Synopsis: In the aftermath of Aquilae's attack on the Empire's Space Fortress, Jedi-Bendu General Luke Skywalker attempts to escape the conquered world with his apprentice Annikin Starkiller and Princess Leia. Meanwhile, construction droids See Threepio and Artwo Detwo, having escaped the Space Fortress during the battle, begin their own adventure on Aquilae.
There's a storytelling balance vital to telling a story truly worthy of the name Star Wars. This balance requires just the right amount of action, adventure, character, and plot. Too little of one and it falls flat. Too much of one and it feels forced.
Issue #3 of The Star Wars spends most of its time jumping back and forth between those extremes. While it's not necessarily bad, it never manages to strike the right balance between plot development and character building that's needed to drive the story forward in an engaging way.
With the battle against the Empire's Space Fortress ending in a resounding defeat for Aquilae and Imperial forces invading their world, the invigorating sense of urgency that so effectively carried the previous issue should have continued in this one. Instead, the central characters meander from one plot point to another in a methodical way that never quite succeeds at conveying that they realize how much more desperate their situation is becoming.
While my opinion of The Star Wars' third issue isn't the best, I'm still mindful that this is a single story being released in eight chapters. Just as every movie has slower moments of necessary exposition, every chapter of this story isn't going to be as enthralling as the attack on the Space Fortress. But that doesn't mean that the exposition has to feel as forced, or the characters as flat, as in this issue.
I really hope that the remaining chapters of The Star Wars that aren't built around a large action sequence can make better use of the unique opportunity this adaptation presents. Create separate but equally memorable versions of classic characters and make me care about them. Give me a reason to invest in their story and stay invested until the end. Aside from Kane Starkiller and Luke Skywalker, none of these characters transcend their statuses as rough draft versions of better characters.
The Star Wars works best when it embraces its own identity and sticks to telling its own story. It should stay away from shoehorning in direct lines and references from the films unless they organically fit into the context of the story. Doing so serves no purpose and appears to be there only to remind us that this is where Star Wars came from. Removing that kind of fan service and allowing the story to stand on its own would strengthen its integrity and justify it as a truly relevant addition the Star Wars pantheon.
My criticisms aside, I still believe The Star Wars is a worthwhile read. Once you're able to read the entire story in one sitting, it's very possible that what didn't work in this issue will no longer be a problem. Mike Mayhew's art continues to impress, and I have a lot of respect for J.W. Rinzler as a writer.
My only hope is that next month's issue overcomes the limitations I spoke of earlier to deliver the best version of The Star Wars possible.
Rating: 2 Out Of 5
TFN Review: The Star Wars #0
TFN Interview: Dark Horse Comics' The Star Wars Artist Mike Mayhew
TFN Review: The Star Wars #4 by J.W. Rinzler
TFN Review: Star Wars Art: Concept by Lucasfilm Ltd. (Foreword by Joe Johnston)
TFN Review: Star Wars #2 by Dark Horse Comics