My top 40 ‘Star Wars’ comic book stories for the 40th anniversary: The top 10

Concluding the countdown of my top 40 "Star Wars" comic stories, here are my top 10:

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My top 40 ‘Star Wars’ comic book stories for the 40th anniversary: Nos. 20-11

Continuing the countdown of my top 40 "Star Wars" comic stories, here are Nos. 20-11:

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My top 40 ‘Star Wars’ comic book stories for the 40th anniversary: Nos. 30-21

Continuing the countdown of my top 40 "Star Wars" comic stories, here are Nos. 30-21:

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My top 40 ‘Star Wars’ comic book stories for the 40th anniversary: Nos. 40-31

Earlier this year, I ranked my top 40 "Star Wars" books. But the 40th anniversary year isn't over yet, so over the next four days, I'll count down my top 40 "Star Wars" comic book stories, from the Expanded Universe (a.k.a. Legends) that started with the first issue of Marvel's movie adaptation on April 12, 1977, and concluded with Dark Horse's "Legacy Volume II" Issue 18 on Aug. 27, 2014. The EU is gone, but not forgotten, as these stories will always stay ripe for a re-read.

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10 years ago, ‘Family Guy’ delivered the ultimate ‘Star Wars’ parody with ‘Blue Harvest’

There are broad "Star Wars" parodies, and then there are insider-y "Star Wars" parodies, and then there's a near-perfect mix of the two: The "Family Guy" episode "Blue Harvest," which aired 10 years ago today. According to the DVD's bonus features, the project came about when Lucasfilm approved all of "Family Guy's" "Star Wars" parodies and Seth MacFarlane and company figured why not ask if they could do a whole episode?

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‘Star Wars’ flashback: ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ (1980) and ‘Return of the Jedi’ (1983) comics

My look back at the "Star Wars" saga comic adaptations concludes with the best and the most disappointing entries, both from the legendary duo of Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson ("Classic Star Wars"), along with background artist Carlos Garzon: "Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) and "Episode VI: Return of the Jedi" (1983). "Empire" is exactly what we want from an adaptation – the spirit of film, without being a mere copy – while "Jedi" fails mostly because it's too short.

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‘Star Wars’ flashback: The ‘A New Hope’ original (1977) and Special Edition (1997) comic adaptations

"Star Wars' " comic book history naturally started with "Episode IV: A New Hope" (1977), and the adaptation by writer Roy Thomas and artist Howard Chaykin is still a fun read today for its vibrant energy. Plus, it gains serious kitsch value for its odd departures from what we now understand to be the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Thomas and Chaykin were getting to know "Star Wars" at the same time as everyone else. While they were bumped from the Marvel comics after Issue 10 in part because George Lucas didn't like their work, their six-issue "A New Hope" adaptation is still widely loved for both quality and nostalgia.

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‘Star Wars’ flashback: The prequel trilogy comic adaptations (1999-2005)

I feel the "Star Wars" prequel films get a little more stagey and theatrical – or to be harsher, a little sloppier -- as they go along, but the comic adaptations are the opposite: They get progressively better. "Episode I: The Phantom Menace" (1999) is a flat retelling, "Episode II: Attack of the Clones" (2002) has vibrant art but can't overcome another bland script, and "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" (2005) is poetic and beautiful.

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‘Star Wars’ flashback: ‘Clone Wars Adventures’ digests (2004-07)

The Genndy Tartakovsky "Clone Wars" TV microseries (2003-05) delivered bite-size kinetic tales that served as a testing ground for "The Clone Wars" (2008-14). Its comic-book parallel was the "Clone Wars Adventures" digests (2004-07), in which artists – most often the Fillbach Brothers – and colorists mimic Tartakovsky's work and the microseries' energy.

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‘Star Wars’ flashback: ‘Agent of the Empire’ (2011-13)

One of the most all-around beautiful pieces of "Star Wars" comic storytelling came toward the end of the Dark Horse run: "Agent of the Empire," which includes the five-issue arcs "Iron Eclipse" (2011-12) and "Hard Targets" (2012-13). The series is written by elite scribe John Ostrander with gorgeous art by Stephane Roux and Stephane Crety ("Iron Eclipse") and Davide Fabbri and Christian Dalla Vecchia ("Hard Targets"). The latter duo delivered crisp and colorful art on "Republic" and "Empire," but colorist Wes Dzioba smartly selects darker hues here to fit the mood.

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