting, KOTOR is some great Star Wars storytelling, even if it's so far removed from the characters we know and love.
Collected in: Star Wars Omnibus: Knights of the Old Republic Volumes 1, 2 and 3 - individual digital issues and story bundles can be found here.
Writers: John Jackson Miler, Mike Harrison, Rob Williams, John Ostrander
Artists: Scott Hepburn, Dave Ross, Doug Wheatley, Dustin Weaver, Jan Duursema
Comic books and crossover stories go hand in hand - but Vector, a ridiculously ambitious story arc that started in 2008 - wasn't just any mish-mash of characters. It told a story across thousands of years and four of Dark Horse's flagship Star Wars series (Dark Times, KOTOR, Rebellion and Legacy), following a single character, throughout, Celeste Morne, and the Muur Talisman, an ancient Sith artifact. Morne would have the greatest impact in Legacy following the crossover event, but Vector is a must read for the outlandishness of tying together so many eras of the Expanded Universe.
Collected in: Alas, there is no TPB for Vector, as it forms storylines for other Dark Horse series and can be found in their respective collections, but individual issues from the Storyline (as it criss-crossed over other series) can be purchased digitally.
Writer: John Ostrander
Artist: Douglas Wheatley
Although Revenge of the Sith showed us Anakin's attack on the Jedi Temple, we've only ever heard the tales of Darth Vader's relentless pursuit of the remaining Jedi in the early days of the Empire - but Purge gave us the horrific, unstoppable march of Vader as he cut through Jedi after Jedi. And even though you're hear for the Jedi-slaughter (several Jedi that comic fans had followed through Dark Horses' Republic storyline met their ends here), Purge is a great character piece for Anakin, and the perceived betrayal by Obi-Wan that drives him.
Also, I will always remember Purge for destroying my childhood innocence by showing the death of Sia-Lan Wezz (above), the Jedi Knight character created as a pre-made class for Wizard of the Coast's Star Wars tabletop RPG, who I always played as. DAMN YOU, VADER.
Collected in: Clone Wars Volume 9: Endgame, bundle available digitally here.
X-Wing: Rogue Squadron
Writers: Michael A. Stackpole, Darko Macan, Jan Strnad, Scott Tolson, Mike W. Barr
Artists: Edvin Biukovic, John Nadeau, Gary Erskine, Steve Crespo, Jim Hall, Drew Johnson
Do you like your Star Wars with less lightsabers, and more spaceships? Well then, this series is for you. Rogue Squadron, just like the brilliant book series of the same name, followed the adventures of Wedge Antilles and the crack team of Rebel pilots that made up the Rogues, as well as their Imperial counterparts led by Baron Soontir Fel. Rogue Squadron was such a hit Dark Horse extended the series beyond the original 3-arc storyline into 35 issues, packed with full on space combat and a deep dive into the military aspects of the Star Wars universe.
Collected in: Star Wars Omnibus: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Volumes 1, 2 and 3 - a bundle of all three can be found here.
Star Wars Tales
Writers and Artists: Due to its nature as an Anthology, far too many to list here, but notables included Timothy Zahn, Ben Templesmith, Kilian Plunkett, Sergio Aragonés, Haden Blackman, Jan Duursema and many, many more. Comic Vine has an extensive credit list for the entire series here.
Ask any follower of Dark Horse's Star Wars Comics about Tales and you'll probably find them promptly losing their minds as they try to tell you about it - this anthology series is highly regarded. Each issue contained several short stories, some canon and some wildly non-canon, and are some of the best Star Wars stories outside of the movies full stop. From the sublime (Extinction, another personal story about Vader hunting down a Jedi from his comic book past) to the completely absurd (the infamous Skippy the Jedi Droid, aka the one that turned R5-D4's bad motivator explosion into a heroic act of sacrifice by a force-sensitive droid), Tales is an anthology worth delving into.
Collected in: Star Wars Tales Volumes 1-6. Digital copies available here.
Republic: The Battle of Jabiim
Writers: Haden Blackman, John Ostrander
Artists: Brian Ching, Jan Duursema
Dark Horse's Republic Series is fondly remembered for the way it fleshed out the events of the Clone Wars in a way the Star Wars canon wouldn't until the recently ended (and dearly missed) animated series, and fan favourites like Aayla Secura, Quinlan Vos, Kit Fisto, Plo Koon, Asaaj Ventress and many more all got their moments in the spotlight throughout the extensive run. There are so many great stories held within, but if one has to stand out, it's the epic multi-part story that retells the Battle of Jabiim. It's a tough, bloody battle for the Republic, and Obi-Wan is believed killed early on, leaving Anakin alone to lead a group of similarly orphaned Jedi Padawans in a suicidal defense. Clone Wars was a great TV show, but if you want stories about the Clone Wars not restricted by the format of a family show, Republic is a must read, and The Battle of Jabiim stands out as one of its finest.
Collected in: Clone Wars Volume 3 - Last Stand on Jabiim. All 9 volumes of Republic can be purchased digitally here.
Writer: Tom Veitch
Artist: Cam Kennedy
The grand daddy of them all - the one that started Dark Horse's era with Star Wars 23 years ago, and perhaps the most iconic Star Wars comic. Set shortly after Return of the Jedi, Dark Empire sees the resurgence of the Emperor (Well a clone of him that... okay, certain elements of Dark Empire don't really hold up today!) and the first time Star Wars writers dared to answer 'What if Luke succumbed to the temptation of the Dark Side?'. An epic story to rival the scope of the movies, striking art - there's a reason we still hold Dark Empire as one of the most essential tales ever told by the now defunct Expanded Universe.
Collected in: Dark Empire I, II and III - individual issues available digitally here.
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