Friday, December 18, 2015

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 352: Il-Lumiya-tion: In Praise of Cynthia Martin

I apologize for the sheer number of panels from a later issue of the original Marvel Star Wars series, and know that I'm fatefully tempting a cease-and-desist from Marvel, Disney, or most scary of all, George Lucas himself, but I can't let this year go by without spotlighting one of the greatest comic book fight sequences in nearly forty years of Star Wars, by a penciller who hasn't drawn a lot in the comics field but who remains one of my all-time favorite artists: Cynthia Martin. Issue #95 gives us the set-up by introducing the Sith Lady Lumiya (a.k.a. former rebel Pilot and Luke Skywalker girlfriend Shira Brae) in a stunning visual character design:

Splash page of Star Wars (1977 Marvel series) #95 (May 1985), script by Jo Duffy, pencils by Cynthia Martin, inks by Steve Leialoha, colors by Glynis Oliver, letters by Rick Parker

The end of issue #95 sets up the first moments of the monumental battle of lightsaber vs. lightwhip (now that's more visually exciting than a two-pronged lightsaber, huh?):

But it's in issue #96...

Cover of Star Wars #96 (June 1985), pencils and inks by Cynthia Martin

...that the opening moments of the full-out duel is retold, and continues across several dialogueless pages. Here's the full epic sequence.

Panels from Star Wars #96 (June 1985), script by Jo Duffy, pencils by Cynthia Martin, inks by Bob Wiacek, colors by Glynis Oliver, letters by Rick Parker

And. Luke. Lost.

Marvel's Star Wars ended a few months later with issue #107, and sadly Cynthia Martin was never a regular again on a comic series. Since then she's drawn assorted pin-ups and Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and Who's Who pages...

Top left: pin-up from Web of Spider-Man Annual #4 (1988); pencils and inks by Cynthia Martin
Top right: "Rogue" from Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Deluxe Edition #11 (October 1986); text by Mark Gruenwald, Peter Sanderson, and Steve Saffel; pencils by Cynthia Martin; inks by Joe Rubinstein and James Fry; colors by Andy Yanchus
Bottom: "Vulcans" from Who's Who in Star Trek #2 (April 1987); script by Allan Asherman, pencils and inks by Cynthia Martin, colors by Michele Wolfman
(Click picture to Vulcanize)

...a handful of Spider-Man and Wonder Woman stories...

Left: panels from Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #133 (December 1987); script by Ann Nocenti, pencils by Cynthia Martin, inks by Joe Rubinstein, colors by Janet Jackson, letters by Rick Parker
Right: Wonder Woman (1987 series) #52 (March 1991); script by George Perez, pencils by Cynthia Martin, inks by Kevin Nowlan, colors by Tom Ziuko, letters by John Costanza
(Click picture to strangle-size)

...inks over George Perez's pencils for War of the Gods (not shown), the Poison serial in Marvel Comics Presents #60-67, and most recently, early issues of the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle.

Left: panels from the Poison story "Vandals of the Heart, Chapter One: Hate Dancer" in Marvel Comics Presents (1988 series) #60 (October 1990); script by Steve Gerber, pencils and inks by Cynthia Martin, colors by Chris Ivy, letters by Tim Harkins
Right: Blue Beetle (2006 series) #3 (July 2006); script by Keith Giffen and John Rogers, pencils by Cynthia Martin, inks by Phil Moy, colors by David Self, letters by Phil Balsman
(Click picture to stiletto-heel-size)

The eighties was a time of huge creative expansion for mainstream comics with the superstardom of creators like Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Bill Sienkiewicz, Charles Vess, John Romita Jr., and many more. But if I had to pick my favorite new artist of the eighties, my little stuffed red satin heart still points to Cynthia Martin, who, on its last march through the galaxy, made Star Wars into a bright, sharp, dynamic visual treat. I wish you'd drawn more in comics, Ms. Martin, but what we've got is gorgeous and vital. May the Force be with you, Cynthia!

Cover of Star Wars #107 (July 1986), pencils by Cynthia Martin, inks by Joe Rubinstein


Blam said...

I enjoyed her clean lines and design sense. Didn't even remember she'd done those couple of early Jaime Reyes Beetles! Good stuff, of which there's too little, I agree.

grandpaboy said...

I remember the Star Wars stories and that Rogue pin-up. Beautiful work.

googum said...

I don't know if I appreciated her enough at the time, but man, I love this issue.