Today’s the day. Fans around the world will be heading down to cinemas to see the latest on-screen instalment to the Star Wars universe, Solo: A Star Wars Story. Returning to its roots Solo promises us a headlong adventure, packed with daring escapes, dangerous criminals, high-speed chases, and of course, the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. But before the movie had even been announced Marvel offered us Star Wars: Han Solo, a five issue mini-series that hit the stands back in 2016. Now, just in time for the film’s release, Han Solo has got its first hardback, complete with the Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon arc from Marvel’s flagship Star Wars series. Maybe you never got a chance to read the comic, or maybe the movie has left you wanting more, Han Solo delivers, and there couldn’t be a better time to pick it up.
The premise of the mini-series grabs you from the start – on a special mission for Princess Leia, Han must enter the most dangerous race in the galaxy: the Dragon Void – a lethal space tourney spanning three systems that makes the Kessel Run look like a cakewalk. But Han doesn’t just have to survive the race. Instead, on each planetary pit stop, he must extract a Rebel informant, each part of a collective of spies who are suddenly and mysteriously being killed off by an unknown assailant. The plot thickens when Han learns that the killer can only be one of the spies themselves, his passengers become suspects, and Solo must solve a deadly who-dunnit while simultaneously navigating shifting debris fields, killer space drones, and of course inevitable Imperial entanglements.
Overflowing in high-stakes and packed with plenty of players, if Han Solo recounts a race it writes like one too, from the moment of the word “go” the series kicks into fifth gear and doesn’t let up. Han Solo is as it should be, in constant motion, and in no small part to Mark Brook’s excellent illustrations, which capture the intensity and velocity of the race as the Falcon is truly put through its paces. While on-board the ship each passenger Han picks up throws in a new dynamic, and a new obstacle, potentially as deadly and as difficult to navigate as those on the other side of the viewport.
But even in the midst of Han’s odds-defying flying, run-ins with the Empire, and Rebel spy drama, it was great to see the series still find time to dig deep into Han’s character – picking up where A New Hope left off, with Han’s allegiance to Rebellion still fresh, untested, and not yet solidified. Here Han grapples with what he seeks both as a pilot and as a person, as completing the mission and winning the race find themselves desperately at odds, plus see the first sparks of romance between himself and Leia.
And if that weren’t enough the new edition comes with a stand-out arc from the main Star Wars comic series as well, where in Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon Han encounters the woman who claims to be his wife, Sana Solo; Luke squares off against a Kongo the Disemboweler plus the lightsaber-wielding Gamemaster; and we are first introduced to the massively muscular, cybernetic spider-walking Grakkus the Hutt.
Fans of the space cowboy who missed the original run should not hesitate in picking this up, but for anyone looking for a space-adventure done in classic Star Wars style, Han Solo is well worth a read. Punch it.
Star Wars: Han Solo is out now from Marvel (9781302912109, h/b, £20.99)