In some respects,Andor is a new frontier: a series spinning off from not only the Skywalker Saga but specifically one of the two Star Wars Story films (in this case, Rogue One). The new series—the first three episodes of which debuted on Disney+ this week—is also largely disconnected from anything to do with the Force, the Jedi, or any of that flashy lightsaber stuff.
But that doesn’t make Andor totally uncharted territory. Many comics, novels, and even video games have explored the same time period in the saga, and the same ideas. If three episodes only whets your appetite for more stories from the earliest days of the conflict between the Galactic Empire and the nascent Rebellion, these comics will fill that void.
Andor might be the origin story for a character that audiences already saw at the end of Rogue One, but it’s not the first time Star Wars fans have had a chance to see Cassian Andor in his prime. For that particular pleasure, look to this one-off special issue released by Marvel to tie in with the movie’s 2017 theatrical release. It’s essentially a comic that reveals the first meeting between Andor and his robot companion, the snarky but ultimately heroic K-2SO. Except … maybe he’s not entirely heroic the first time the two meet.
Cassian Andor was only one of the motley crew at the center of Rogue One—and, arguably, the most boring of the entire bunch, if you can ignore the admittedly magnetic charm of actor Diego Luna. (He is, after all, particularly watchable, I think we can all agree.) Perhaps you might like to spend some time with another couple of characters from the movie—Baze Malbus and Chirrut Îmwe—via this manga adaptation of Greg Rucka’s fan-favorite novel. Can Malbus and Îmwe keep the Kyber Temple safe from invasion from the occupying Imperial forces? Can anyone truly become one with the Force? Expect answers to at least one of those questions in this fast-moving, fun short story.
While Cassian’s origin unfolds on one side of the Galaxy, as the Empire grows in strength and the Rebellion gets started, something else is taking shape elsewhere—and Charles Soule’s wonderfully melodramatic, operatic run on the solo Darth Vader comic book shows it happening in glorious, over-the-top fashion. Set immediately after Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader, think of this as the flip side of the Andor series as Vader truly becomes the Dark Lord of the Sith fans love. How extra is it, you might ask? The answer is simple: It reads like the perfect comic book version of John Williams’ “Imperial March” theme. I think you get what I’m saying.
Meanwhile, the early days of the Empire/Rebellion conflict are at the heart of this adaptation of Timothy Zahn’s 2017 book that brought the noncanonical villain, originally created for the post-Return of the Jedi novels, back into Star Wars officially. If Cassian is a surprisingly morally gray member of the Rebellion—a group traditionally filled with outright good guys, based on the morality of the franchise as a whole—then Thrawn is an equally complex baddie who’s out for more than might be initially suspected. It’d be fun if he weaseled his way into the Andor show in some form or another, wouldn’t it?
OK, consider this one a fun palette cleanser: If Andor is the gritty take on Star Wars that focuses heavily on the second half of the franchise’s title and the cost that enacts from everyone involved in it, then Imperial Cadet … isn’t. Spinning out of one brief scene in Solo, it’s a story set during the brief period when Han was a somewhat unwilling, unconvinced member of the Imperial army—even though he failed to be entirely convinced by what it was trying to do. It’s not exactly a romp, and yet … it’s certainly romp-adjacent. And, really, when it comes to Star Wars, isn’t that really what we’re all looking for, at least sometimes?