Unquestionably one of the most iconic Star Wars characters, Darth Vader has some of the best stories in the series even in the comic book space. It might not be the primary medium fans will think to look into the villain considering how strong the franchise's presence is on screen.

However, both Marvel and Dark Horse Comics have published fantastic stories to flesh out Darth Vader's character. The Disney acquisition reshuffled what stories were accepted into the mainline canon, mostly confining the latter's comics to Legends continuity. Even so, one-shots like Purge and mainline canon tales like Dark Heart of the Sith tastefully expand on Darth Vader's mythos.

Updated on October 13, 2023, by Guillermo Kurten: Darth Vader is one of the iconic faces of the Star Wars franchise across mediums, so it's no wonder that there is a treasure trove's worth of excellent comic book material focused on him. The comics — mainline canon and Legends alike — are excellent places to see the Sith Lord's darkly complex character fleshed out off-screen. With such an impressive backlog of comic book material, this list has been updated to include more of the villain's greatest stories.

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15 Obi-Wan & Anakin

Obi-Wan Kenobi wearing his Jedi robes with Padawan Anakin Skywalker wielding his lightsaber behind him.

Though unconventional as a Vader story, Charles Soule and Marco Checchetto paired up for the prequel-era Obi-Wan & Anakin. This miniseries follows the early days of the duo's partnership between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones.

The bond between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of the greatest and most tragic Star Wars friendships. That alone makes Obi-Wan & Anakin a worthwhile read, filling some contextual gaps between the first two prequel movies and shining a spotlight on one of the franchise's most iconic dynamics. Its place in continuity is justified despite not feeling as essential as other Vader-centric works.

14 "The Shu-Torun War"

Cover art for The Shu-Torun War featuring a collage of Vader and his Imperial forces in the background.

Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca's Darth Vader run is a highlight of the mainline Disney/Marvel canon, including the early storyline "The Shu-Torun War." The arc has the Dark Lord of the Sith sent to the titular planet to lead a military assault against the rebelling natives and install an Empire-backed regime.

One of the most popular aspects of Darth Vader's role in the comics is expanding on his earlier exploits, such as maintaining his Master's dominance across the galaxy. "The Shu-Torun War"plays on that theme well. Even though it's not a grandiose arc with longstanding effects on the rest of the sweeping Star Wars mythos, it's an effective isolated story highlighting the threat of the Empire and Vader's dynamic with Palpatine.

13 "Vector"

Darth Vader uncovering the suspended Celeste Morne from her sarcophogus.

"Vector" isn't squarely a Darth Vader story. It spans the Legends canon from the Old Republic to Legacy eras, but the portion of the arc set during the Empire's reign features Vader in an exciting role. Celeste Morne, a Jedi of the Old Republic, is uncovered and reanimated by the Sith Lord and his Imperials.

"Vector" is an ambitious overall arc to tie together key eras of Star Wars Legends canon in comics. But in regards to Darth Vader specifically, this portion of the arc was a gripping way to connect the iconic villain of the Original Trilogy with an element of the Old Republic. Likewise, it's a tantalizing insight into Vader's secret attempts to overthrow his master.

12 Shadows And Secrets

Darth Vader and Doctor Aphra fighting beside each other in Shadows and Secrets.

Marvel's 2015 Darth Vader run was a consistent success for several reasons, one of which is an interesting new character introduced for the Star Wars mythos. Gillen and Larocca's Shadows and Secrets involves Darth Vader trying to uncover the culprits behind the Death Star's destruction and continue his unlikely alliance with the morally ambiguous Doctor Aphra.

Shadows and Secrets balances an exciting assortment of galactic exploits, combining Larocca's expertly illustrated and kinetic lightsaber action with heist thrillers and political subterfuge. Adding a character like Aphra into the mix made for a surprisingly entertaining dynamic, but Gillen never loses sight of expanding on his analysis of Darth Vader's conflicted mind.

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11 Purge

Darth Vader wielding his lightsaber as he's surrounded by a group of Jedi.

Dark Horse Comics has a catalog of some of the best Star Wars Legends content in the medium, and the Purge one-shot is a thrilling short. Set in the wake of Emperor Palpatine's Order 66 being enacted, Purge follows Darth Vader as he hunts down a band of surviving Jedi to attempt to uncover Obi-Wan Kenobi's location.

John Ostrander, Douglas Wheatley, and Ronda Pattison's one-shot comic masterfully convey why Darth Vader easily ranks among Star Wars' strongest characters in just 32 pages. It portrays the Sith Lord as a galactic grim reaper, capturing in comic book format what makes his presence so imposing on the screen.

10 Betrayal

Darth Vader fighting a group of rogue Stormtroopers in cover art for Betrayal.

Darth Vader in Betrayal helped to jumpstart Dark Horse's Empire series. This Legends storyline revolves around the Sith Lord hunting down a group of Imperials attempting to launch a coup on Emperor Palpatine. It's an enticing premise for a Darth Vader-focused story, depicting the villain having to strike from within his own ranks to snuff out threats.

That's on top of the usual, yet no less exciting, exploits Darth Vader has while fighting straggling Jedi and Rebel troops before A New Hope. Scott Allie, Ryan Benjamin, Curtis Arnold, Michelle Madsen, and Dave Stewart's Betrayal menacingly flexes the character's role as the Emperor's wrath.

9 Purge - The Hidden Blade

Darth Vader wielding his red lightsaber in cover art for Purge - The Hidden Blade.

Purge itself was a one-shot comic, but it was also the first in a series of anthology stories. The Hidden Blade was its third installment. Blackman, Chris Scalf, and Michael Heisler's Purge - The Hidden Blade takes Darth Vader's Jedi-hunting crusade to a remote world where a Padawan and his Master are among the rebelling native forces.

