How I got hooked on Star Wars comic books?

What follows below my missive is a Star Wars (SW) comics I've read, am reading, or am looking forward to reading. It should be fairly self explanatory. This missive is about why I'm reading them in the first place.


Why did Anakin Skywalker become Darth Vader (and could you have done other wise)?

We all know what happens to Anakin Skywalker during the SW movies. But what exactly is it that compels him to betray everything he has been taught up to that point and just "let go" and switch over loyalties in such a spectacular manner. Was one life (Padme) enough to justify the killing of almost all of the Jedi children? Was his fear about being blamed for Windu's death set off a suicidal idealisation? Or did realise that Palpatine/Sidious could only be defeated by understanding the dark side completely (a hubris not uncommon in overachievers)? Did he foresee ruling the Empire someday with a new Sith apprentice, perhaps even his son? The story in the Return of the Jedi is not the end of Palpatine. Death and agitations for Palpatine's power after he finally perished were not uncommon (yes, Luke Skywalker also became Palpatine's apprentice and it was only through Leia that he was able to save himself)? After all this, was Vader able to see benevolent imperial empire (led by those serving the light side of the Force)?

These are the questions I pondered as I read the Star Wars comic books. I had no idea that the Star Wars expanded universe (SWEU/EU) was so complex. What happens to Luke Skywalker? How about Leia and Han? And their children and grandchildren? Who is Mara Jade and how does she go from the dark side to the light side? How do all the others for that matter? And how come Cade Skywalker seems to be the only one who is "strong with the force" but rejects all power, including his heritage, that make him perhaps the most ideal jedi and therefore capable of destroying a threat greater than Sidious/Vader combined, which is a (mostly) completely unified Sith Order? And maybe this is already explored somewhere, but how/when does Anakin Skywalker learn how to immortalise himself as Yoda and Obi Wan do? What're Qui Gon and the other Jedis who are immortalised like this doing anyway? This center of consciousness may actually be central to our existences as a matter of faith.

Perhaps the most important questions explored in the EU is why (not how) does Anakin Skywalker become Darth Vader. Surely he had a lot of good in him and, yes, he felt betrayed by Obi Wan Kenobe. Yet to then accept Palpatine/Sidious as his master without much reflection and then committing great atrocities as Darth Vader seems really hard to believe from watching the movies alone. It is to figure this out that I started reading more and then realised quickly that the theme has always been about Darth Vader training his own apprentice and ruling the Empire according to his vision.

Anakin Skywalker always had this dictatorial nature about him that Palpatine exploited in every way possible, including engineering the clone wars and making the Jedi choose sides as generals. Through the comic books, not only do we see Anakin Skywalker easily and repeatedly violate the Jedi code to be judge, jury, and executioner (carrying the burdens of guilts and secrets), we see other Jedi (and mere mortals) forced to make similar choices and battle their own dark sides. In many cases, the dark side wins (illustrating on a richer level why Anakin Skywalker was unable to resist its lure) but a few are able to have the abyss look into them and come out stronger (illustrating how he might have, had it been the will of the force).


The list

Images of the timelines from the comic books are given here to give you an idea of where the stories are set at. The Star Wars calendar begins with the first Star Wars movie (or Episode IV: A New Hope aka SW4 and more precisely the Battle of Yavin that takes place at the end of the movie. The time are obviously approximate but there are geeks out there who will argue times to the month. I am not one of them.

Besides the timeline in the image above, I also follow two other timelines (v2.0 and v2.1) based on how Dark Horse Comics sells their comic books which are based on more general classifications. Further, while any Star Wars geek could figure all this out but if your only exposure is to the films, then searching the Web will get you more info than you probably ever want. I do have a preference for Wookiepedia. There's no need to be intimidated---the stories are all self contained and are about characters with a rich mythology than in the movies (which is also an ambitious father/son story).

0   == SW4 == Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope (SW4) == Battle of Yavin (BoY).
M   == multiple timelines; ? = unknown timelines.

