Happy Star Wars day from everyone at Newsarama!
George Lucas's galaxy far, far away has had strong comic connections right from the very beginning. The first Star Wars comic launched in 1977, the same year as the original movie. That was a six-issue adaptation of the film we now know as A New Hope, published by Marvel, and was quickly followed by a series of all new adventures for Luke Skywalker and company.
The comics were popular - so popular, in fact, that Marvel's former editor-in-chief, Jim Shooter, claimed that sales of Star Wars titles in '77 and '78 helped keep the company going during a time of rising costs and declining sales. Over the years Marvel, Dark Horse, and Blackthorne Publishing (remember them?) have all published Star Wars titles, each adding to the franchise's vast wealth of collective history and characters - even if many of them have since been rendered non-canon.
So, in celebration of May 4th, we're looking back at ten of the most memorable characters who have either made their debut, or been fully fleshed out, on the comics page. May the force be with you!
10 - Kirak Infil’a
Kirak Infil'a was one of the few Jedi Masters who survived Order 66 - the infamous command which all but wiped out the Jedi. Having previously specialized in combat, Kirak had taken the Barash Vow until he could find a new purpose as a Jedi. This involved separating himself off from the rest of the Order, accidentally making him much harder to find during the Jedi purges. Vader eventually tracks him down, however, leading to a confrontation which, surprisingly, Kirak wins - he sends the bruised and battered Vader tumbling off a cliff face.
It's an undeniably cool moment, but Kirak's assumption that he has destroyed the Dark Lord of the Sith is, of course, incorrect. Vader survives and later returns to take revenge, finally killing him and flooding Am'balaar City in the process. Still, the very fact that Kirak Infil'a managed to initially best Vader in combat proves just how powerful he was.
9 - Ren
Nope, not Kylo Ren - we're talking about the former leader of the Knights of Ren. Created by Charles Soule for the Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren miniseries, Ren is a darkly charismatic force sensitive who opposes both the Jedi and the Sith, but has no moral qualms about using Dark Side powers. He leads the Knights of Ren on various missions, sometimes working alongside Lady Qi'Ra and Crimson Dawn, but eventually allies himself with the First Order's Supreme Leader Snoke in an attempt to lure Ben Solo over to the Dark Side. He succeeds - in a sense. The two fight and young Ben kills Ren before seizing control of the Knights of Ren for himself - ultimately becoming Snoke's tool in the process.
8 - Ochi of Bestoon
Technically this alien Jedi hunter originated on screen - he's briefly spotted in The Rise of Skywalker in flashback, where he's seen murdering Rey's parents. Still, it's only a fleeting glimpse and the comics have done a lot to fill his character out. Ochi was a skilled killer for hire who worked for everyone from Darth Vader (it feels like everyone in the Star Wars galaxy either fights or works for Vader at some point...) and Emperor Palpatine to Lady Qi'ra and Crimson Dawn. Eventually, however, we know that he pledges himself to the reborn Palpatine, leading to both his fateful encounter with Rey's parents and his own eventual demise on Pasaana.
7 - Sana Starros
Sana Starros caused quite a stir when she was introduced in 2015's Star Wars #6. Striding confidently down the ramp of a starship, blaster in hand, she introduces herself to Princess Leia as Sana Solo - Han Solo's first wife. Of course, that turned out to be a ruse - the pair did know each other, having worked a job together, but their "marriage" was simply a cover story. In fact, Sana has more of a romantic history with Doctor Aphra (more on her later), though the two are no longer an item. Still, that hasn't stopped them from working together when a job calls for someone tough, capable and willing to bend the rules for her own perceived greater good.
6 - Tag and Bink
Probably the most unusual characters on this list, Tag and Bink were created by Kevin Rubio for a series of Star Wars parody comics in the 90s. The pair are two hapless Rebel soldiers who bumble their way through the events of the original trilogy, running into everyone from Darth Vader and Boba Fett to Lando Calrissian, accidentally triggering pivotal galactic events along the way.
Although firmly considered to be non-canon characters, the pair almost showed up on screen in Solo: A Star Wars Story, played by writer Jon Kasdan (Tag) and first assistant director Toby Hefferman (Bink). Sadly, while the scene was shot, it was cut from the final theatrical version of the film.
