Star Wars comics have crossed over with a surprisingly large amount of other titles, far more than you may realize. Though many of the appearances of your favorite characters were limited to easter eggs snuck in by artists and writers, we’ve often been charmed to see who shows up in the galaxy far, far away. But, it’s also interesting to see who drops in to say hi to the future from a long time ago, when other properties drop some eggs of their own.
Universally revered, the saga not only saved comics for a generation of readers, it also inspired a multitude of creators to show their love of Star Wars in their own books. Recently, even Stan Lee joked about how a Marvel/Star Wars crossover film could be possible. From a universal language that only a raccoon can read to Lando cosplaying as his favorite space pirate, here are the 15 Best Star Wars Comic Crossovers:
15. Guardians of the Galaxy – Guardians of Infinity #1
When I was first considering doing the movie, the chance to make something like that was one of the things that got me on board. Not just Star Wars, but Raiders Of The Lost Ark, and other movies like that. The stuff I loved as a kid. I wanted to make a movie that made people feel the way they made me feel… Star Wars and the like were updates of the 1930s serials, and my hope with Guardians is that we’ve done something similar, looking back at those movies while making something new.
After the success of the film, the reenergized Guardians of Infinity (who’s got money on that being the Guardians follow up to Infinity War?) paid tribute to the series that brought it fresh life and subtly nodded their approval to corporate siblings in one fell swoop. After using Rocket as a giant chalkboard eraser, the team discovers an ancient language. Rocket translates what appears to be the basic language of a galaxy far, far away. Thinking they’ve discovered a tomb, the team trudges on, but in reality, the text was the book’s credits — not the first stages of a universal civil war.
14. The Beatles and Buzz Lightyear – Star Wars Tales #7
Of all the Star Wars comics writers that have peppered their stories with characters from outside the outer rim, Kevin Rubio’s unique take on the Skywalker saga has always included more pop culture references than most. As the progenitor of Star Wars parody videos on the internet, Rubio is responsible for “Troops”, the comedic mashup of Cops and the unseen forces on Tatooine in A New Hope. He also penned stories like “A Death Star is Born”, where Rubio explores the lighter side of the dark side’s attempts to build the Death Star.
For Star Wars Tales #7, Rubio partnered with artist Lucas Marangon to create a story that pays tribute to the storied cinematic history of Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson’s Mace Windu and Yoda are out to lunch at a Coruscant diner when two robbers burst in, unaware of whose meal they’ve taken hostage, a la Pulp Fiction. The diner patrons caught off guard by the arrival of the criminals include four lads from Liverpool in Sgt. Pepper garb, the writer himself, and Buzz Lightyear. Apparently, when you go beyond infinity, you end up a long time ago, in a galaxy far, ah, you get it.
13. X-Men – Uncanny X-Men #245
The 245th issue of Uncanny X-Men is something of an odd duck. It’s an in-continuity story, as proven by certain events having large ramifications in later stories, but the “A” plot of the tale is completely batsh**. At the time, DC Comics was publishing the same storyline that would inspire the CW mega-crossover “Invasion” that brought Supergirl into the fold. Occasionally trying to have lighter issues, Uncanny X-Men writer Chris Claremont chose to write a parody of the DC event.
The artist on the issue, a young Rob Liefeld, would be charged with filling several panels with alien creatures. A lot of those characters were pretty recognizable, and less parody as much as poorly drawn. While there has been no end to the amount of criticism slung at the Deadpool creator, it’s hard to argue against the points when your panels contain a hovering Xenomorph head, a depiction of Yoda after a bad night in Tijuana, ALF, and no discernible sense of scale. But, most telling of all, for as many characters as Rob tried to fill into a two-page spread there is only one visible foot amongst them. One.
12. Strong Guy (X-Factor) – Strong Guy Reborn #1
While the characters’ appeal waned in recent years, Guido Carosella was at one time a fairly popular member of the X-books being published by Marvel. The mutant bouncer and celebrity bodyguard was gifted with super strength and massively overdeveloped muscles. X-Factor writer Peter David couldn’t come up with a code name for the character when he joined the team in issue #71, so Strong Guy became the mutant’s moniker.