25+       | chewbacca/v2000                           ! | 1-4
1+        | chewbacca/v2015                           ! | 1-5

0+        | classic                                     | 1-20; devil's world 1-2; the early adventures 1-9; the_vandelhelm_mission
0+        | classic/at_stars_end                      ! | 1-3

19-       | dark_times                                ! | 1-17
19-       | dark_times/a_spark_remains                ! | 1-5
19-       | dark_times/fire_carrier                   ! | 1-4
19-       | dark_times/out_of_the_wilderness          ! | 1-5

33-       | darth/maul                                ! | 1-4
22-       | darth/maul/son_of_dathomir                ! | 1-4

M         | darth/vader/annual                        ! | 2016
19-       | darth/vader/cry_of_shadows                ! | 1-5
0         | darth/vader/down                          ! | 1
M         | darth/vader/etc                           ! | goodnight
19-       | darth/vader/ghost_prison                  ! | 1-5
19-       | darth/vader/lost_command                  ! | 1-5
19-       | darth/vader/ninth_assassin                ! | 1-5
0         | darth/vader/quest                         ! | 1-4
0         | darth/vader/v1                            = | 1-15

0         | doctor_aphra/v1                           = | 1-3

M         | etc/fbcd                                  = | 2002,2005-2006,2015

22-       | fetts/blood_ties                          ! | 1-8
0-5       | fetts/boba/enemy_of_the_empire            ! | 1-5
M         | fetts/boba/etc                            ! | agent_of_doom; death_lies_treachery; man_with_a_mission; open_seasons; overkill; salvage; twin_engines_of_destruction
M         | fetts/jango/etc                           ! | jango_fett
56-       | fetts/jango/open_seasons                  ! | 1-4

4         | jabba                                     ! | art_of_the_deal; betrayal; dynasty_trap; gaar_suppoon_hit; hunger_of_princess_nampi; jabba_tape

33-       | jedi/council/acts_of_war                  ! | 1-4
53-       | jedi/dark_side                            ! | 1-5
36453-    | jedi/dawn/force_storm                     ! | 0-5
36453-    | jedi/dawn/force_war                       ! | 1-5
36453-    | jedi/dawn/prisoner_of_bogan               ! | 1-4
0         | jedi/kanan                                = | 1-11
22        | jedi/obi_wan_anakin                       ! | 1-5
22-20     | jedi/people                               ! | aayla_secura; count_dooku; mace windu; shaak_ti; yoda
28-       | jedi/quest                                ! | 1-4
37-       | jedi/qui_gon_obi_wan/autoorient_express   ! | 1-2
37-       | jedi/qui_gon_obi_wan/last_stand_ord_mantel! | 1-3
5000-3986 | jedi/tales/golden_age_of_the_sith         ! | 0-5
5000-3986 | jedi/tales/dark_lords_of_the_sith         ! | 1-6
5000-3986 | jedi/tales                                  | redemption 1-5; the_fall_of_the_sith_empire 1-5; the_freedon_nadd_uprising 1-2; the_sith_wars 1-5
1000-     | jedi/vs_sith                              ! | 1-6

19-       | lando/v2015                               ! | 1-5

140+      | legacy/v1                                 ! | 0-50; 0. 5
140+      | legacy/v2                                 ! | 1-18
140+      | legacy/war                                ! | 1-6

6+        | shattered_empire                          ! | 1-4

3964-     | knights_of_the_old_republic                 | 0-50
3632-     | the_old_republic                            | main 1-6; the_lost_suns 1-5; blood_of_the_empire 1-3; threat_of_peace 1-3
1032-     | knight_errant                               | preview 0; aflame 1-5; deluge 1-5; escape 1-5

32-       | movies/1_the_phantom_menace                 | 0-1; adventures 1-4
22-       | movies/2_attack_of_the_clones               | 1
19-       | movies/3_revenge_of_the_sith                | 1
0         | movies/4_a_new_hope                         | contemporary_motivators; special_edition; storybook; toyopop
3         | movies/5_the_empire_strikes_back            | special_edition; toykopop
4         | movies/6_return_of_the_jedi                 | special_edition; tokyopop
45        | movies/7_the_force_awakens                  | 1-6

0+        | solo/han                                  ! | 1-5

32-0      | star_wars/republic                          | 1-83; heart_of_fire
24-       | starfighter                                 | crossbones 1-3
23-       | zam_wesell                                  | 1-4
22-       | clone_wars                                  | 1-9
22-       | clone_wars_adventures                       | 1-10
22-       | hasbro                                      | most_precious_weapon 1-4
22-       | the_clone_wars                              | free; 1-12; volume 1-6
22-       | the_clone_wars_webcomic                     | 1-26
20-       | general_grievous                            | 1-4
20-       | obsession                                   | 1-5

