The second wave of Star Wars titles has begun from Marvel, and like Poe Dameron, this Han Solo adventure may reflect the influence of the Force Awakens. Though set at end of the first trilogy, due to the movie’s granting of Harrison Ford’s longstanding wish for the character, we may be primed for just this sort of nostalgic adventure. These are the earlier days when our hero was still young, before he and Leia admitted their love, before the impending tragedies involving their children.
So since it’s old school Solo we’re getting, of course we begin in a cantina/bar, a thrilling black market of alien smugglers, with Han offering his best bluster amidst all the furtive deals underway. With Mark Brooks, we have a lot of visual clarity and detail, a decent attempt at Ford’s likeness (his features prove a challenge for many of the variant cover artists as well) that at least keeps him clear from the all the more colorful characters, and an intrigue underway as he’s noticed he’s being followed from planet to planet.
The not-so-stealthy pursuers finally make their agenda clear; they’re actually rebels sent by Princess Leia, in her usually authoritative but abrasive way of acquiring Han’s services. This prompts a return flight to Her Highness, where the predictable acrimony results in Han taking the job (of course, or no series) with a new twist. Using the Falcon, he’s to enter a major galactic race competition, the Dragon Void. The race, in excellent plot device tradition, requires three refueling stops on three different planets and all of it a ruse (says Leia) for Han to rescue Rebellion informants who’ve completed their missions, but may have been compromised by a mole.
Han and Chewie enter the race, and find that they are outclassed by the wealthy participants, except for the most successful and oldest one, Lo Ree Anno, who herself was once an outlier to the event but now garners great respect. She flies (you guessed it) solo. Not too many surprises in this narrative, but lots of local color and immersion in the larger Star Wars universe. Liu has set herself up a solid formula that seems ready to give each issue a splashy show-piece or two. Brooks excels at humans and aliens, and the whole seems designed to give us a fun ride with the Han we know and love best.