As our 40-part series ends, we look back at Marvel treating readers to “The Last Jedi!” in 1981.

We all know that the first Star Wars film changed the face of pop culture forever when it hit theaters 40 years ago—but it’s not just the movie that’s celebrating that milestone in 2017. Star Wars comics arrived with force in 1977, and hundreds of issues later, they’re more popular now than ever.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, we’re looking back at our 40 favorite moments from the history of comics from a galaxy far, far away—one day at a time.

By now, you’re well aware that a short time from now in our very own galaxy, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” hits theaters everywhere. In the spirit of the upcoming release of Episode VIII, the 40th and final entry in our “Celebrating Star Wars” series features a story you may not recall—but 1981’s STAR WARS #49 certainly does boast an intriguing title: “The Last Jedi!”

Outside of the mere appearances of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and the droids, however, a shared name is probably all that Episode VIII and STAR WARS #49 have in common. To that end, this adventure, set shortly after “The Empire Strikes Back,” features our heroes disguised for more than half of the issue—and it’s a safe bet that we won’t see Episode VIII’s Luke standing on the steps of his island hideaway wearing an eyepatch and red wig.

Star Wars (1977) #49

Star Wars (1977) #49

  • Published: April 21, 1981
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 15, 2015
  • Rating: All Ages
  • Writer: Mike W. Barr
  • Cover Artist: Walt Simonson
What is Marvel Unlimited?

The “last Jedi” referenced in the issue’s title is actually no Jedi at all, but rather a purple alien named Jedidiah, who suffered a traumatic brain injury while heroically defending the prince of Velmor. “His injuries robbed him of his reason,” Prince Denid tells Luke and Leia, who have arrived on a secluded planet to answer their distress signal. “He remembered only his lost dream of becoming a Jedi Knight…”

From there, our heroes rescue the shipwrecked duo and rush to return Denid to Velmor so that he can be properly crowned before his Empire-loving younger brother is declared king instead. Of course, a climactic battle ensues in order for Denid to claim his rightful rule—but not without some touching further heroics from Jedidiah. Luke himself greatly respects his actions and dubs Jedidiah “the last Jedi.”

As with every other comic featured in the Celebrating Star Wars series, STAR WARS #49 can be read in its entirety by anyone with a Marvel Unlimited subscription. It’s a fun curiosity that’s worth checking out. …Just don’t go in expecting any Episode VIII spoilers.

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Princess Leia sets out on a personal mission in the name of Alderaan.

We all know that the first Star Wars film changed the face of pop culture forever when it hit theaters 40 years ago—but it’s not just the movie that’s celebrating that milestone in 2017. Star Wars comics arrived with force in 1977, and hundreds of issues later, they’re more popular now than ever.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, we’re looking back at our 40 favorite moments from the history of comics from a galaxy far, far away—one day at a time.

With all of the princess rescuing and Death Star destroying that occurs in the last half of “A New Hope,” you’d be forgiven for never considering the psychological effects an earlier major plot point may have had on one of the main characters. But even after a huge victory for your cause, how would you react if your entire planet had been blown apart, ending the lives of billions of others at once? In his PRINCESS LEIA five-issue limited series, Mark Waid tackles that very subject for the eponymous Alderaanian royal.

Princess Leia (2015) #1

Princess Leia (2015) #1

  • Published: March 04, 2015
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: September 07, 2015
  • Rating: Rated T
  • Writer: Mark Waid
  • Cover Artist: Terry Dodson
What is Marvel Unlimited?

PRINCESS LEIA #1 begins in a familiar manner, with the former Imperial senator presenting medals to Luke and Han for their bravery at the Battle of Yavin. From there, she delivers three sentences in remembrance of “the lost souls of Alderaan,” and the speech’s brevity rubs an Alderaanian pilot named Evaan the wrong way. As she’ll soon tell Leia herself, Evaan found the lack of time devoted to memorializing their home planet disrespectful and cold. At the same time, she informs Leia that the Empire is hunting down all remaining Alderaanians in the galaxy—which drives Leia to action. Teamed with Evaan and R2-D2, the princess sneaks out of Yavin—against the wishes of General Dodonna, who has pointed out the 10-million-credit price on her head—to, in Leia’s own words, “find, gather and protect every last surviving son and daughter of Alderaan.”

