Star Wars

Crimson Empire – Kir Kanos was once a royal bodyguard, but now he’s the most wanted man in the galaxy. Can he maintain his integrity and his life? This opening volume of a triolgy isn’t quite matched by its sequels, but stands well alone. Mike Richardson, Randy Stradley, Paul Gulacy and Dark Horse.

Dark Times: A Spark Remains – This was a slow burner of a series set approximately twenty years before A New Hope, but one where both writer and artist learned on the job, eventually producing a spectacular finale. Randy Stradley, Douglas Wheatley and Dark Horse.

Darth Vader: Shadows and Secrets – Brilliant plot twists and satisfying elements added to Vader’s character as he has to track down some crimelords, avoid the machinations of supposed allies and  build his army of droids. Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larroca and Marvel.

Dawn of the Jedi: Prisoner of Bogan – Mid-section of a compact trilogy, the heart is whether a superbly trained manipulator of the Force can turn away from the dark side. Hugely enjoyable character-based drama.  Jan Duursema, John Ostrander, and Dark Horse.

Lando – The charismatic Lando Calrissian is finding life hard as a pirate and smuggler in the Empire era, and this caper story has all the charm and tenderness of the rogue himself. A comfortable familiarity right from the start. Charles Soule, Alex Maleev and Marvel.

Legacy: Claws of the Dragon – We have expectations of someone named Skywalker, but Cade Skywalker defies them. This simple twist is at the heart of a clever series set 125 years after Return of the Jedi. Well plotted and drawn by Jan Duursema, John Ostrander, and Dark Horse.

Mara Jade: By the Emperor’s Hand – Having failed to kill Luke Skywalker the Emperor’s assassin instead targets a crimelord who proves wilier than anticipated. A dense and unpredictable caper plot with plenty of surprises. Michael A. StackpoleTimothy Zahn, Carlos Ezquerra and Dark Horse.

Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon – Marvel’s second attempt at the Skywalker era has been triumphant from the start. Wonderfully drawn and pulling off the neat trick of sustaining tension despite us knowing the cast survive. Jason Aaron, Simone Bianchi, Stuart Immonen and Marvel.

Vader Down – If there’s a single essential story since Marvel renewed the Star Wars franchise, it’s this gem. Comedy, tension, plot and counter-plot. “Any fan of the franchise who doesn’t pick it up earns a place on Mr T’s Foo List”. Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen, Mike Deodato, Salvador Larroca and Marvel.

Vector volume 2 – Forget the sub-par opening volume and revel in this conclusion, set both in the Luke Skywalker era and that of his descendent Cade. Surprise is laid upon surprise as the script twists away from expectation. Jan Duursema, John Ostrander, Rob Williams, Dustin Weaver and Dark Horse