5 - Black Krrsantan
If you watched The Book of Boba Fett then you will be quite familiar with this grizzled Wookiee, but he actually originates in the comics. Krrsantan fled his homeworld of Kashyyyk at a young age becoming first a gladiator and then a feared bounty hunter. It was in this line of work that he ended up taking on jobs for Jabba the Hutt and - briefly - Darth Vader. After the Empire collapsed he fell in with Jabba's cousins, the Twins, who commissioned him to assassinate Boba Fett - at which point he switched sides. Like several of the characters on this list, he was originally created by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca for the Darth Vader comic.
4 - BT-1 and 0-0-0
OK technically you're getting two characters for the price of one here, but like Tag and Bink, this murderous duo almost always come as a pair. Basically an evil twist on R2-D2 and C-3PO, the pair work for rogue archaeologist Doctor Aphra. Triple-Zero is a modified protocol droid, who specializes in torture, while his counterpart, Bee Tee, is a "Blastomech" - an assassin droid that masquerades as a common or garden Astromech. Both hilarious and legitimately terrifying, they're one of the most memorable recent additions to Star Wars canon.
3 - Ulic Qel-Droma
To say that this guy led a storied life is an understatement...
Created by Tom Veitch as one of the main protagonists of the Tales of the Jedi comic, and designed to be a dark mirror of Luke Skywalker, Qel-Droma was born on Alderaan and raised as a Jedi, training under Master Arca Jeth. Despatched to try and resolve the Beast Wars on Onderon, the Jedi initially worked alongside the planet's monarchy, before eventually switching sides when it was revealed that the Royal Family were Dark Siders. When his master was later killed, however, Qel-Droma became consumed with rage and started down a dark road that led to him eventually taking on the mantle of Sith Lord. He committed terrible acts in his times, subjugating the Mandalorian clans, leading an attack on Coruscant, and killing his own brother, Cay Qel-Droma. When his connection to the Force was severed, however, Ulic turned his back on the Sith and would eventually seek a form of redemption by helping the Jedi. He's basically every Star Wars antihero, from Anakin to Ben Solo, in a nutshell.
2 - Jaxxon
Meet the most memorable and the most divisive character in the galaxy far, far away... Jaxxon was created by Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin for Marvel's Star Wars comic way back in 1977, but was often considered a bit of an embarassment by fans because of his quirky look. A Lepi smuggler and a terrific pilot, Jaxxon is basically a big green bunny rabbit - something that's even acknowledged by the name of his starship, the Rabbit's Foot. He had many adventures back in the day, most notably alongside Han Solo. When Disney officially wiped the Star Wars Extended Universe slate clean in 2014, however, he was consigned to the history books - or so it seemed. In fact, in the years since, Jaxxon has developed a firm fan following, while comics writers like Cavan Scott have slowly reintroduced him to the official Star Wars canon.
1 - Dr Aphra
It couldn't really be anyone else in the number one spot... Keiron Gillen, Salvador Larroca, and Heather Antos created morally ambiguous archaeologist Aphra as a human foil for Darth Vader, but she has since taken on an impressive life of her own, graduating to her own solo series in 2017 and inspiring hordes of cosplay outfits along the way. Her solo book has even won a GLAAD Award.
When we first meet her, Chelli Lona Aphra is sarcastic, brilliant - and in a lot of trouble. Impressed with her genius for reprogramming droids, Darth Vader forcibly enlists her into the private forces that he is recruiting in the wake of his demotion by Emperor Palpatine. Aphra enjoys working with Vader but is under no illusions that he will kill her once she has outlived her usefulness.
Still, she's resourceful and has strong sense of self preservation. She manages to escape the Dark Lord (in part by telling on him to Palpatine) and sets out to make a new life doing what she does best: exploring, stealing things and getting into scrapes. Since then she's been imprisoned, romanced an Imperial captain (it didn't go so great) and had numerous misadventures. Cunning and unpredictable, you can never quite tell what Dr Aphra is going to do - and that makes her fascinating.
Eager for more outer space adventures? Here's our pick of the best Star Wars comics of all time.