After escaping a halfhearted attempt to stop her by Luke and Wedge, the issue concludes with Leia posing a question to Evaan that should intrigue any Star Wars fan: “Will you at least get me to Naboo?”

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The Kessel Run was just a warmup for the biggest race of Han Solo’s life…

We all know that the first Star Wars film changed the face of pop culture forever when it hit theaters 40 years ago—but it’s not just the movie that’s celebrating that milestone in 2017. Star Wars comics arrived with force in 1977, and hundreds of issues later, they’re more popular now than ever.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, we’re looking back at our 40 favorite moments from the history of comics from a galaxy far, far away—one day at a time.

As popular as Han Solo remains in the Star Wars mythos, few stories have actually centered around his personal perspective and adventures. In HAN SOLO #1, writer Marjorie Liu and artist Mark Brooks kick off a five-issue series focused squarely on our favorite rebellious scoundrel, as he and Chewbacca embark on a mission for the Rebel Alliance in the time between the Death Star’s destruction in “A New Hope” and the events of “The Empire Strikes Back.”

Han Solo (2016) #1

Han Solo (2016) #1

  • Published: June 15, 2016
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: December 19, 2016
  • Rating: Rated T
  • Writer: Marjorie Liu
  • Penciller: Mark Brooks
What is Marvel Unlimited?

It doesn’t start out as a Rebel mission, however—quite the opposite, in fact. As the story opens, we see Han Solo doing what he does best—acting as a smuggler—as he has left the Rebellion to earn the remaining credits he needs to pay off Jabba the Hutt. Soon enough, though, some forceful Rebel agents present Han with a mission from Princess Leia that demands the use of the Millennium Falcon to engage in the Dragon Void Run, described by Leia as “one of the most notorious, dangerous races in the galaxy.” Of course, Han won’t have anyone piloting the Falcon but he and Chewbacca. So by issue’s end, the race of his life has begun—even bigger than the legendary Kessel Run they legendarily ran in less than 12 parsecs.

“Remember, Han, the mission comes first,” cautions Leia. “The race is your cover. It is not your objective.” Yeah… We’ll see how that goes…

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C-3PO gets his red arm…and an unlikely new friend.

We all know that the first Star Wars film changed the face of pop culture forever when it hit theaters 40 years ago—but it’s not just the movie that’s celebrating that milestone in 2017. Star Wars comics arrived with force in 1977, and hundreds of issues later, they’re more popular now than ever.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, we’re looking back at our 40 favorite moments from the history of comics from a galaxy far, far away—one day at a time.

“You probably don’t recognize me because of the red arm,” says C-3PO in “The Force Awakens.” Though most of us were probably too caught up in seeing Han and Leia together for the first time since 1983, many fans were indeed puzzled by 3PO’s differently hued appendage. The story behind it anchors the STAR WARS SPECIAL: C-3PO one-shot—and even though droids comprise almost the entire cast of “The Phantom Limb,” James Robinson delivers one of the most truly human stories in all Star Wars comics.

Star Wars Special: C-3PO (2016) #1

Star Wars Special: C-3PO (2016) #1

  • Published: April 13, 2016
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: October 17, 2016
  • Penciller: Tony Harris
  • Cover Artist: Tradd Moore
What is Marvel Unlimited?

As we find out early on, the First Order has kidnapped Admiral Ackbar, but the Resistance has managed to capture an Imperial droid named Omri that it believes knows Ackbar’s location. However, the ship carrying Omri has crashed, killing its human passengers and deserting eight droids on a dangerous planet. The seven Resistance droids declare a truce with Omri until they can get to a vessel detected by 3PO to send a distress signal.

