Marvel’s Star Wars #6, from 1977, features stunning artwork, particularly in the depiction of the Death Star explosion, which is rendered with legitimate beauty. The Marvel comics adaptation of Star Wars played a crucial role in turning the franchise into an enduring phenomenon and laid the groundwork for the Expanded Universe stories. The creative team behind Star Wars #6, including Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin, deserve recognition for their contributions to the early success of the franchise, as well as the artistic quality of the Marvel adaptation of the film.

The 1977 comic book adaptation of the original Star Wars film, which inaugurated Marvel’s memorable ongoing series, is a truly wonderful artistic achievement, with no better example than the explosion of the Death Star at the climax of the story, which is rendered with legitimate beauty, in both its artwork, and the accompanying prose.

Star Wars #6 – written by Roy Thomas, with art by Howard Chaykin, ink by Rick Hoberg & Bill Wray, lettering by Carol Lay & Michael Royer, color by Paty Cockrum – concluded Marvel’s adaptation of Star Wars, the sensational blockbuster film released in May 1977.

The first issue of Marvel’s Star Wars notably debuted a month ahead of the film, in April, helping to build anticipation for the space opera to hit screens. However, it was the sixth issue that contained its most stellar artwork, cementing it as an unforgettable adaptation of the seminal story.


“Star Wars Single-Handedly Saved Marvel”: Marvel Only Still Exists Because It Backed Star Wars in 1977

According to comments made by editor Jim Shooter in an interview from 2000, Marvel’s early line of Star Wars comics changed the company’s fate.

Thomas, Chaykin, & Co. Made The Death Star Explosion Startlingly Powerful

Of its own accord, the explosion of the Death Star is one of many iconic shots from Star Wars (1977). That said, Marvel’s Star Wars surpassed this with the depiction of the Imperial battle station’s destruction in Star Wars #6. The explosion occupies a whole page, radiating outward from dead-center, in a perfectly symmetrical pattern of light. The art throughout Marvel’s Star Wars adaptation is unquestionably gorgeous, but the Death Star’s destruction is next-level in its startling expression of the depth of space along with the brilliance of the blast.

As Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing swoops away from the explosion, its engine adding a swoop of red-orange-yellow to the page, the incredible visual is accentuated with an equally moving narration. It begins:

“Then, without warning — the eternal night of space becomes, for a few seconds, the brightness of day!”

The narration explains that the explosion is so bright, it cannot not be looked at directly, as debris from the station was “propelled past the retreating ships by the liberated energy of a small artifical sun.” The page closes by declaring the burning wreckage of the Death Star, “the most impressive tombstone in this corner of the cosmos.”

Marvel’s Star Wars Was Instrumental In Turning Star Wars Into An Enduring Franchise

At the start of the issue, the title page for Star Wars #6 features the inversion of this moment, with the attacking Rebel X-Wings racing in toward the still-looming Death Star. Notably, the story is introduced as: Stan Lee Presents Star Wars, The Greatest Space Fantasy of All. Marvel’s Star Wars would continue beyond its adaptation of the original film, telling what would ultimately become the earliest, foundational Expanded Universe stories. This kept the franchise in the popular consciousness in the three years before Empire Strikes Back arrived on-screen in 1980.

Marvel was pivotal in the formative growth of Star Wars into the sprawling franchise it became, and the success of the company’s acclaimed adaptation of the movie was essential to the process. Roy Thomas, Howard Chaykin, and the rest of the creative team on Star Wars #6, and the preceding issues of the Marvel series, deserve an incredible amount of respect and recognition from fans for helping to make Star Wars what it is today, and for elevating their take on the story, delivering some truly beautiful art in the process.

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