On top of the moody, exceptional artwork, Purge - The Hidden Blade is another gritty chapter in the Sith Lord's early days serving Palpatine. It illustrates the depths of Darth Vader's obsession with eradicating the order he felt betrayed him. What's more, it highlights Vader's weakness in battle with nuance, rather than in the conventional sense.

8 Skywalker Strikes

The classic lineup of Star Wars heroes as TIE Fighters and X-Wings soar in the background.

For longer, more serialized Star Wars storytelling in comics, the flagship Marvel series is a consistently high-quality read. It's not exclusively a Darth Vader series, but it contains some of his best moments in the comic book medium between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.

Spearheaded by Jason Aaron, John Cassady, Stuart Immonen, and Salvador Larroca, the first story arc in this run — Skywalker Strikes — captures the riveting story of how Vader learned Luke was his son. It's a fantastic lore piece to the mainline canon, beautifully setting the stage for what fans see in The Empire Strikes Back.

7 Darth Vader And The Lost Command

Darth Vader raising his fist in cover art for The Lost Command.

Like other Darth Vader storylines in Legends comics, Darth Vader and the Lost Command is one piece of a fantastic Star Wars omnibus collection. Haden Blackman, Rick Leonardi, Dan Green, Michael Heisler, and Wes Dzioba's series depicts the Sith Lord on a rescue mission for an Imperial expeditionary team in the Ghost Nebula.

An Imperial rescue operation is an interesting plot device for a Darth Vader story, and his complex supporting cast help keep the tensions high. Joined by a staunch, yet effective co-commander and the son of his ranking rival Grand Moff Tarkin, Vader's mission in The Lost Command has satisfying action and dramatic implications.

6 Purge - The Tyrant's Fist

Darth Vader with lightsaber in hand as he fights off an attempted rebellion.

Following The Hidden Blade in this terrific anthology series are Alexander Freed, Marco Castiello, Andrea Chella, and Michael Atiyeh's Purge - The Tyrant's Fist. This storyline is told across two issues, detailing how Darth Vader and his Imperial subordinates quashed the embers of rebellion on a planet historically supportive of the Jedi Order — and the villain's relentless efforts to kill one Jedi.

Like its counterpart stories, Purge - The Tyrant's Fist is an equal parts compelling and dark, exploring Vader's terrifying conviction in the Dark Side of the Force and his uncontrollable hatred for the remnants of his past as Anakin Skywalker. Perhaps more disturbing, though, are the allusions to how authoritarian regimes will go to gruesome lengths to revise history.

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5 Vader Down

Darth Vader with lightsaber in hand preparing to strike down a Rebel soldier.

The third story arc in the flagship Star Wars series shifts gears to focus on the infamous Dark Lord of the Sith. Vader Down kicks off the titular crossover storyline, pitting the villain alone against a legion of Rebel Alliance soldiers.

This series brought on Darth Vader writer Kieron Gillen along with Aaron's team, and it, once again, shows a show of force from the villain fans haven't seen in movies or TV shows. Vader Down sells the gravity of how dangerous and ruthless Vader is, partly by putting him in a rare situation of fighting for survival with the odds stacked against him.

4 Dark Heart Of The Sith

Darth Vader leading a group of Death Troopers following him in the background.

While it may not stack up to the high standards of preceding runs, Greg Pak and Raffaele Ienco's Darth Vader run has been solid overall. It opens especially strong with the Dark Heart of the Sith story arc, with the villain embarking on a vengeful mission after the events of The Empire Strikes Back.

Rattled by his son's refusal to join him on the Dark Side, Darth Vader's journey in this arc is packed with grim action, tense drama, and exploration of the instability at the root of his dynamic with Emperor Palpatine. Dark Heart of the Sith adds more welcome context to Vader's character and insight into his past.

3 "Imperial Machine"

Darth Vader takes a menacing stance with his lightsaber in Imperial Machine cover art.

Charles Soule, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Jim Cheung's run is another one of the most critically praised contemporary Darth Vader comics. Their run begins with "Imperial Machine," opening up in the grueling moments after Vader and Obi-Wan's fight on Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith.

Fans get a glimpse into what Anakin's early days were like under his grim new mantle, being sicced on surviving Jedi and eliminating them in visceral ways. Soule and co. succeed in making the villain feel like a cosmic horseman of the apocalypse, and their entire run is one of Marvel's best publications outside of usual superhero IPs.

2 "Vader"

Darth Vader wielding his ignited red lightsaber in cover art for the Vader arc.

The Darth Vader's solo debut was memorable, thanks to Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca crafting a fantastic run. In the first story arc, "Vader," fans witness the Sith Lord struggle to save face after the Rebels destroy the first Death Star in A New Hope. This is an immensely satisfying addition to Vader's and the franchise's continuity.

Readers find Darth Vader becoming more aggressive in his desperation to regain the confidence he's lost in his master. Like Vader Down, "Vader" excels in part thanks to how it depicts the Sith Lord in a struggle, rises above it, and gets an original supporting cast to make this stand out further.

1 Darth Vader And The Ghost Prison

Darth Vader raising his hand on a cosmic background in The Ghost Prison cover art.

In the waning days of Dark Horse Comics' first stint with the Star Wars license, Haden Blackman, Augustin Alessio, and Michael Heissler's Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison was a great part of "swansong." After Emperor Palpatine finds himself at death's door from an Imperial insurgency, Vader goes off on a galactic quest to find a cure.

All roads lead to the mysterious Jedi-run facility known as the Ghost Prison, creating a tantalizing look into schisms within the Empire — as well as some Jedi Council controversies. The Ghost Prison sheds light on the grimmer side of the Council's practices, deftly exploring the concept of moral ambiguity.