Along the way, attacks from spice spiders, man-sized hostile insects, and tentacle monsters—one of which literally dis-arms C-3PO—dwindle the group’s numbers from eight to two…just Threepio and Omri. Their perilous trek has bonded the two enemies at a “human” level, with each pondering his own existence and lot in “life,” even relaying faint memories that should have been completely erased by memory reboots.

As C-3PO and Omri reach their destination, a deadly acid storm prevents them from delivering the distress signal. In the name of friendship, Omri relays Ackbar’s coordinates to C-3PO—then he braves the acid rain, sacrificing himself to call for help. Before destroying all of him but his arm, the acid also revealed a red primer underneath the differently colored paint job Omri had known all his life. When Poe Dameron rescues 3PO, the droid tells Poe that Omri’s remaining limb should replace the one he himself lost.

“You have no idea how this arm offends my aesthetic sensibilities,” he tells BB-9. “Nevertheless…I will keep it for a while to remember.”

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Poe Dameron’s search for Luke Skywalker begins.

We all know that the first Star Wars film changed the face of pop culture forever when it hit theaters 40 years ago—but it’s not just the movie that’s celebrating that milestone in 2017. Star Wars comics arrived with force in 1977, and hundreds of issues later, they’re more popular now than ever.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, we’re looking back at our 40 favorite moments from the history of comics from a galaxy far, far away—one day at a time.

We all remember the first scene of “The Force Awakens,” where Poe Dameron receives a key bit of information from Lor San Tekka that might lead the Resistance to the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker. But how did Poe know to go there in the first place? Writer Charles Soule tackles that question in his ongoing POE DAMERON series, and issue #1 sets the tone by establishing two important things.

Poe Dameron (2016) #1

Poe Dameron (2016) #1

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First, an early scene depicts General Leia Organa explaining a vital Resistance mission she entrusts to Poe. She relays that their best hope for finding her Jedi brother is to locate Lor San Tekka and that she has authorized him to form a small squadron for this essential task. This leads to the second important event established by POE DAMERON #1—the creation of Black Squadron.

By the end of the issue, Black Squadron has arrived to the last known whereabouts of Lor San Tekka, only to learn from the native Crèche cult that he left long ago. Only by learning their ways—which includes the worship of a huge egg that contains their “savior”—will they release this information. And, wouldn’t you know it, that’s the least of Poe’s problems… The First Order has tracked Black Squadron and has just arrived to attack.

Though this particular adventure ends with issue #3, Black Squadron’s search for Lor San Tekka continues today on the shelves of your current local comic shop in the pages of POE DAMERON.

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Lando Calrissian wasn’t always the “respectable leader” we see in the films…

We all know that the first Star Wars film changed the face of pop culture forever when it hit theaters 40 years ago—but it’s not just the movie that’s celebrating that milestone in 2017. Star Wars comics arrived with force in 1977, and hundreds of issues later, they’re more popular now than ever.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, we’re looking back at our 40 favorite moments from the history of comics from a galaxy far, far away—one day at a time.

LANDO #1 begins just the way a limited series starring Lando Calrissian should—with the loveable scoundrel wooing a beautiful woman. In the same scene, Charles Soule elegantly provides a full understanding of Lando’s current place in the galaxy—and he’s not exactly the administrator of a profitable tibanna gas mining facility yet. Rather, he lives a life much like the one lived by his old friend Han Solo, constantly on the run. And in massive debt.

