Star Wars Comics History-Age of the Empire

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.

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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”

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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…


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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.




Star Wars Comics history-Crimson Empire

Crimson Empire is sort of the follow-up to the Dark Empire storyline, but it’s focus is a bit different. Although dealing a bit with the chaos after Palpatine’s “final” death in that series, it also pretty much ignores Luke, Han and co, instead focusing on one of the last members of the Imperial Royal Guard-Kir Kanos- who has discovered that the Emperor’s clone degeneration was the result of the tinkering of a fellow Guardsman-Carnor Jax, who has ambitions to lead the Empire-and also has some limited force ability as well. CE was released as three limited series over the course of a few years. The series also dealt in part with how the Royal guardsmen-who first appeared in “Return of the Jedi” and later would appear in the prequels (Where they beaten pretty badly by Yoda in one scene)-were trained.

The initial one had Jax work with a local Rebel cell, who don’t find out his past until later on, but welcome his assistance as they have a mutual enemy with the Imperial remnant. He also forms a relationship with local commander Mirith Sinn (although her Trandoshan ally Sadeet doesn’t trust him).

Kanos and Carnor Jax then have one final battle on the planet of Yinchorr, where the royal guard were trained. He kills Jax, but also Sadeet when he tries to stop the execution of who he felt would be a valuable prisoner, with Sinn vowing to avenge her fallen friend.

The next installment, Council of Blood, has Kanos take on the identity of Kenix Kil, a bounty hunter, and works for a Hutt while trying to get to the Imperial ruling council, of whom one of the members-Feena D’Asta-is a clone, with the original D’asta imprisoned by the Hutt.

He also runs into Sinn again, and saves her as well, beginning a sort of romance. The whole thing is a conspiracy of sorts to weaken the Empire by an alien species; the Yuzzhan Vong, who are manipulating things behind the scenes-specifically, their advance agent Nom Anor. Both Anor and his species will face the New Republic on a much wider scale in the later New Jedi Order book series. Eventually the council is defeated by the new Republic, and it’s leader executed by Kanos.

However, Kanos still has one more enemy who he feels is responsible for the death of the Emperor: Luke Skywalker, of course, and Crimson Empire III brings Kanos into the orbit of Luke, Han and Leia, as well as Boba Fett.

However, it turns out his relationship with Sinn, and his growing disillusionment with the Empire, has caused Kanos to rethink things, and he teams up with Luke and the New Republic to take on a rogue Imperial faction, who are trying to damage a possible Imperial/Republic treaty (By this point in time, apart from some hangers-on many factions of the Empire were kind of more moderate than in the days of the Emperor and Vader-for example, Admiral Palleon-Thrawn’s second in command in the Thrawn trilogy-who would eventually become a ‘good guy’ of sorts by forming a lasting peace a few years later.)

At the end of the series, Kanos is presumed dead, but actually survived and starts a new life, discarding his guard robes. However, any possibility of a future sequel is kind of out of the way now, as the year CEIII was published (2012), Star Wars was sold to Disney who in 2014 largely dropped the previous novels/comics/games’s “canon”, or continuity to build their own. (with a few exceptions). Although a few elements of the old Expanded Universe have been reworked into the new stuff, so perhaps we’ll see Kir Kanos again one day…