Star Wars Cover Art: The X-Wing Series

March 22, 2012 at 11:25 am | Posted in Art, Opinion, Regular Feature, Star Wars Books | Leave a comment
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The Star Wars Cover Art series is back! Next up, the X-Wing series by Michael A. Stackpole, Aaron Allston, and with cover art by Paul Youll and Mike Bryan.

The X-Wing series was the largest Star Wars book series in the Bantam era that wasn’t geared toward young adults. It consisted of the Roque Squadron books, the Wraith Squadron books, and then two stand alone novels: Isard’s Revenge and Starfighters of Adumar.

And it all began in 1996…

Rogue Squadron (published January 1, 1996)

Rogue Squadron was not only Michael A. Stackpole’s first Star Wars novel, but it was also the first published Star Wars novel to not feature any of the Big 3 (Luke, Han, and Leia). The book was partly based off the PC game Star Wars: X-wing which Stackpole played to get a feel for the books.

All of the cover art for the X-Wing series (excluding the upcoming Mercy Kill) was done by artist Paul Youll. As you can see below, Paul did a great job of combining details and colors to bring the dogfights to life.

Most of the foreign cover art for the entire series varies very little. There are some small color variations and the Russian cover uses a more sharply angled X-wing, but that’s about it. The Japanese covers, on the other hand, utilize some new artwork. It has a sort of Nintendo-era, video game feel to it with the slightly odd angles and purple explosion.

Wedge’s Gamble (May 2, 1996)

Wedge’s Gamble followed just five months on the heels of Rogue Squadron. This time around the artwork features a Lamdda-class shuttle as seen in Return of the Jedi. Below it there’s a glimpse of a A-wing starfighter. While the first cover was heavy on X-wings, this one leaned toward explosion at it certainly captures your attention.

The Japanese covers this time around featured a TIE fighter and a Star Destroyer, and a Lamda class shuttle. While the first one looks pretty good, the second one looks pretty bad. With the red, cartoonish explosion, it screams cheesy sci-fi.

The Krytos Trap (October 2, 1996)

In the Krytos Trap, the Alliance finally captures Coruscant. The artwork shows off a battle with a space station above Coruscant as well as some larger warships. The original artwork gives off a nice shot of Coruscant.

In my opinion, this is the first Japanese cover in the X-Wing series that really shines. It’s also the only one to feature a Y-wing and I think it works pretty well.


The other Japanese cover isn’t too bad either and showcases some ground combat for a change.

Bacta War (February 6, 1997)

The cover for The Bacta War goes back to the Rogue Squadron style with heavy X-wing and Star Destroyer action. This cover has a lot more going on though, and really screams action. Wookieepedia had a surprising shot of the sketch art for this book which you can see below.

The before and after with the colors is stunning.

And here are the Japanese covers. From what I found, these appear to be the last Japanese covers for the series.


Wraith Squadron (February 2, 1998)

Wraith Squadron was Aaron Allston’s first Star Wars novel. Unlike the Rogues, the Wraiths are a group of misfit pilots with some valuable talents. The artwork on the cover really shines in the original print with the moonscape giving it a very sci-fi feel.

Iron Fist (July 6, 1998)

Iron Fist‘s cover is notable in that there are no X-wings on the cover. Up until this point, all of the covers in the series had featured X-wings (excluding the Japanese covers). With the exception of the three moons, it looks a lot like Endor. It’s a shame the lead TIE’s wing tips are cut off, but otherwise it’s a nice piece.

Solo Command (February 2, 1999)

Solo Command wrapped up the Wraith arc of the X-Wing series (or so it seemed) and had them join forces with Han Solo to take out Warlord Zsinj. When Aaron inherited the X-Wing series, he asked Stackpole where he should start. Mike told him “Well, Zsinj needs killing.” However, Zsinj did not meet his fateful end in this book. The wily warlord was killed years early in The Courtship of Princess Leia.

Isard’s Revenge (April 13, 1999)

Isard’s Revenge overlaps with Timothy Zahn’s The Last Command and ties in with the X-Wing: Rogue Squadron comics. This was also Stackpole’s last X-Wing book. Having already covered Endor and Return of the Jedi, Paul Youll took on a Hoth look for the Isard’s cover.

Starfighters of Adumar (August 3, 1999)

Starfighters of Adumar was the final Star Wars book under Bantam before switching to Del Rey, and for X-Wing fans, this seemed like the last book we were ever going to get. It served as a self-contained, stand alone novel packed with humor and in the opinions of many fans, it’s one of the best Star Wars books ever written.

The cover has an interesting look that feels a bit more realistic than the others when it comes to the X-wings. However, I have to admit the hangar background is probably the dullest of the entire series, so it’s a little hit and miss.

Mercy Kill (August 7, 2012)

The announcement of Mercy Kill proved that the X-Wing series isn’t dead yet. It will be the tenth book in the X-Wing series. Unlike all the previous ones, this book will be released in hardcover. This will also be the first book in the series with cover art not done by Paul Youll. Instead, the cover was done by Mike Bryan. I really like the vibrancy of the colors and it’s nice to finally get an E-wing on a book. While part of me wishes Paul could have wrapped up the series with another spectacular cover, I have to admit Mike did a good job. The iconic image of an X-wing in combat is sure to grab some attention from book buyers and perhaps the mystery of a new looking ship like the E-wing will be enough to draw in their curiosity.

Posted By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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