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Most comic fans know the lull of the middle chapter. Ever since the shift to “writing for the trade” in comic books, which segments stories into four or five-issue arcs, there is often a pattern in the flow of the story: start strong and have a big climax with some up and down stuff in the middle. Those downs can sometimes make you wonder why you read. Star Wars #10 suffers a bit from the middle-issue syndrome, but it’s carried enough by good characterization and strong art to make it still a solid issue.
The problem that happens often in uninspiring middle-arc issues is that they need to get from point A to B swiftly, and so plots are advanced while nothing all that major happens. Unfortunately, that’s somewhat the case in Star Wars #10. The story offers three plots: 1) Luke, captured on Nar Shaddaa, is being trained to fight in a death match for a Hutt named Grakkus; 2) Leia, Han and his supposed wife Sana are fleeing the Empire; and 3) Chewbacca and C-3PO have gone in search of Luke. The issue puts all three plots on a collision course once Leia, Han and Sana head to Nar Shaddaa. So in many ways this is a set-up issue where nothing all that exciting happens.
That doesn’t mean the issue does not have its strong features. The “odd couple” scenes with Chewbacca and C-3PO are pretty fun and funny. Writer Jason Aaron actually gets down C-3PO’s fussy, over-polite speech very well, and it’s the interaction between the droid and a no-nonsense Chewie, especially when they enter a cantina, that gives these scenes a vitality along with strong characterization. Another positive is the introduction of the Gamemaster, a Hutt employ who is training Luke for his fight, while also giving him perspective on the fate of the near-extinct Jedi in the universe.
As it has been since Stuart Immonen began work on Star Wars, the art is really great as well. Immomen’s pencils are versatile so that he can draw a space chase as well as a funny exchange between a C-3PO and Chewbacca. However, Immonen’s art doesn’t become too pretty and static the way some excellent comic draftpersons can be. His storytelling is fluid in Star Wars #10, though Aaron doesn’t give him material as good as previous issues.
Another complaint I have with Star Wars #10 is that Aaron is really dragging out the mystery behind Sana Solo. She claims repeatedly that she is Han’s wife and he denies it. This has been going on for three issues now, and it’s one-note and frustrating. This is one of those moments when a creator is trying to string out some suspense when it’s not warranted. Just reveal if she is or isn’t Han’s wife and the backstory, then move on. The “is she or isn’t she” question isn’t interesting enough to stretch over this many issues.
As far as middle issues go, Star Wars #10 is not bad. It’s a nice read with some funny moments and quality art. However, it’s also a little bland in its efforts to get to the next stage of the plot, which means it’s a wasted opportunity to do something more interesting. If you’re reading Star Wars from Marvel Comics, you’ll probably get Star Wars #10, but you could also skip this issue altogether without missing too much.