Today saw the release of Marvel Comics’ new variant cover compilation Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – The 40th Anniversary Covers by Chris Sprouse, and below are my thoughts on this issue.
As we near the end of 2023, it’s almost time to say goodbye to the 40th anniversary of Return of the Jedi, and with that milestone comes the end of a year’s worth of variant comic-book covers by Marvel and DC artist Chris Sprouse (Black Panther, Thor, Dark Horse’s Star Wars: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye). Thankfully for those like myself who don’t necessarily collect variant covers as they are coming out, Marvel has collected all of these Return of the Jedi 40th anniversary covers into one special issue celebrating Sprouse’s art.
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – The 40th Anniversary Covers by Chris Sprouse is organized chronologically by the events of the 1983 film, starting with Darth Vader’s arrival on the second Death Star, moving on to Jabba’s Palace and Sail Barge on Tatooine, and then following through to the Rebel Alliance briefing and ultimately the Forest Moon of Endor. Through these covers, which first graced issues of Marvel’s Star Wars, Star Wars: Darth Vader, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, and Star Wars: Bounty Hunters comics, among others, we can see how truly skilled Sprouse is at capturing these moments that were already so thoroughly ingrained in our minds as fans.
Working with inker Karl Story (Star Wars: The Mandalorian) and colorists Neeraj Menon (Crypt of Shadows) and Rachelle Rosenberg (Gwen Stacy), Chris Sprouse conveys a sense of action, purpose, and character in each of these images, most of which I would happily hang framed on my wall if I could get them printed larger. Flipping through the pages of this one-shot is kind of like revisiting Return of the Jedi scene-by-scene through a different lens– one of an artist working at the top of his game to recapture some of the most memorable beats in movie history with kineticism and verve. If you are indeed like me and missed out on these covers the first time around, this is definitely a compilation you’re going to want to add to your collection.
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – The 40th Anniversary Covers by Chris Sprouse is available now wherever comic books are sold.