tar Wars comics are a great source of quality stories. However, not everyone knows the best way to approach them. When talking about traditional novels, most everyone is familiar with physical books vs. ebooks vs. audiobooks, but with comics that is less common.
If you don’t know what story you want to read, maybe start with some of our guides on that topic before thinking about your preferred medium.
- Star Wars Comics Foundational Five
- Guide to The High Republic Phase 1 Comics
- Guide to War of the Bounty Hunters
But if you’re ready to actually read the stories themselves, this is the guide for you. Check out our ideas below for the best way you can consume any story you want in the world of Star Wars comics.
Digital comics are some of the easiest ways to read the stories. Some may prefer the physical experience of flipping through pages, but reading digital comics on a computer or tablet is by far the most convenient. It can be a great place to get started for newer readers. In addition to convenience, there are also some neat features that are exclusive to digital reading. One such feature is guided reading. The correct order to read panels is not intuitive to everyone, and this feature takes that guesswork out of the equation by zooming in and showing the story panel by panel.
The first method of reading digital Star Wars comics is the best bargain: Marvel Unlimited. Simply put, Marvel Unlimited gives you access to the entirety of the Marvel back-catalog for $69/year. This includes all modern Marvel SW comics, the classic Marvel SW comics, the Legends Dark Horse comics, as well as all of the regular Marvel superhero comics. You can read just about everything this way. New comics are added to the service 3 months after they are published, so you may not be able to be completely current, but it is a great method of catching up on older issues.
Marvel Unlimited is available on both desktop browsers and mobile apps. Neither interface is perfect, but it is still a fine experience after you get used to it. It can just be a bit hard to find exactly what you’re looking for at times, but once you master the search function and build up your library, you’ll have no problems.
The next method is the best digital method for reading comic books as they come out. Comixology began as one of the first ways to digitally consume comic books. Since then, it was purchased by Amazon and has now been fully integrated into the Amazon ecosystem. You can purchase digital issues, digital graphic novels, and you can even set up automatic digital subscriptions. Like Marvel Unlimited, there are certainly issues with the user experience, but it is usable once you get used to it. Books are added to your kindle account after you purchase them, and they remain in your digital library forever.
Unlike Marvel Unlimited, you are not required to pay for a subscription service. This allows you to pick and choose what you want to read, and read them as soon as they are released. There is a Comixology Unlimited subscription option, but it is generally not recommended due to its relatively small library of Star Wars comics in comparison with alternatives like Marvel Unlimited. Note, for those who want to purchase large amounts of comics, they always have a large May the 4th sale in which TPBs and Epic Collections can often be bought for very cheap.
There is another option that’s lesser known than the first two, and it’s even free! Many public libraries utilize an online system, such as Libby, where you can check out digital books, audiobooks, and even comics. You just need to sign up for a free library card to access them. Many of these services will have a limit on how much you can read in a given time, but a limited amount of free comics is better than no free comics. If you have a library card, check out your local library to see what sort of digital system they use, and if you don’t have a library card, get on it!
Physical comics embody the classic experience. For many, you cannot replace the feeling of flipping through those pages. However, there are different ways of approaching things that were not all necessarily available back in the days of newsstand releases. You may be subscribing to single issues or trade-waiting for larger collection releases. We will try to cover the most common options, and hopefully you can find what works best for you.
Single issues, or floppies, are what most people think of when they think comic books. Single issues in a story are released approximately once per month, contain roughly twenty pages of art, and are sequentially numbered. You can buy physical issues from a local comic book store (LCS), with a mail subscription from Marvel, or via online retailers like Midtown Comics. We recommend using an LCS if it’s an option for you. You can speak to the workers there in order to set up a “pull list”. Every week, they will set aside the comics you want, and when you show up for your weekly purchase, they’re always waiting for you. This way, you never have to worry about them running out of what you are looking for. Often, they will give you special discounts or bonuses as well.
There are two big factors to consider when buying comics in this way. First is storage. Assuming you want to keep your books, you have to think about how you will store them. It is far easier to damage a comic book over a novel. Most will get bags and boards to put each book in, then it is recommended you buy what are called “short boxes” or “long boxes” to load your comics into. You have to consider what space you have available and what best suits your style. Another consideration is cost. Single issues can be decently expensive to keep up with, especially if you are trying to read everything from SW. There are other options that will help you save some money if you have the patience.
Trade paperbacks (TPBs) are a very popular way to read comic book stories. Trade paperbacks are collections of usually 4-6 issues that are bound together months after initial release. They are slightly cheaper than buying issue by issue and are usually in supply at major retailers. You can order them from your LCS as well. Nearly every SW comic is eventually published in a TPB, you just might need to be patient. Although this section is about physical comics, you can also buy digital TPBs as a way to save a few bucks.
Another potential advantage of reading trade paperbacks is the ability to read an entire story arc at once. Think of this like the binge model of watching a show versus watching week-to-week. If you’re a reader who sometimes has trouble remembering what happened in last month’s issues, then maybe reading a whole story in a single trade is the route for you.
So, we won’t spend too much time on this, as they aren’t super common. There haven’t been any hardcovers printed since 2020 (at time of writing). The name hardcover can be somewhat confusing. In the context of Star Wars comics, they are usually collections of 2 TPBs in a nicer, hardcover format. For instance, Darth Vader (2015) Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 collect issues #1-6 and #7-12 respectively. The Hardcover Vol. 1 collects issues #1-12. These are generally collector items as they take even longer to publish than TPBs, are not guaranteed to be released, and do not have the same cost saving potential.
Epic Collections are a large format paperback volume from Marvel. These books collect curated sets of Legends comics, rather than specific runs. They are a great way to approach Legends comics, if you don’t really know where to start. With a few exceptions, most are pretty affordable. Like TPBs, you can also buy these digitally. For collectors, these epic collections also use a uniform design for their bindings if you want to see just how many you can fit on your shelf.
Last, but certainly not least, is the omnibus. The omnibus is the ultimate collector’s format. These hardcover volumes are large in both page size and page amount. They traditionally collect the entirety of a comic book run, with the notable exception of Star Wars (2015). In that case, the run was simply too long to collect in one book.
These are quite pricey, but give a premium experience. They generally will be released long after a series finishes. However, they are not guaranteed to ever come out. So banking on an eventual omnibus can be a risk, but that risk may pay off with a beautiful collection piece. Omnibus also require some special care, as reading them incorrectly can cause damage to the binding due to the massive weight of the book. However, setting all of this aside, the omnibus is a great pickup for those who are big collectors.
Hopefully you have come away from this with some better idea on how you might read comic books. Whether you go digital, physical, or some combination of the two, we hope you take the time to get into reading Star Wars comics. There are fantastic stories waiting to be read that too many fans don’t take the time to read because of the barrier to entry. Now, you should be equipped to go out and start breezing through them.
For more information about these upcoming events and all things Star Wars comics, be sure to keep your eyes on Youtini and check out The Cosmic Force every Wednesday night at 8pm Eastern.