Before Strong Guy would go down the dour road of becoming a hell lord in service to Mephisto, the character was often depicted as the comic relief of his X-Team. At the height his popularity in 1997, Strong Guy Reborn #1 was released as a one-shot solo adventure for the hero. After his girlfriend is kidnapped by warring alien species, Strong Guy intervenes by inadvertently helping the two species destroy the moon they were arguing over. Before the aliens could turn on Lila and Guido, the pair take off in a parked-nearby Millennium Falcon. What are the odds?
11. Sleepwalker – Sleepwalker #10
By the 1990s, thanks in no small part to Star Wars, pastiche and pop culture references were now a part of the vernacular. One book’s entire conceit was wrapped around the decade’s obsession with all things fanboy. Sleepwalker was a member of the dream police that patrol the Mindscape that connects all intelligent beings. He is bonded with a human when he is tricked into entering his mind and cannot escape. When the human sleeps, Sleepwalker is able to come out and battle injustice, but when awake, Rick Sheridan is a film studies student.
In issue #10 of the series, Sleepwalker is in need of a pep talk. As the two can only meet when Rick is dreaming, the pair often had interesting interference in their discussions. When Rick is trying to convince Sleepwalker that he can’t run from being a hero, the movies that inspired Rick to aspire to heroism begin coming to life around them. Included in these panels are Indiana Jones and Superman. The other two characters featured in shadow are father/son lightsaber fencing team Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. Who knows what other heroes in our society Star Wars will inspire to greatness?
10. Futurama – Star Wars Tales #6
If C-3PO is the epitome of service to his human masters, Futurama’s Bender is his dark reflection. The beer drinking, cigar smoking robot was a highlight of Groenig’s Simpsons follow-up. When it came to the references, Futurama was much more comfortable making Trek jokes, while Family Guy became known as the land of the Star Wars non-sequitur, but there was plenty of Star Wars love abound. Bender’s voice was provided by John Dimaggio, who participated in an all-star read-through of the saga in character at several conventions.
The character would forever be enshrined in the Star Wars legacy thanks to fellow Con-favorite Sergio Aragones’ art on the Star Wars Tales story “Junk Heap Hero”, where C-3PO and R2-D2 become separated. Fearing his friend has been lost to the scrap yard, C-3PO searches in vain for the astromech droid, not knowing he was safe and sound to begin with. Though Artoo may not have been there, we did spot our favorite uncouth AI in the junkpile (bottom right in the photo above). Now if only we could see the live action Bender in Ep VIII. Shut up and take our credits!
9. Transformers – Transformers #52
The merchandising around Star Wars toys launched entire industries in the 1980s, as toy manufacturers raced to capitalize on the model the saga created. One property that filled the post trilogy void was Transformers. The two toy lines have a storied shared history that even goes as far as having Star Wars vehicle versions of the robots in disguise. Whether as a nod to their predecessor’s legacy or just animators that were big fans of George Lucas’ space fable, there have been many Star Wars easter eggs in the Transformers cartoon, comic books, and even in the film, Revenge of the Fallen.
Two droids that have found no end to their adventures found their way among the Autobots and Decepticons on numerous occasions. In issue #52 of the Transformers comic, the autobots journey to Grand Central Space Station. The Blackhole Bar and Grill, while not a wretched hive of scum and villainy, has a similar prohibition of what they call Chromites. The golden android is shot out of the airlock, just as he would be denied at the Mos Eisley Cantina. Can someone please just give C-3PO a drink? He’s becoming the Frank Gallagher of the Core Planets.
8. Space Pirate Harlock – Classic Star Wars #79
While many are already aware of the Japanese influence on Star Wars through George Lucas’s love of Akira Kurosawa, the inspirations for many of the space opera elements of the series would come from anime like Space Battleship Yamato. Master animator Leiji Matsumoto worked on the show and would create two more series that would launch the same year as Star Wars: Space Pirate Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999.
