Not strictly a cannon question, but one just the same, which illustrations or paintings/ book covers featuring Luke Skywalker capture him the best? — Michelle
Well, limiting myself to canonical book covers only, I went through all the covers I could find, even investigating some reprints and foreign language editions, and came to my conclusions. There are 48 canonical books which take place after Luke’s introduction, and he is on 26 of them (pictured) (not including reprints and other editions), and I picked eight as best representations. It was actually challenging not just choosing my favorite covers or covers associated with books I really like (keep an eye out for upcoming book reviews BTW; that is going to be an ongoing project for me). It was worth it, though . . . here are the covers I think represent Luke best!
- STAR WARS: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker. (Hardcover.) The earliest Star Wars book, “written” by George Lucas and released in 1976, features a really great and classic cover. Luke, in white, conveys the naivete and hopefulness of his youth. Leia’s presence, and matching clothes, are somewhat telling given their relationship. The way Vader, in black armor, overshadows his son also has ominous tones. Clumsily wielding his lightsaber, Luke still seems ready to face it all.
- Return of the Jedi, by James Kahn. (1995 Time Warner Paperback.) A terrible adaptation of a great film, written by an idiot, this book nevertheless boasts some great covers. This isn’t my favorite ROTJ cover, but it is one that does some good things for Luke. His solemnity is well-expressed, and his juxtaposition between Vader and his friends is attractive. He now carries his lightsaber with confidence, and is also the most noticeable thing about the cover. He has definitely taken his place as the film’s hero.
- Dark Empire (Tom Veitch, paperback, 1993). This cover is really intriguing. (I would’ve done the one with the green lightsaber but couldn’t find a big enough version.) Luke, features intense, is wearing his father’s armor. The name of the book and that armor alone is enough to make any fan go, “Oh, crap!” when they see it. Interestingly enough, this is the only comic not only considered (by more people than just me) to be canon, it’s the only one mentioned in the novels. Another fun fact is that it was written and released about the same time as the original Thrawn trilogy, and while Dark Empire was supposed to take place before Heir to the Empire, Zahn’s refusal to reference elements of the comic caused them to set it afterward.
- Dark Empire II (Tom Veitch, paperback, 1995). I confess I have not gotten around to reading this one and am not positive if it has the same status as Dark Empire in the canon, but I will figure this out eventually. (Comics are so hard to read.) But this cover is really fascinating. Again, Serious Luke makes his appearance with a cluster of Jedi offsetting him. I like Luke in black; his somber attitude shows he is not old enough to have experienced everything he has.
- Children of the Jedi (Barbara Hambly, 1996). It’s interesting to me that some of the worst books have the best covers the Star Wars saga has to offer. I really hated this book. But this cover is really a work of art. Hesitant, or Vulnerable Luke is making a rare appearance; he seems unsure of what path to take or what to do next. As well he ought–this book is a bizarre conglomeration of too much stuff happening at once and pseudo realistic elements against a backdrop of disproven SW history. I had that look myself through most of this horrible novel.
- Planet of Twilight (Barbara Hambly, 1998). Ah, Ms. Hambly, we meet again. I like this book more than Children of the Jedi, but it’s still not very good. Again, the cover is practically a work of art, though. Check out Soft-Eyed Han in the front there! Luke is pretty much identical to his portrait on Dark Empire II, but I love this cover too much to pass up. He’s grim and determined, and more than a little sleepy.
- The New Rebellion (Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 1996). This cover is very well done. The title and the picture really makes the reader feel as though doom is at hand. Luke is looking young and old at the same time, a look he’s good at, and he’s wearing his “oh crap” look. (The book is less well done. Many elements border on ridiculous, and Luke is quite easily thinking, “Why the heck am I fighting giant pink soap bubbles?” The reader likely shares that sentiment, if not the facial expression.)
- Shield of Lies (Michael P. Kube-McDowell, 1996). If the quality of a novel was equal to the length of the writer’s name, well, The Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy would’ve been more memorable. However, this is a brilliant cover. Luke is all Jedi, all intensity, and wielding his lightsaber again. It really shows the stubbornly determined part of his personality, where he refuses to be kept down by anything.