May The Fourth Be With You: Our Top Ten Favourite Marvel Star Wars Covers From The Original Run
by Olly MacNamee
Back before Star Wars was the cultural and global phenomenon it has become, and before it was weighed down with heavy continuity Marvel rushed out the release of their own Star Wars comic. A book that would be free – up to a point – to explore a galaxy far, far away and experiment with stories and characters, with mixed results (we won’t even mention a certain long-eared space rabbit, I promise). It gave eager fans a fix in between films and lasted for 107 issues before being put into moth balls for a good few years until the Dark Horse revival of the 1990s and as interest in the film naturally wained after Return of the Jedi.
Having started off in the so-called Bronze Age of comics of the 1970s, it also had a number of dynamic and dazzling covers across the years, and what better day that today to look back at some of our favourite covers from that era? Here then are our top ten covers to share with you on this special day for Star Wars fans the world over.
1. Star Wars #1 – how could we not include the cover to Star Wars #1 by Howard Chaykin?
2. Star Wars #15 – With Star Wars: A New Hope over and done with, it was time to create new space operatics with covers to match, like this awesome cover by industry great Carmine Infantino.
3. Star Wars #23 Another great Infantino cover, but this time offering up Darth Vader to tantalise fans who may have been starved of Sith Lord action by the time this issue dropped.
4. Star Wars #39 – and the start of the comic book adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back by Al Williamson, who brought a whole new level of realism to the book with an art style that harkens back to the greats of the newspaper comic strip era such as Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon) and Hal Foster (Tarzan). It also brought the house style in line with the film and it’s now established universe. From here on in, the comic would be more attune with the franchise in look and tone.
5. Star Wars #49 – A classic Walt Simonson cover as only Walt can create. With such vivid, eye-catching colors too. Nuff said.
6. Star Wars #50 A cover worthy of a anniversary issue by Walt Simonson and Tom Palmer, who’s inking did somewhat bury Simonson’s incomparable style, but did bring it more in line with the style of Al Williamson and therefore more in keeping with the aesthetics of this title by this point in its run.
7. Star Wars #68 – a now-iconic cover featuring everyone’s favorite bounty hunter by artist Gene Day.
8. Star Wars #73 – one of the few female-focussed Star Wars covers featuring Princes Leia and the Zeltron, Dani, a character clearly designed to appeal to the fan boys with their abilities to produce potent pheromones, which enhanced their attractiveness and likeability. And, a species that was brought back by Dark Horse comics too. A society heavily influenced by sexuality? Hmm, I wonder why they became an occurring species in Star Wars stories over the years? I wonder if we’ll ever see them in the new canonical Star Wars comics?
9. Star Wars #77 – Man versus beast. A simple, but effective cover by Ron Frenz and Tom Palmer. I’ve always liked the solidity Frenz brought to his characters and this is a great example fo the kind of covers he was doing over on The Amazing Spider-Man during his stint on that book in the 80s too.
10. Star Wars # Staying on target, we bring you our last cover by Tom Palmer, showing us what an accomplished artist he could be, even though he was better known as an inker.
Well, that’s a wrap, as they say. I’m sure you have your own faves, but we hope you enjoyed our top picks and, may the force be with you. Always.