We all know that the first Star Wars film changed the face of pop culture forever when it hit theaters 40 years ago today—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.
Timothy Zahn’s “Heir to the Empire” may stand out as the most popular Star Wars novel adapted to comics, but Alan Dean Foster’s “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye” may be the most interesting, speaking solely as a piece of Star Wars history. Foster’s work debuted at bookstores in 1978, a year after the original “Star Wars” hit theaters, and was written in an almost “just in case” manner; should “Star Wars” have failed to warrant a big-budget sequel, Foster’s story may have served as a follow-up on a smaller scale.
Released in 1995, the comic version of SPLINTER OF THE MIND’S EYE illustrates that smaller scale nicely, with the action occurring only in space and on one planet, and the only recognizable movie characters being Luke, Leia, the droids and Darth Vader. In the spirit of basing a low-budget potential film from this story, that’s one less Harrison Ford and expensive Wookiee suit. At the same time, slight updates to the original story include Vader speaking with Captain Piett of the next two movies.
The story also introduces a key element to Star Wars lore: with a powerful Force-powered gem known as the “Kaiburr Crystal.” That idea has evolved to what Star Wars fans now know as kyber crystals—the source of power for lightsabers and, as we learned in “Rogue One,” the Death Star’s super laser.