Underrated: Star Wars Comics

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet-pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week:  Star Wars Comics.

I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan in the world. I’m also not the oldest, either – oh, sure I watched the movies as a kid, saw the Prequel trilogy in the cinema, but it wasn’t until Force Awakens came out that the franchise really captured me hook, line, and sinker. I love the movies (well, all but a couple that are in the Prequel trilogy), but have never gone beyond those into the expanded universe (EU) of comics and books published prior to the franchise being owned by Disney. I understand that since Disney has purchased the Star Wars property from George Lucas that a lot of those stories are no longer cannon, but are no less enjoyable than they were prior to the purchase. I assume – I’ve never actually read those, and probably never will. But since the purchase, Disney have been releasing their own line of comics through Marvel (and books, probably, but I’m not focusing on those today) to re-expand the lore that they stripped away when the original EU was stripped away.

Despite being a big comics fan, and a new Star Wars fan, I never once thought about reading the comics that were going to reintroduce us to the world and build upon what was known from the movies. It just never occurred to me.

Star Wars was something I watched not something I read.

That changed this year when I found a rather significant haul of Star Wars trade paper backs for a remarkably decent price. I’m willing to read almost any tpb or graphic novel if the price is right and it collects a full story (not always the entire story, but one that can be read alone – like Empire can be watched without watching A New Hope), and so I purchased seven or eight of the books. It didn’t take me long to start reading the books when I got home, and before I knew it I had finished the lot within a day or three – and much to my surprise, there wasn’t a dud amongst them.

While I’m not going to elaborate too much on the individual books because they may or may not be the subject of a future column, and this one is about the concept of the Star Wars comics (or something), it was fascinating to see Darth Vader put down a rebellion on a mining planet without caring whether or not the ruling monarch survived so long as the Empire still got what it needed from the planet. He wasn’t presented as anything other than a villain, but he just happened to be a darkly funny villain who we’re rooting for because we know how his story ends. Likewise, the Kanan collection added a lot to my knowledge of the universe, and was still hugely enjoyable despite never having watched an episode of Rebels, Clone Wars or any of the other animated offerings (yet) because of how it expanded on what the various Jedi were faced with when Order 66 was executed.

And that’s not even touching Doctor Aphra, or any of the other dozens of miniseries and collected editions that I’m going to be keeping my eye out for the next time I’m out and about because now I need to know what else I can learn about the events in a galaxy that happened a long time ago.

The comics may not be for everyone, but if you’re a comic reader (and I assume you are if you’re reading this), and a Star Wars fan and you haven’t read these stories, then you owe it to yourself to check out the books being published by Marvel. If you have read them, then I shall gladly listen to the “I told you so” if you want to follow it up with “now read this…”

Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.