While it was currently running the prequel-era “Republic” comics, Dark Horse also began a second monthly, featuring events during the Original trilogy era.
The series started with the Betrayal arc, in which a series of Grand Moffs-who don’t like being ruled by two Sith Lords-try to organize a coup against the Emperor and Vader. Of course, it doesn’t quite go well.
The arc also introduced-and quickly got rid of-Grand Moff Tractha, who like Vader has Cybernetic replacements; however, he later showed up in the “early Empire” story Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison, and even got a Hasbro figure.
After a brief interlude with Princess Leia (“Princess, Warrior”) taking place slightly before “A New Hope”, and a Boba Fett issue by the team who wrote his one-shots “trilogy”, we’re given the second major arc with “Darklighter”.
The comics largely detailed the backstory of Biggs Darklighter, an old friend of Luke’s, who dies on the Death Star trench run.
A lot of Bigg’s role and backstory in the movie was deleted (although one scene was restored for the special edition). In older cuts, Luke actually appears far earlier in the movie, spotting the space battle overhead and running to tell his friends, including Biggs who is on leave from the Imperial academy. The two get to have a talk, in which Biggs confides in him that he’s joining the Rebellion.
The comic builds heavily on not only this, but also Bigg’s short career as a TIE fighter pilot, with the artistic choice to make the helmet translucent to better show the emotions of the characters. The issues with the Darklighter aren’t actually sequential (perhaps due to the time needed to finish the detailed art) and were broken up between standalones.
After two more standalones-one featuring a Stormtrooper on the Death Star, and another revealing what happened to Vader after his TIE went out of control at the end of the film, we get another new arc after the Darklighter issues finally finish.
The next arc deals with an Imperial batallion dealing with a large group of hostile, flatworm-like “Anamamen”
Represented in the films by this kin of creepy guy.
They’re led by Janek Sunber, whose story also ties into Luke and Biggs…
After this arc ends we get a short interlude with Vader targeted by the Faleen, an alien species who’s homeworld was messed up by Vader (This also ties into the Shadows of the Empire storyline).
What follows are a few adventures with Han, Leia, and Chewbacca, one in particular introducing the character Deena Shan, who plays a significant role in the final arc of the series.
The next major arc-after a Boba Fett standalone and a two issue-story where Luke recruits a former Clone trooper into the alliance-we get “In the Shadows of their Fathers”. This is a sequel to the “Battle of Jaabim” arc, with the Jaabim rebels not being too pleased with how things went down during the Clone Wars, where another man by the name of Skywalker abandoned them. It’s got some pretty cool covers…
It ends with Luke leaving the planet, but somewhat unsettled by what he’s learned, that his father might not have been the great hero he thought he was, and that Obi-Wan was ‘killed’ on the planet. He wonders what Ben was keeping from him…
The final arc is “Wrong Side of the War”, where Luke, Deena, and other rebels go undercover in Imperial outfits as part of a rebel infiltration and strike force. However, things don’t go quite smoothly. Deena falls in love with an Imperial officer during the mission, and Janek Sunber shows up, and recognizes Luke. We learn that Janek is in fact, Luke’s old buddy “Tank”-mentioned in Star Wars as having left like Biggs did to join the Empire, but unlike Biggs, he didn’t join the rebels….he recognizes Luke, but only as his old friend, who he’s convinced also joined the Empire, not knowing that Luke is a rebel hero. Of course, Luke’s true allegiance is finally figured out-but Sunber is reluctant to join the alliance, as he believes in the Order of the Empire.
The storyline continues in the sequel series “Star Wars Rebellion”, which I will cover in the next article.