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After the previous issue served mostly as a bridge, Star Wars #11 kicks the action into gear, and we finally learn the truth behind Han Solo’s “marriage” to Sana Solo. Overall, it’s a good issue, one that moves things forward in terms of plot, and also introduces an old, lesser-known character in Star Wars lore. Writer Jason Aaron and artist Stuart Immonen work nicely together here, giving readers the type of excitement that Star Wars, at its best, creates. Warning, this review will contain SPOILERS.
Luke Skywalker, captured by a Jedi-obsessed Hutt named Grakkus, is set to square off in a death-match with a large monster named Kongo the Disemboweler. He tries numerous Jedi strategies, but he is clearly outmatched at this point. His trainer through Grakkus, The Gamesmaster, alerts his real bosses that the new Jedi will not last long. It turns out that it’s the Empire that Gamesmaster signals. Meanwhile, Chewbacca is engaged in battle with a bounty hunter named Dengar. After Dengar gets the drop on Chewie, he rebounds for a fierce drag-out fight. Dengar is searching for Han Solo, who has a huge bounty on his head from Jabba. After Dengar bests the wookie, Chewie is saved when Han Solo arrives to take on Dengar.
It seemed that the action was going to increase in Star Wars #11 since so much of the previous issue was setting things in motion, so it’s nice that the action is pretty enjoyable. The battle between Luke and Kongo is pretty one-sided, but it shows that Luke had a learning curve before he was able to handle a similar monster when trapped by Jabba in Return of the Jedi. The fight between Chewbacca and Dengar is the type of drag-out fight that can get repetitive, but Immonen adds enough variation in the mechanics of the fight and enough momentum swings that it’s gripping. Denger beating Chewie – even if through weapons – is also an unexpected twist.
Many people who are not die-hard Star Wars fans may not remember the name Dengar, but he may look familiar if you grew up in the 1980s with the original toys from Kenner. Dengar was an action figure released for Empire Strikes Back. He was one of the bounty hunters called in by Darth Vader in that movie to hunt the Millennium Falcon. While he might be quite familiar to many “extended universe” fans, he’s not a household name for most casual Star Wars fans, so I think it’s interesting and pretty cool that Aaron is bringing him to the Star Wars comic book. On one hand, it’s a call-back to a character in Empire… after thirty years; but on the other hand, his appearance in this series actually predates Empire… in story chronology.
Immonen really carries off the action in these scenes very well. He’s one of those artists who may not have the most distinctive looking style, but he is very good at most elements of comic book art: facial expressions, action sequences, backgrounds, and storytelling. The inks and colors in this issue (by Wade Von Grawbadger and Justin Ponsor, respectively) also are very sharp and bold, standing out (in a good way) more than in previous issues.
The other element of note in Star Wars #11 is that we do finally learn the back-story of why Sana claims she is Han’s wife, and he says that she’s not. Apparently, it was a scam by Sana and Han to make some money. It’s unclear if they were actually married or just pretended to be, but it’s a rather underwhelming reveal to Sana’s claims on Han, considering it’s a plot thread that’s been going on for numerous issues. I’m not thrilled with Aaron’s use of Sana overall. So far, she feels little more than a plot device, but at least there isn’t too much of that storyline in this issue.
For the most part, the elements of Star Wars #11 cohere pretty well in this issue. Action is central to the story here, and those moments deliver on what was set up in the last issue. The surprise inclusion of Dengar is effective, even if the reader is unfamiliar with his role in the Star Wars universe. There is indication that The Empire, which hasn’t had a big part in the recent issues of Star Wars, will become a bigger player, as they are on their way to Grakkus’ stadium. Overall, Aaron and Immonen put together a pretty good comic in Star Wars #11.