George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away has been Marvel’s premiere cash-bantha since Disney synergy brought the Star Wars license under the purview of the comic publisher in 2015. The core Star Wars title has clung to a top-20 sales spot without fail, and even books like Doctor Aphra, a Darth Vader spin-off featuring a character who has never appeared on film or television, outsells most monthly Marvel superhero series. With the release of Solo: a Star WarsStory in theaters this week, the resident Paste Comics Jedi historians read and re-read every single Star Wars comic released by Marvel Comics in the modern era to compile an updated definitive ranking.
For the purpose of this list, we counted annuals and crossovers Vader Down (excellent) and Screaming Citadel (not so excellent) as parts of their components series, and one-shots as their own entries. Spoiler alert: the House of Ideas is still doing pretty damn well by this side of the Disney empire.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Adaptation,Star Wars: Rogue One Adaptation & Star Wars: The Last Jedi Adaptation
Writers: Chuck Wendig, Jody Hauser, Gary Whitta
Artists: Luke Ross, Oscar Bazaldua, Emilio Laiso, Michael Walsh
With Star Wars: The Last Jedi Adaptation just two issues into its six-issue run, we considered separating these entries, but our criticisms are the same: none of Marvel’s direct film adaptations build on their source material, and in the absence of any truly bad Star Wars comics, that drops them all into a tie for last place. Writers Chuck Wendig (The Force Awakens), Jody Hauser (Rogue One) and Gary Whitta (The Last Jedi) maintain their respective films’ big beats, but The Force Awakens and Rogue One fail to match the compulsive pacing of their respective movies, and The Last Jedi so far does nothing to smooth over its film’s rough parts. The transcribed dialogue also falls flat without the charisma of actors like Oscar Isaac, Donnie Yen and Kelly Marie Tran. Rogue One Adaptation’s Oscar Bazaldua and Emilio Laiso turn in visually appealing work, but neither they nor The Force Awakens Adaptation’s Luke Ross come close to matching the visual splendor of the newest films. The Last Jedi’s Michael Walsh was an inspired choice, but his distinctive skills are poorly utilized trying to capture actor likenesses and fit too much plot into too little space. Dark Horse’s adaptations of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith offered fans a chance to see frequent Star Wars artists Jan Duursema and Doug Wheatley adapt the films—and offered a welcome respite from some truly awful line delivery—but Marvel’s first three film adaptations do little to justify their existence. Steve Foxe