The Playlist: A Guide to the First Death Star’s Biggest Moments

Looking to do some Death Star recon before seeing Rogue One? Here's your guide, from movies to comics.

For Star Wars fans who want a better understanding of various topics, there can be a lot of material to wade through. In The Playlist, we’ll curate select installments of Star Wars that will give you that greater understanding of a specific topic. Consider it your own Jedi Archives — or cheat sheet for your Jedi midterms.

As we gear up for Rogue One and get ready to learn more and more about the plans to the first dreaded Death Star, there’s so much we know already. Or at least much has been hinted at. Piecing together the following playlist of Star Wars films, books, comics, and cartoons, we’re left with a picture that will fully contextualize the struggle to create the Death Star, but also to destroy it. Until Rogue One comes out, that is.


1. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones The first time we catch a glimpse of the space station is on Geonosis, which is a planet inextricably tied to the construction of the Death Star. Although at this point we’re not quite sure what it is, we know the Sith want to build it, and that’s reason enough for us to fear it.


2. Star Wars: The Clone Wars, The Crystal Crisis arc – Although these episodes of The Clone Wars were never completed, they still tell a vital part of the story –they show how desperate the Sith are to get the raw materials that could be used to build the Death Star’s super-laser.


3. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith Our first glimpse of the station’ construction comes in the final moments of Revenge of the Sith. We’ve already seen what horrors the Sith are capable of — that the station is their next step is truly terrifying.

Tarkin Cover

4. Tarkin by James Luceno Grand Moff Tarkin was instrumental in putting together the Death Star over the years, though he suffered many setbacks as he worked. This novel outlines one of his largest hurdles during this period: the theft of his ship, the Carrion Spike.


5. Star Wars Rebels (“Breaking Ranks,” Season 1, Episode 4) – Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi aren’t the only heroes who worked to keep massive Kyber crystals that could be used for mass destruction out of the hands of the Empire. The heroes of Phoenix Squadron did their best to do the same.


6. Star Wars Rebels (“The Honorable Ones,” Season 2, Episode 15) – The first inkling the rebellion has that the Empire might be leading a massive construction project comes when the rebels of Lothal arrive at Geonosis. They find massive orbital construction platforms and a once verdant planet completely dead. But why? Those are the questions many will soon begin to ask, including one Imperial Agent Kallus…

BadFeeling - Episode IV Death Star

7. Star Wars: A New Hope This is it. The Death Star is completed. After years of construction, setbacks, and genocide, the Empire is ready to fire their ultimate weapon — and it has the power to destroy an entire planet in one shot.

Lost Stars Cover

8. Bonus #1: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray – This novel covers the Imperial perspective of what it was like serving aboard the Death Star.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #1 cover

9. Bonus #2: Marvel’s Darth Vader Vol. 1 by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca – This comic book, set just after the events of A New Hope, has Darth Vader revisit Geonosis. It reveals some of the secrets of what must have happened there at the hands of the Empire during the construction of the Death Star. The superb series centers on Vader looking to regain his stature in the Empire following the Death Star’s destruction.

We’ll know even more sooner rather than later. Catalyst, a book by James Luceno, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story are coming before the end of the year (and will slide into the list between #6 and #7), and we’ll know more than we ever have about the Empire’s secret weapon that would spell certain doom for the entire galaxy.

Bryan Young is an author, a filmmakerjournalist, and the editor in chief of! He’s also the co-host of the Star Wars podcast, Full of SithYou can also follow him on Twitter.