In Marvel’s Star Wars comics, writer Jo Duffy pays loving tribute to Leiji Matsumoto’s contributions to sci-fi and influences on the franchise. In issue #76, as an homage to Space Battleship Yamato, the writer introduced the planets Iskalon and Gamandar — versions of Yamato’s Iskandar and Gamilon. The least subtle nod though comes in issue #79, in which Lando Calrissian must go undercover as “Captain Drebble” to secure information. The costume the artists concocted was an ode to Space Pirate Captain Harlock.
7. Nightcrawler & Kitty Pryde – Uncanny X-Men #155
The adventures of the X-Men often saw the mutant team facing cosmic threats. The success of “The Dark Phoenix Saga” would result in fans calling for more intergalactic adventures with the Shi’ar empire. In Uncanny X-Men #155, a new race of creatures would be introduced from beyond the stars. Inspired by the xenomorph of Alien, the Brood would make their debut in this issue, in addition to Cyclops learning that his father is a mustachioed space pirate.
While the team is split up trying to fight the Brood and Deathbird, the sister of Shi’ar Empress Lilandra, Nightcrawler, and Kitty Pryde would go in search of clothes to replace the two piece bathing suit she’s been running around space in. The Shi’ar tech that Shadowcat uses allows her to switch outfits instantly, modeling looks after the Empress, a mashup of Mary Marvel w/ Phoenix, and finally a Dark Lord of the Sith. Darth Vader makes a cameo, at least as a costume, while Kurt can do nothing but exclaim, “Kitty!” at the appearance of the villain whose name translates from the German to “Dark Father.” Germany, really good at holding back spoilers.
6. Star Trek – Star Wars: Darkforce Rising #3
It’s a debate as old as nerddom, science fiction versus science fantasy. In 1966, Star Trek would broadcast into homes across the country, with Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future in space taking the world by storm. A decade later, George Lucas would present his perspective of the past through the space opera of a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. While one presents a potential future for humanity, the other attempts to show us where we’ve been through historical allegory. While history has proven time and again that there is more than enough room in pop culture for both, fans of Star Wars and Star Trek would often pit themselves against each other in a quest for intergalactic superiority. While the casts of the two franchises have poked fun over the years, the actors have come to show a deep respect for the others’ work.
With so much animosity, it would seem impossible to get the characters to ever crossover… at least, officially. In the third issue of Dark Force Rising, Luke Skywalker visits a planet filled with space tourists. Amongst the population is the bridge crew of the Enterprise and a child holding a model of NCC-1701. Bones, Spock, and James T. Kirk appear in a single panel, but in a world where there was Star Trek/X-Men crossover before a Star Wars/Star Trek love fest, we’ll take what we can get.
5. Space Knights and Captain Universe – Infinity #1
After Joss Whedon’s Avengers post-credits tease of Thanos, Marvel took the opportunity to push their big bad in the pages of the mega-crossover event, Infinity. The event would bring together members of the X-Men, Avengers, Inhumans, and the Illuminati as they banded together to defeat both the universe planning Builders and the forces of Thanos. As the builders swept through the universe, destroying and rebuilding worlds that didn’t prosper according to their plans, the Avengers mounted a superhero posse and raced into the void to stop them, while Thanos used the lack of defenses on Earth to stage an attack. The odds were so great against our heroes that even visitors from other universes couldn’t stand against the Builders.
Infinity #1 sees the planet of Galador come under attack by the alien race that planned and developed a multitude of intergalactic societies. The Builders are expecting resistance, but are surprised when they find out the world they are devastating has heroes. On the planet’s surface, a familiar looking farm boy and his red-haired wife meet Captain Universe, the living embodiment of the heavens, where they recount the tale of Galador’s Space Knights. In a wink to Marvel’s past as the publisher of both Star Wars comics and ROM the Space Knight, the publisher does the unthinkable and destroys Galador. Knights, Jedi or otherwise, were vaporized, thus ending the Space Knights before ROM’s potential return in Transformers: The Last Knight.
4. Soul Calibur IV – Star Wars Infinities: Visions of the Blade
Fighting game enthusiasts had a lot to love in the Soul Calibur franchise. A fighter with an emphasis on swordplay, the developers showed a willingness to play with convention and included guest characters like Heihachi from Tekken, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, and even Link from Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series in Soul Calibur 2. For the franchise’s fourth installment, however, developers would include guest characters that could truly be a force to be reckoned with. While this may not be their fighting game debut, Yoda and Darth Vader were featured in Soul Calibur IV as playable fighters.
