Darth Vader and Cry of Shadows

Friday Disney announced it is pulling the Star Wars exclusive licensing deal from Mike Richardson’s Dark Horse Comics at the end of the year–a deal that gave fans the very best Star Wars stories written in the franchise over the past 20 years.  Disney owns Marvel Comics and so this was not a big surprise, although it is disappointing to see something so successful going from one of the “little guy” independents to a big conglomerate that has sucked up everything from ABC to ESPN and has become adept at throttling the number of voices in the media marketplace.  Star Wars comics hold the reputation they have because the expanded universe was built brick by brick at Dark Horse in Milwaukie, Oregon, by some of the best writers and artists around.  The mainstream press is quick to refer to the franchise “going back to Marvel Comics” because Marvel published the initial Star Wars series Issues #1-107 back in the 1970s and 1980s, but that series just can’t compare to what was done at Dark Horse, beginning with its Dark Empire series.

If you haven’t read the expanded universe of Star Wars via comic books, you’re missing out.  Get to a comic book store now to check out the current monthly Star Wars series while they are still made by the best creators around, including Brian Wood’s Star Wars, which takes place between the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, and The Star Wars, based on George Lucas’s original draft screenplay, each reviewed here last month.  We think Dark Horse will have no problem backfilling its market niche with other new series, one of which should be expanding its Firefly/Serenity book line.

Here are some other great Star Wars series published by Dark Horse Comics that you might have missed:

Dark Empire

Check out where it all began with Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy’s Dark Empire, Dark Empire II, and a two-issue third act Empire’s End all available in the Star Wars: Dark Empire Trilogy.  If you love the original characters of the saga you will be happy with this book.  Dave Dorman’s painted cover art for the series is some of the best movie poster quality Star Wars art to appear in print.

Thrawn trilogy

Back when we had nothing to read of the Empire but Brian Daley’s Star Wars novels, Timothy Zahn wrote a three-novel series that propelled Star Wars back into our thoughts again.  Dark Horse published a great graphic series adaptation of Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command, in Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy

Mara Jade Emperors Hand

Back in the 1990s one of my favorite expanded universe characters was Mara Jade, who would later marry Luke Skywalker.  Timothy Zahn and Michael Stackpole created Star Wars: Mara Jade – By the Emperor’s Hand, showcasing this cool character whose origin was with the Dark Side.

SW Purge

John Ostrander and Douglas Wheatley created a popular one-shot called Star Wars: Purge, documenting the days of the Dark Time, and taking place after Episode III (with nice Adam Hughes cover work).

Crimson Empire

Dark Horse Comics’ chief Mike Richardson wrote the bloody series Star Wars: The Crimson Empire Saga, a tale of the last of Emperor Palpatine’s royal guard.

SWDotJ_1_Final

Ostrander again wrote another Star Wars series, Dawn of the Jedi, with Jan Duursma.  It’s available in two trade volumes, Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi Volume 1 – Force Storm, and Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi Volume 2 – Prisoner of Bogan.

Ninth Assassin

Last year Tim Siedell wrote Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin, about an assassin hired to kill Darth Vader, and Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows, about a clone war trooper under the command of the Jedi who switches loyalty to the Empire, although it is not available in a trade edition until later this year.

SWAgentsOfTheEmpire2_Final

If James Bond intrigue is your thing, try Star Wars: Agent of the Empire, another very fun read written by John Ostrander.  It’s available in two trade editions, Star Wars: Agent of the Empire, Volume 1–Iron Eclipse and Star Wars: Agent of the Empire, Volume 2–Hard Targets.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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