This may seem like an odd recommendation given the length of time these have been out and that some of the stories have been done in the ‘Clone Wars’ animated series, however I still feel that the original trade paperbacks based between Episode II and Episode III contain some great stories and some great character work in a brilliant world.
George Lucas gave us a huge time gap between Episode II and III and other than a brief conversation about how many times Anakin Skywalker had saved Obi Wan Kenobi seemed to have little interest in filling in the time line, however DarkHorse Comics who had the rights to produce comicbooks (Now at Marvel) seemed very keen to do this and did so long before the animated series hit televisions- and the result was some of the best Star Wars comics to date.
DarkHorse produced 9volumes of stories that all take place between the battle of Genosis and the beginning of Episode 3, with the newest of the tales taking place right at the beginning of ‘Revenge of the Sith’ as we get to see the battle from the perspectives of some of the Jedi we see the unfortunate demise of during ‘Order 66’ and this is something that the entire series gave us, and one of the reasons that it’s so good.
From the beginning this series didn’t focus on the tales of Obi Wan and Skywalker- although they are here and at the front of some tales, but the stories were focused on how the other Jedi and the Sith have been reacting to the Battle of Genosis and how they plan to move forward. This meant that we got our first real looks at jedis such as Quinlan Voss, Plo Koon and Shaak Ti and Kit Fisto amongst others. This meant that DarkHorse were able to expand the universe and tell some very unique stories that felt different from anything wed seen, the best example of this is seeing Quinlan Voss take a mission were he is required to infiltrate the Sith and feed back to the Jedi council everything that is happening- all the while fighting the overpowering force to join the darkside based on the things he has to do to be accepted. This tale spans most of the volumes in small chunks and intersects alot of the other stories, but is definitely one of the more exciting tales in these books. Other tales include seeing Shaak Ti rescue captured Jedi from a Sith prison, a small raid on a droid factory by master Kit Fisto that turns out to be a trap and a host of lightsaber duels that are pencilled to perfection.
The character work in these books feels great too- with all the Jedi code in tact and the perfect mix of action and story telling for each individual you truly feel you get a good sense of who they are and why they are fighting for the republic. Add to that the huge amounts of hate and rage displayed within Asajj Ventress- who is front and centre for most of these volumes as the lead sith and you have a great balance of both light and dark.
These books do everything that the eventual animated series did for the franchise- they gave it new and exciting life outside of the regular movie formula while remaining true to the original Star Wars universe and this is the reason they should be read now. Theres no better time to go back than right before the launch of Star Wars: Rebels.