Lando (2015) #1

Lando (2015) #1

  • Published: July 08, 2015
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: January 04, 2016
  • Writer: Charles Soule
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Just as Han has Jabba the Hutt, Lando owes his fair share of credits a soft-spoken crime lord named Papa Toren, who’s got just the operation in mind for Lando to wipe that debt away. It’s a simple robbery involving the theft of a ship full of priceless art from “some rich Imperial.” By issue’s end we learn that said rich Imperial is none other than Emperor Palpatine. Oops…

As a whole, LANDO is worth your time not only for Soule’s spot-on characterization of someone we love from the films despite limited screen time, but also for “buddy film” vibe between Lando and his closest friend, Lobot. Yeah, that’s right—the silent bald guy in “The Empire Strikes Back” with a huge cybernetic implant going around his head. He’s not so silent here, asking intelligent questions in the face of Lando’s unorthodox line of thinking…but by the end of the series, we’ll learn why he’s not so chatty by the time Episode V comes around.

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Star Wars comics reveal how Darth Vader learned his son blew up the Death Star.

We all know that the first Star Wars film changed the face of pop culture forever when it hit theaters 40 years ago—but it’s not just the movie that’s celebrating that milestone in 2017. Star Wars comics arrived with force in 1977, and hundreds of issues later, they’re more popular now than ever.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, we’re looking back at our 40 favorite moments from the history of comics from a galaxy far, far away—one day at a time.

We’ve all seen “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back”—and we all know that Darth Vader was aiming to capture Luke in Episode V despite not knowing his identity during the Death Star trench run. So…how did that happen? How did Vader learn that he almost gunned down his own son? Shared between both STAR WARS #6 and DARTH VADER # 6, one of the greatest moments in Star Wars comic book history reveals this crucial moment in Star Wars lore.

Darth Vader (2015) #6

Darth Vader (2015) #6

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STAR WARS #6 made headlines when it was released for revealing that Han Solo may have a wife, but the arguable bigger revelation is the one Boba Fett conveys to Vader in the issue’s final pages. The bounty hunter had learned of Luke’s identity in STAR WARS #5, and issue #6 kicks off with him encountering Luke—the rare instance of Fett’s prey successfully fleeing. The issue concludes with the revelation. Vader does not take it well…

DARTH VADER #6 ends similarly, but with a more introspective look at the news from the Dark Lord’s perspective. We see thoughts of Padme go through his mind—as well as Palpatine’s lie to him that he killed her. Then, four simple words that should pack a huge emotional wallop to fans: “I have a son.” We know what happens from there.

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The Sith Lord’s first ongoing series begins with one of the best single Star Wars issues ever.

We all know that the first Star Wars film changed the face of pop culture forever when it hit theaters 40 years ago—but it’s not just the movie that’s celebrating that milestone in 2017. Star Wars comics arrived with force in 1977, and hundreds of issues later, they’re more popular now than ever.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, we’re looking back at our 40 favorite moments from the history of comics from a galaxy far, far away—one day at a time.

Though several limited series of the past had featured Darth Vader as their—for lack of a better word—protagonist, not until 2015’s Marvel relaunch of Star Wars comics did the Dark Lord of the Sith receive his own ongoing title. It was worth the wait, though—DARTH VADER ranks among the best Star Wars comic series ever, and its first issue kicks things off memorably.

Darth Vader (2015) #1

Darth Vader (2015) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Anyone who’s seen “Return of the Jedi” remembers Luke Skywalker’s dramatic entrance into Jabba’s Palace on Tatooine. Set shortly after the events of “A New Hope,” DARTH VADER #1 offers an alternate take on this scenario. Vader’s entrance closely mirrors his son’s that will occur a few years later, though with decidedly more sinister methods—mostly involving a lightsaber—used to reach the gangster. “I have only killed two [guards],” the man once known as Anakin Skywalker tells Jabba. “Do not make me reconsider my generosity.”

As the issue continues, we realize its ties to Jason Aaron’s STAR WARS, with references to Vader’s first direct altercation with Luke mentioned—and the fact that Vader’s appearance at Jabba’s Palace is “unofficial,” with the “official” one to occur in STAR WARS #4. We also experience a conversation with the Emperor in which Palpatine expresses his disgust with Vader for the destruction of the Death Star, and that now he will be taking orders from Grand General Tagge. When Palpatine asks Vader if he has anything further to report, he willfully neglects to mention important facts such as the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

DARTH VADER #1 proves that writer Kieron Gillen and artist Salvador Larocca absolutely get this character and this universe. And they won’t let up for the duration of the series’ 25-issue run.