19-       | hyperspace                                  | a_hunters_fate; darth_vader_strikes; evasive_action 1-3; podracing_tales; rookies 1-2; wookie_world
19-       | purge                                       | 1; seconds_to_die; the_hidden_blade; the_tyrants_fist 1-2
5-10      | droids                                      | 1-6; rebellion 1-4; season_of_revolt 1-4; the_protocol_offensive
3-        | agent_of_the_empire                         | iron_eclipse 1-5; hard_targets 1-5
2-        | the_force_unleashed                         | 1-2
0-        | underworld                                  | 1-5
0         | jawa_force                                  | 1-5
0         | empire                                      | 1-40; tpb 4-5
0         | rebellion                                   | 0-16
0+        | marvel                                      | classic 1-3; droids 1-8; ewoks 1-; illustrated 1-4; omnibus 1-5; return_of_the_jedi 1-4

0+        | 3d                                        ! | 1-3
0+        | annual                                    ! | 1979,1982-1983,1999,2016
0+        | droids/etc                                ! | c-3po; kellog; special
M         | etc                                       ! | adventures_beggars_canyon; another_universe_exclusive; sergio_aragones_stomps; tales_from_mos_eisley; vaders_little_princess; valentine_story; visionaries
0+        | leia/princess                             ! | 1-5
0+        | rebel_heist                               ! | 1-4
0+        | river_of_chaos                            ! | 1-4
0+        | the                                       ! | 0-8
0+        | v1                                        ! | 1-107
0+        | v2                                        ! | 1-20
0+        | v3                                        = | 1-19

0+        | strip                                       | 1-16
0+        | splinter_of_the_minds_eye                   | 1
0+        | tag_and_bink                                | are_dead 1-2; vol2 1-2
3         | shadow_stalker                              | 1
3+        | shadows_of_the_empire                       | 1
4         | shadows_of_the_empire/evolution             | 1
4         | mara_jade/by_the_emperors_hand              | 1
4+        | x-wing_rogue_squadron                       | 1-35; handbook; kellog; rogue_leader 1-3
9+        | the_thrawn_trilogy                          | 1-3
10+       | dark_empire                                 | 1-2
11        | empires_end                                 | 1-2
11+       | crimson_empire                              | 1-3; hard_currency
13+       | jedi_academy                                | leviathan 1
20+       | union                                       | 1-4
25+       | invasion                                    | 0-12; revelations 1-5

M         | adventures                                  | 1-4
M         | bounty_hunters                              | aurra_sing |32-|; kenix kil |11|; scoundrels_wages |3.5|; the_battle_of |3.5|; twin_engines_of_destruction |5+|
M         | handbook                                    | crimson_empire; dark_empire; knights_of_the_old_republic
M         | infinities                                  | a_new_hope; the_empire_strikes_back; return_of_the_jedi
M         | tales                                       | 1-25
M         | vector                                      | 1


1-        | etc/this_crumb_for_hire                     | 1
0         | etc/lego                                    | 1
0+        | etc/dark_forces                             | 1
0+        | etc/soulcalibur_visions_of_the_blade        | 1
0+        | etc/the_constancia_affair                   | 1
M         | manga                                       | movies 1,4-6; perfect_evil
M         | etc/etc                                     | cross_sections/dictionary/essentials/gamer/insider/magazines/maps
M         | etc/the_films_and_the_galaxy_beyond         | 1


My vision

I will expound on this section a LOT down the road.

My view is that in the end, even though the Jedi are a force for the good, in the case of the Force, the "balance" between good and bad means that both must exist in equilibrium. You could have a bland universe with little good (represented by the Jedi) and bad (represented by the Sith), or you could have a LOT of Jedi and Sith all fighting each other, or whatever point you wish to have a universe in "balance", but for the sake of our fiction, it always should be tilted towards the Jedi after they drop their sense of entitlement. My own theory is that it's this pride that causes the downfall of everyone, even Yoda and Obi Wan).

The story of the Star Wars movies is that of Anakin Skywalker mainly, how he goes from being a slave boy to becoming one of the greatest Jedis to one of the greatest Sith lords (yes, even has a space reserved for him in the tomb of the great Siths), from greatness to free fall to finally, redemption. This theme is carried on throughout the comics in different ways. While this is almost always done well, I still prefer the visual science fiction. I'd rather learn about how a light saber is built or the AI of droids rather than Anakin whining about Obi Wan's reasonable curfew. (That should answer the question of whether I'd have handled the responsibility of Mace Windu's death differently.)


Comic ramblings || Pseudointellectual ramblings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org