Star Wars Dark Forces-or alternatively, Jedi Knight-was a series of action games published by Lucasarts in the mid-to-late 2000’s, spanning 4 games (and some expansions as well). The series mainly dealt with ex-stormtrooper turned Mercenary Kyle Katarn, who soon discovers he is force sensitive and becomes a Jedi Knight. Like pretty much every Jedi ever, he has a bit of a dark side fall (and fortunately gets redeemed with the help of Luke Skywalker’s future wife, Mara Jade) and briefly abandons the Jedi lifestyle, until he’s ultimately called back to the life of the Jedi and permanently becomes part of Luke’s new order.
There were also adaptations. These aren’t necessarily comics per se, more like novels with a series of illustrations. Dean Williams drew the first one, Ezra Bridger the second, with frequent Star Wars cover artist Dave Dorman doing the final novel. They’re also published by Dark Horse so I’m putting them in this category. The graphic novels use the likenesses of the characters from Jedi Knight’s live-action cutscenes.
The first book deals with Kyle’s backstory. Turns out he’s a Stormtrooper, but his father, a simple father, is force sensitive although not a Jedi (In a way he’s somewhat similar to Chirrut from Rogue One, but with far less fighting ability!) He also knows the location of a hidden valley and is friends with a surviving Jedi Knight. He’s eventually killed by a Dark Jedi-Jerec-and Kyle, after learning the truth, becomes a mercenary and works with Rebel alliance operative Jan Ors to steal the Death Star plans, the first level of the game.
The novels skip over the rest of the Dark Forces game-which has Kyle going up against a new form of Droid stormtrooper known as the Darktrooper-and instead jumps into the story-line of the Jedi Knight game. Like “Force Awakens” this story at first revolves around a map-to the Valley of the Jedi, the last ancient battleground between the Jedi and the Sith. This would be weaved into Star Wars lore later on, with it pretty much being used as a n explanation for why the Jedi think the Sith are extinct in the Prequels….and also the place from where Darth Bane-who rebuilds the order under the “rule of two”-began his own order. Kyle is in a race against time to keep a group of Imperial Dark Jedi-led by Jerec-from harnessing the Valley’s power.
The adaptation is split into two, with “Rebel Agent” and “Jedi Knight”. The story of course embellishes the plot, giving more backstory to the various Dark Jedi as well as additional scenes. There’s also more of a romance between Kyle and Jan, which wasn’t really present in the game (although it appears in the sequel Jedi Outcast).
Dark Forces’s influence on the comics did not end there. The anthology series Star Wars tales features two Dark Forces related stories. The first sort of makes up for the novels not covering the main plot of Dark Forces, the Darktrooper project. Here we’re given another view of the Darktrooper attack that propels the game’s storyline, and then a Darktrooper gives some grief to a swoop gang on Tatooine.
Much later on, another Tales story featured Kyle and Jan going up against the Yuzzhan Vong, the bad guys from the “New Jedi Order” series (If you’re wondering about the stormtroopers, the “New Jedi Order” takes place in an era where there is peace with what’s left of the Empire)
When Hasbro decided to bring back “Expanded Universe” characters into their figure line, and also pack in comics with them, Kyle and the very muscular Vongs from the story were put into action figure form.