Saturday, April 1, 2017

Classic Cover Comparison: Star Wars #6 and Star Wars Weekly #12

There are many aspects of Star Wars that were revolutionary when it was released, but none more-so than the visual effects used for the space battles.  Star Wars is not the first science fiction movie to feature space battles, but it introduced a new way of filming them using a motion camera that make the battles more realistic.  To aid the special effects wizards at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), George Lucas spliced together footage from old war movies to show what he wanted to see in the dogfight sequences in the movie.  This guide helped ILM to create the ground breaking visual effects that would excite audiences and create life long fans of many people who watched this movie.

The sixth and final issue of Marvel's adaptation of Star Wars covers the final space battle.  The Rebel base on Yavin 4, facing annihilation from "the ultimate power in the universe", launches a desperate attack against the Death Star.  Squadrons of X-Wing and Y-Wing Fighters attempt to fend off Imperial TIE Fighters while coordinating runs down a trench on the surface of the space station, hoping to exploit its one weakness.  Even after all these years, that dogfight in space is exciting and Star Wars #6 does a decent job of capturing the sequence in pictures.

Star Wars #6a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (December 1977)
The cover to Star Wars #6 appropriately shows the main hero fighting the main villain.  The lightsaber duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader never actually takes place; instead this fight is symbolic of the battle between Luke and Vader in the trench of the Death Star.  The background shows a Y-Wing Fighter firing on two TIE Fighters.  In the foreground, Princess Leia is awkwardly lying on the ground, symbolizing the helplessness she feels on Yavin 4 while the battle transpires above.

Star Wars Weekly #12a - Marvel Comics, England (April 26, 1978)
last half of Star Wars #6
Everything about the cover for Star Wars Weekly #12 is done better than Star Wars #6.  The symbolic fight between Luke and Vader is still present, but instead of showing two diminutive figures against a generic dogfight in the background, the two characters are drawn larger with the fighters they are piloting in the foreground.  Luke is in nearly an identical pose as Star Wars #6, while Vader is attacking instead of talking.  Parts of both characters are translucent which further emphasizes the symbolism; neither character is actually there in space, but instead those characters represent the pilots of the spaceships beneath them.  Another nice touch on this cover is we see the conflict is occurring near the Death Star.  Finally, Leia is absent from this cover which is just as well since her predicament is out of character.

Much of the verbiage on the U.S. cover is retained for the British cover.  Instead of being the climax of the year's best movie!, it is the climax of the year's most sensational movie!  Darth Vader's word balloon exclaiming "Today you die, Luke Skywalker!  This is your final battle!" is combined with the blurb See Luke Skywalker Battle Darth Vader! into the more succinct blurb Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader: The Final Battle!

I really like the cover for Star Wars Weekly #12.  All of the original components are present with the exception of Princess Leia, but they are rearranged to make a more cohesive drawing.

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