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A new era of Star Wars comics begins...

We all know that the first Star Wars film changed the face of pop culture forever when it hit theaters 40 years ago—but it’s not just the movie that’s celebrating that milestone in 2017. Star Wars comics arrived with force in 1977, and hundreds of issues later, they’re more popular now than ever.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, we’re looking back at our 40 favorite moments from the history of comics from a galaxy far, far away—one day at a time.

“I have a very good feeling about this,” says C-3PO within the first few pages of STAR WARS #1. Beyond simply speaking for himself by turning one of Star Wars’ most well-known phrases on its head, he’s even more so speaking on behalf of us, the fans. The first Star Wars title published by Marvel since the 1980s, this issue represents a rebirth for comics set in a galaxy far, far away, with every action taken and word spoken officially now adopted as Star Wars canon.

Star Wars (2015) #1

Star Wars (2015) #1

  • Published: January 14, 2015
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: July 27, 2015
  • Rating: Rated T
  • Writer: Jason Aaron
  • Cover Artist: John Cassaday
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Thankfully, the issue’s story and art perfectly match the cinematic tone of its source material. You can practically hear the actors’ voices and John Williams’ score in your head as you read Jason Aaron’s words and marvel at John Cassaday’s spot-on, dynamic art. Set within the months following the destruction of the first Death Star, we follow all of our favorite characters—Han, Luke, Leia, Chewbacca and the droids—as they infiltrate an Imperial outpost. Things go well for a while…but then Darth Vader shows up. After an incredible moment where he defends himself against a barrage of blaster fire, Vader ignites his lightsaber—with Luke right before him.

Now at issue #36, STAR WARS continues to delight fans on a regular basis. And it’s still a very good feeling to read it.

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The tyrannical rule of Emperor Palpatine begins…

We all know that the first Star Wars film changed the face of pop culture forever when it hit theaters 40 years ago—but it’s not just the movie that’s celebrating that milestone in 2017. Star Wars comics arrived with force in 1977, and hundreds of issues later, they’re more popular now than ever.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, we’re looking back at our 40 favorite moments from the history of comics from a galaxy far, far away—one day at a time.

“I’m sorry, Senator Braxis,” a familiar out-of-frame character states at the beginning of STAR WARS: DARK TIMES #1. “The Imperial throne cannot interfere in local politics.” In one single opening panel, the tone is set for the 17-issue series to follow, as the Emperor refuses to assist a planet in need. On the same page, Palpatine’s associates inform him that anti-Imperial sentiments have been rounded up and eliminated, and that other planets in turmoil are being put in their place. It’s clear that optimism has no place in this new era for the Star Wars galaxy.

Star Wars: Dark Times (2006) #1

Star Wars: Dark Times (2006) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Beginning shortly after the end of “Revenge of the Sith,” the very title of STAR WARS: DARK TIMES should immediately resonate with Star Wars fans, per an Obi-Wan Kenobi quote about the glory days of the Jedi Knights from “A New Hope”: “Before the dark times. Before the Empire.” Picking up after STAR WARS: PURGE, DARK TIMES serves as a direct continuation of STAR WARS: REPUBLIC, offering numerous story arcs with new and established characters as they adapt to the new galactic order.

Most of issue #1 focuses on a battle of natives versus Imperial forces on New Plympto. Not only do we see the hopeless struggle of the Triceratops-like Nosaurians, we also get a inside the heads of the clone troopers: “When the fighting ends, what then for men bred only to be soldiers?” we’re asked. “What future is there for men of action when peace breaks out?” Anyone familiar with what becomes of the clones comes to realize the phrase “dark times” extends to more than just the good guys…

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