Dark Horse Comics and Star Wars: A Personal Retrospective

“Our goal was to create sequels and prequels to the films we loved, paying careful attention to quality and detail, essentially treating those films as though they were our own.” – Dark Horse founder and publisher Mike Richardson.

Cover to Dark Empire, the first original Star Wars story from Dark Horse Comics

Dark Horse Comics just released the last of their Star Wars comic line with Legacy II #18 and after sharing my thoughts on the importance of Dark Horse Comics’ work in the Star Wars Universe with Mike Moore over at Coffee With Kenobi, I was inspired to take a moment aside from Star Wars Rebels and write up a retrospective on what their stories have meant to me.

The final Star Wars comic released by Dark Horse Comics

The history

Putting things into perspective, Dark Horse began their Star Wars run a month and a half before I was born with Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy’s Dark Empire. They have had nearly 23 years of stories and created an in-universe history expanding from 5000 years before A New Hope to 140 years after Return of the Jedi with many fascinating characters, stories, and relationships.

Countless characters that came to life in the pages of a comic have now gone on to become key players in the Star Wars Saga including Asajj Ventress, Aayla Secura and Quinlan Vos. Stories created by the incredible array of talented writers, editors, and artists have had profound influences on the constantly expanding universe. From the earliest days of the Old Republic, to the darkest days of the One Sith, Dark Horse Star Wars stories have always pushed the limit of our imaginations and what we can expect from the galaxy.

images_starwarsThe creators

What first drew me to Dark Horse comics was the art. The Star Wars galaxy looks gorgeous and the best way to experience it is by seeing the lightsabers, creatures, and new and exciting worlds. Star Wars stories translate beautifully to the pages of a comic as the galaxy originally created for the silver screen is filled with many stunning and awe-inspiring visuals.

It was only after I was finished admiring pencils by Jan Duursema or Brian Ching and vivid colours by Brad Anderson did I start to become engaged and invested in the stories written by the likes of John Ostrander, Randy Stradley, and John Jackson Miller.

The movies were what got me hooked to the galaxy far far away but exploring the worlds further within the pages of the graphic novels only strengthened my passion. I didn’t have a TV or computer to distract me growing up so my local library and their collection of Star Wars comics was my way to explore the Galaxy Far Far Away and the Dark Horse stories ended up having a greater impact on me than the Star Wars films themselves.

The stories

Tales of the Jedi 3: The Saga of Nomi Sunrider, Part 1

The earliest Dark Horse Star Wars comic I recall reading was Tales of the Jedi: The Saga of Nomi Sunrider as I distinctly remember a panel that had the Force Ghost of Jedi Knight Andur Sunrider guiding Nomi. It was as if Andur was also guiding me deeper into the pages of the stories leaving me clamouring for more.

Later on, I would discover John Ostrander and Jan Duursema’s Quinlan Vos. First introduced in Jedi Twilight, this troubled Jedi had a dark past that would be explored over many many issues. Quinlan Vos was able to have stories concurrent to the prequels without interfering with anything being introduced in the movies. The art blew me away and he was such a fascinating character surrounded by so many unique individuals and events that felt fresh and exciting while taking place in the familiar prequel era.

Ostrander and Duursema would later move on to create the Legacy series and the reveal that Darth Krayt was A’Sharad Hett was just as shocking if not more to me than The Empire Strikes Back “I am your father” moment. What makes that reveal great was the fact that they used a character introduced in earlier issues of Dark Horse comics and one you would have never guessed would return. It was a treat for fans of their stories.

Darth Krayt revealing his true identity

It has taken me many years but I have finally managed to collect every published Star Wars Omnibus collection and nearly every volume of Dark Horse Star Wars series. So many emotions come back to me every time I open the page to one I read growing up.

The future

Dark Horse Comics wasn’t scared to shy away from the safe and reliable original trilogy era and would introduce new characters, eras, battles, and locals we have never experienced before. Tales of the Jedi completely broke every mold by portraying an ancient Star Wars galaxy with weapons and worlds we have never seen. Jedi vs. Sith was a gamble with unique art style that paid off and would inspire the incredibly successful Darth Bane novel trilogy. Legacy went beyond any era we have ever experienced and dangerously killed off nearly every character we knew in the original trilogy by introducing a new Empire, Sith, and Skywalker that had such gripping story lines with no way to know what could be next for the galaxy.

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A panel from the final issue of Legacy II

I will admit I am underwhelmed with what Marvel has announced for the near-future, but with so much more content to come I am sure exploring any other eras in Star Wars lore except for the original trilogy era is off-limits until the movies start to open more doors. 

Marvel Worldwide Inc. will have their work cut out for them as Star Wars fans have come to expect an incredible high standard for stories that explore our favourite galaxy far far away. The Dark Horse Star Wars stories will go down in history as the legends they are. 

Marvel, you have massive shoes to fill. 


Author: Andy Ury

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