HAN SOLO #1
Written by Marjorie Liu
Art by Mark Brooks, Sonia Oback, Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: June 15, 2016
Among the possible Star Wars comic book spinoff series, Han Solo #1 might be the most anticipated. After all, for as large a fanbase as the Corellian smuggler has, the quantity of solo (no pun intended) tales starring Han Solo are still in the single digits. A handful of (debatably still relevant) novels and expectations for a solo film in the Star Wars anthology series, Han Solo has a potentially grandiose past that has never been mined.
Writer Marjorie Liu and artist Mark Brooks aim to change that with Han Solo #1, which falls after Star Wars (what anyone born after 1990 calls A New Hope) and before The Empire Strikes Back, but dodges and weaves around Jason Aaron’s current Star Wars series. Fast and loose is the way to play the adventures of Han Solo, especially when it comes to burgeoning continuity.
This comic opens with the readers milling around in Han Solo’s thoughts as he tries to figure out his current status and apparent ambivalence towards scoring his next job. The self-reflection occurs in a bar, which, naturally leads to a confrontation, and eventually to his job. Through that confluence of events, Liu gives readers a recognizable, but somewhat slender, foundation for the smuggler. The writer also distinguishes this story as a Solo adventure, not a collaborative effort with the leaders of the Rebellion that Han Solo is most frequently associated with. Liu provides some additional familiarity, chipping away at Han’s ambivalence as the story goes on. She gives readers a bit of a the courageous impetus that propelled Han to return to the Battle of Yavin, but stops short of fully restoring the pilot’s braggadocio.
Brooks matches the hesitancy present in Liu’s scripting of Han Solo, casting Solo’s gaze away from the viewer throughout Han Solo #1. Many times his eyes are pointed towards the ground, and when his confidence does begin to coalesce, the readers are set to recognize the pilot they met in George Lucas’ first Star Wars adventure. Colorist Sonia Oback constructs sets, stages lighting, and finishes the framing of each scene, as much adding the brown to Han’s hair as inserting depth of field to the galaxy stretching out beyond the Millennium Falcon. The story would be complete and coherent without Oback, but the worlds come together more completely with her colors and effects applied. Letterer Joe Caramagna distinguishes Wookiee vocalization from droid computation, growl from greeting and does so in a manner that fully accommodates Brooks’ and Oback’s art.
More familiarly known as a cover artist, Brooks packs a lot of detail into every panel, inviting readers into the worlds of Star Wars by doing so. I’m not familiar with his process, but I’m sure while Brooks constructs the panels with the flow of the page in mind, I would not be at all surprised to learn that each panel is its own piece. The panel of Adame, Selentia, and Han walking away from the bar has enough detail and background figures in it that it would undoubtedly make George Pérez take a closer look in scrutinizing appreciation. Brooks gives readers enough familiar species to insert this comic definitively in the Star Wars universe, but he doesn’t ever slavishly over-render anything in the comic, carefully weighing out each line to communicate essence and intent.
With twenty pages of new adventure for Han Solo and Chewbacca, Han Solo #1 gives readers a fun introduction to the activities of everyone’s favorite Corellian when he’s not fighting alongside Luke and Leia. This is a solid comic, as most of the Star Wars line has been since Marvel reclaimed it, and Marjorie Liu is establishing a fun new adventure with grand potential. Like most of the Star Wars comics, there is inherent comfort and familiarity, seeded with doubt, uncertainty, and adventure, as it seems most anything could happen to Han Solo when the next issue exits hyperspace.
The Verdict: 8.5/10