The Star Wars universe is vast. And while there are a lot of stories that are part of Star Wars canon, even some of the non-canon stories become big influences on the direction of canon stories. The Clone Wars is a great example, where moments and characters that may be alluded to in canon stories can then be explored further through an array of non-canon stories. Several comic book series’ helped build the Clone Wars canon and bring the universe to life.
The original Star Wars film trilogy references the galaxy-wide conflict fought a generation before known as the Clone Wars. After decades of fan speculation, the Star Wars prequels started providing answers. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones revealed the beginning of the war and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith brought us its end. Since then, the three-year struggle between the waning Galactic Republic and the upstart Confederacy of Independent systems has become a familiar part of Star Wars history. It is almost as iconic as the original trilogy’s rebellion against the Galactic Empire.
The Republic Comic Series
The most popular and famous Clone Wars stories – other than Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith – are those of the hit 2008-2014 TV show Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The show had the advantage of being part of the current Star Wars canon. There are plenty of non-canon stories out there that are still worth checking out, like the Republic comic book series. Dark Horse Comics published the comic from 1998 to 2006 and it influenced the TV show and introduced characters and ideas it would later adopt. If you’re a fan of the show, you might want to check out these comics, since the roots of the show are here.
Early arcs in the comic series fleshed out background characters from the films, from Jedi Ki-Adi-Mundi and Adi Gallia to bounty hunter Aurra Sing. The series showed Ki-Adi-Mundi as a family man and a lover of nature. Aurra Sing later became a recurring villain in the show who immediately established herself as ruthless and almost impossible to catch. The series alternated between the adventures of the Jedi from the films (mainly written by Timothy Truman) and those of new characters (mainly written by John Ostrander).
Quinlan and Aayla
Amnesiac Jedi Quinlan Vos and his Padawan Aayla Secura were the breakout stars of the series. It pitted Quinlan and Aayla against some truly creepy villains, and their struggles gave the series an edge. These early stories made heavy use of the galaxy’s criminal underworld. They also explored the culture of Aayla’s people, the Twi’leks. It also introduces A’Sharad Hett, a human Jedi raised among the Sand People of Tatooine.
Quinlan and Aayla quickly became so popular with readers that they started showing up in other stories, and even the films. The Phantom Menace reveals Quinlan as a background character. It also mentions Quinlan by name in Revenge of the Sith. Aayla makes cameo appearances in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Aayla later played a significant role in The Clone Wars on TV, appearing in ten episodes. Quinlan appeared in the series as well.
From 2002 to 2005, Republic, along with occasional affiliated one-shots and miniseries, chronicled the war effort between films roughly in real time. Quinlan Vos carried out suspense-filled intelligence operations and struggled with the pull of the Dark Side. Since he wasn’t a major character outside of this series, there was some real tension over his fate. His infiltration of the Confederacy’s inner circle forced him closer and closer to outright evil.
Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and other Jedi from the films fought on the front lines of the conflict. They defended familiar locations like Kamino and attempted to push the Separatists out of new planets like Jabiim. Aayla Secura, now a movie character and no longer a Padawan, moved to this part of the series.
Republic was the first series to apply long-form storytelling to the war. It took psychological and physical tolls on the Jedi. They had to deal with biological weapons and an enemy that sometimes had freakishly good intelligence. The Republic’s own Chancellor, secretly controlling both sides, ironically supplied this intelligence to the Confederacy. They also dealt with the moral ambiguity of “liberating” planets that preferred Confederate rule. To make matters worse, Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress and nigh-indestructible bounty hunter Durge terrorized the Republic. Ventress was yet another breakout character, becoming a TV show staple.
The Enemy Lines comic
The Enemy Lines comic book contains some of the strongest stories in the series. The comics forced Anakin Skywalker and A’Sharad Hett to work together. Anakin hated the Sand People so this pair up led to some friction. Armor, a continuity-loving done-in-one comic, introduced the Phase II armor. This armor was worn by Clone Troopers in both Revenge of the Sith and the TV show. It also tied the story to the Knights of the Old Republic video games and Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy novels. In Dreadnaughts of Rendili, Quinlan Vos teams up with Obi-Wan Kenobi. In this one, Anakin Skywalker got his famous facial scar while battling Asajj Ventress.
The climactic arcs of the Enemy Lines are in The Siege of Saleucami and Hidden Enemy. Quinlan Vos’s journey concludes dramatically, which satisfies fans. Haden Blackman’s Obsession miniseries concluded Anakin and Obi-Wan’s plot lines from the series and prepared them for Revenge of the Sith.
Republic majorly impacted later Star Wars comics, particularly Dark Times, Empire, Rebellion, and Legacy. Events on the planet Jabiim in Republic led directly to events on Jabiim in Empire and Rebellion. Long-lived characters from Republic made some surprising and welcome return appearances in Legacy.
Where Are These Comics Available?
The series has been reprinted several times. The most convenient way to read it is in Dark Horse’s Omnibus editions. Marvel Comics is also reprinting Dark Horse’s Star Wars comics in Epic Collections. So far there are only two prequel-era Epic Collections. These include Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: Rise of the Sith Volume 1 which contains miniseries’ and one-shots and Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Clone Wars Volume 1, which will be released in Jan, 2017.