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The new Star Wars series from writer Jason Aaron and artist John Cassaday started strong out of the gate with its first issues but the second one wasn’t nearly as effective, especially in the art department. However Star Wars #3 is more in keeping with the fun and excitement of the first issue. While Aaron and Cassaday are extending a first confrontation/battle in a decompression style, the characterization and strong action makes Star Wars #3 a good return to form.
When we last left the Rebel crew, who had attacked Cymoon-1 and run into some serious opposition from Darth Vader, they thought they were in the clear, that they had sabotaged the base to blow up and that Vader was dead or trapped. At the start of Star Wars #3, they find out that no, one does not simply kill Vader. Ol’ Darth rallies his troops and heads after Han, Leia, R2-D2 and some rescued aliens, all of whom are in a stolen AT-AT. Meanwhile, C3PO has been disassembled by some scavengers who are also intent on stripping the Millennium Falcon for parts. However, in this issue, Chewbacca returns and rescues C3PO in heroic Chewie fashion. It’s good timing, too, because Leia and an injured Han arrive to the Falcon after Vader systematically tore apart their AT-AT.
Meanwhile, Luke heads back to the base after finding out that the Empire’s forces, headed by Overseer Aggadeen, have managed to cool the temperature of the base, salvaging it. Not so fast, Aggie, as Luke manages to personally blow up the base and get Aggadeen decapitated by a pursuing Vader. The narrowly-accomplished destruction is is a nice callback, both literal and symbolic, to Luke’s role destroying the Death Star in the Battle at Yavin (in the original Star Wars movie).
Star Wars #3 returns the series to the sense of fun and action that was present in the original trilogy and hinted at in the first issue. Aaron and Cassaday have neatly presented a lot of action and plot advancement in this issue, so it feels satisfying. However, plot advancement is relative. The issue is still concerned with the battle that begun in issue #1. So decompression is clearly happening in this latest Star Wars. At times, I can’t help but think that this confrontation would have begun and ended within part of one issue of the original Marvel Star Wars comic book. However, drawn-out action is the standard these days, and this issue does show why that can work, as we get more detail and dialog in the scenes.
I though Cassaday’s art in issue #2 looked rushed and odd at times. That is less of problem in Star Wars #3. The art doesn’t quite reach the beautiful backgrounds and spreads of the first issue of the series, but that’s not really a problem because this is a different kind of issue, more concerned with battles and chases (in other words, moving action rather than slow, big moments). Cassaday is pretty strong at those chases and motion-based action sequences in this issue, giving a palpable sense of movement and quickness while also establishing the clarity of what’s happening from panel to panel.
It’s good to see that Star Wars is building on action and enjoyable character dynamics, not getting too heavy in the process. However, I do worry that it’s taking a long time (in terms of issues) to get through this first confrontation. I hope that not every major movement takes as many issues to work through or this could be a very slow moving series. Aaron has done good work on big titles (Thor, for one), so I have a feeling that this will ultimately get into a stronger rhythm. However, as a single issue, Star Wars #3 is a fine comic book, giving the series some momentum again.