Monday, June 5, 2017

Classic Cover Comparison: Star Wars #39 and Classic Star Wars #3

Star Wars #39 is the start of the 6-part The Empire Strikes Back adaptation in the Marvel Star Wars title.  The cover artwork is by Al Williamson and Carlos Garz√≥n.  It is a terrific cover which focuses on Darth Vader in the foreground and in the background is his Super Star Destroyer, the Executor, flank by standard Star Destroyers to show how massive the ship is.  The cover is apropos for the movie title and theme, focusing on the main villain and his command ship he uses to hunt down the heroes. It is unfortunate that the cover is marred by the extra wide yellow Toys R' Us banner at the top and by the large movie logo at the bottom.  Regardless, this is a classic cover in the truest sense; it is one of the more recognizable vintage Star Wars covers and is used on various merchandise featuring Star Wars comic art.

Star Wars #39a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (September 1980)
When Dark Horse printed the Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson comic strips in the Classic Star Wars title, not only did Al Williamson provide new artwork for the interior to improve the flow of the story, he also created new covers.  Classic Star Wars #3 has a cover that is very similar to Star Wars #39; Darth Vader is again the focus and in the foreground is his command ship, the Executor, this time being constructed at the Shipyards of Fondor.  To show the size of the Executor, like on the Marvel cover, a standard Star Destroyer is shown in close proximity.

Classic Star Wars #3a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (October 1992)
In many ways, the Classic Star Wars #3 cover is an improvement on Star Wars #39 and with the similarity between the two covers, it is hard to imagine Al Williamson didn't have the original in mind.  The biggest improvement is how Darth Vader is incorporated into the art.  Rather than being solid, Vader is drawn as a ghost-like figure, allowing the details from a busier star field in the background to be seen.  Vader is also more dynamic on the cover, still clutching a lightsaber in his right hand, but reach out to the reader with his left hand.

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