The 16-page online-comic prequel to Soul Calibur IV, “Visions of the Blade”, saw Sith Lord Darth Vader, secret apprentice Starkiller from The Force Unleashed, and Jedi Master Yoda all receive visions of a mystical blade and the battles they must fight for it. Drawn into the war for the Soul Calibur, the three force wielders each square off against warriors from the fabled fighting game franchise.
3. Star Wars: Vector
Outside of the Star Wars films, there may be no more beloved property within the massive franchise as the Knights of the Old Republic video games. The game, developed by Mass Effect creators BioWare, would receive a comic book capitalizing on its popularity from Dark Horse. At the time of its printing, Dark Horse had four major ongoing comics set in the Star Wars universe: KOTOR, a series set thousands of years before A New Hope; Dark Times, a continuation of the previous series Republic during the height of Palpatine’s government; Rebellion, a follow-up to the series Empire that details the traditional Star Wars heroes’ adventures; and Legacy, the adventures of Luke Skywalker’s pirating great grandnephew.
In 2008, Dark Horse would bring the books together in a unique way by having a character and threat bridge the millennia. In this case, a Sith plague and amulet-possessed Jedi. After a vision spanning thousands of years drives the characters of KOTOR to find an amulet that allows control of plague-infected Rakghoul, Celeste Moon bonds with the amulet and goes into a suspended animation until the plague can be cured. Unfortunately, Celeste doesn’t wake again until Darth Vader comes for the amulet generations later. While she would successfully keep the amulet out of the wrong hands, she was cursed to be alone with the Rakghouls and a Sith spirit as her only company.
2. Vader Down
After Disney’s purchase and revitalization of the Star Wars brand, one of the first things fans asked was, “What does this mean for the comics?” The franchise had been under the care of Dark Horse for some time, but Disney already owned a comics publisher in Marvel, so why continue allowing a competitor to make comics based on your property? Disney elected to give the comics a shakeup, as they announced in 2014 that the license would revert back to Marvel the following year.
Launching with the titles Star Wars and Darth Vader, the two books reset the status quo for comics in a galaxy far, far away. After their initial arcs, it was decided they would crossover in Vader Down, a story about the Dark Lord of the Sith on the run from the entirety of the Rebel fleet. After the Rebel Alliance learns of Darth Vader being stranded on a planet with few defenses and no allies, Leia calls in all Rebellion reinforcements to try to finish Palpatine’s apprentice for good. With the fleet moving against the Sith Lord en masse, they are caught off guard when Vader handles his business and takes out multiple cadres of X-Wings.
1. Han Solo / Indiana Jones – Star Wars Tales #19
Harrison Ford’s casting as both of Lucasfilm’s most sarcastic creations has made the meeting between a space smuggler and an adventurous history professor a fan obsession for almost 35 years. The crossovers between franchises were limited to references to R2-D2 in hieroglyphics and a nightclub named after a Jedi in the Raiders of the Lost Ark and it’s prequel follow-up Temple of Doom, respectively. It wouldn’t be until Dark Horse asked writer W. Haden Blackman to pen “Into the Great Unknown” for their Star Wars Tales series that Dr. Jones and Captain Solo would cross paths.
When Han and Chewie encounter some resistance during an operation, they have to make an emergency jump into hyperspace. The pair crash in a lush forest on an unfamiliar planet. Just as Han laments that he has a bad feeling, Chewbacca and Solo are attacked by Native Americans. In this non-canon imagining of Han Solo’s death, the beloved scoundrel is done in by an arrow. About 200 years later, Dr. Henry Walton Jones Jr. is investigating the mysteries of the Sasquatch. He and his now teenaged ward Short Round discover the ruins of the Millennium Falcon and the skeleton of its Captain in the cockpit. As Jones decides to leave the strange ship untouched, a lonely Wookie is seen living in the trees, unwilling to engage the doppelganger of his long dead friend.
Got a favorite Star Wars Comic Easter Egg or crossover we missed? Tell us about it in the comments!