Despite a disappointing box office performance resulting in millions of dollars in lost revenue for Disney, Solo: A Star Wars Story still received high marks from critics and fans alike, leaving many wondering if there’d ever be more stories about young Han Solo’s life. While all plans for future standalone films have been reportedly halted by Disney, a new Han Solo adventure from the days of his youth kicks off this week in the form of Han Solo- Imperial Cadet #1, which looks to show fans what Han’s short lived career in the Imperial Navy looked like. Unfortunately, this debut issue ultimately crashes and burns, offering almost nothing new to the allure of Han Solo while even undermining the totalitarian theme of the Empire.
Literally half of this first issue is spent recapping the events of Solo: A Star Wars Story. In fact, three pages are lifted word for word, shot for shot from the film itself. This replication of the film that preceded the series is just unnecessary- diehard Star Wars fans read Star Wars comics, they’ve certainly seen the film and don’t need a reminder of what happened.
It’d be one thing if the pages that weren’t lifted straight from the film were particularly memorable or felt like a natural extension of the movie, but even that isn’t the case. The few new scenes that are included in the book’s opening half are filled with bright colors that contradict the dreary Corellian landscape seen on screen alongside awkwardly paced moments of action that never really flow together well. Even the characters, from their design to their dialogue, don’t feel right. The dialogue just feels a forced (especially one reference to Han’s dice) and not truly like Han, while the character designs don’t do the characters much justice.
Once the book finally moves past the hammed Solo adaptation, it does a fantastic job showing just how poorly young Han Solo fit into the Empire’s mold. Han is constantly questioning his orders, the point of his training, and the seemingly unnecessary rituals that accompany Imperial training. Even though this is executed well, however, it still presents nothing new to Han Solo’s lore. Nothing here adds to his legendary status and his general disposition to the Imperial lifestyle can easily be surmised by simply watching any Star Wars movie he appears in.
Perhaps the worst part of this book is how it manages to completely undermine the ruthlessness of the Empire by the time it concludes. By the end of this issue, Han has stolen a TIE Fighter, completely destroying three more and their pilots along the way- yet he still remains in the Imperial Navy. How does that make sense?
This is the Imperial Navy of the mighty Galactic Empire, the same Empire who enslaves its inhabitants and feeds military deserters to chained beasts. How are readers supposed to believe this ruthless machine is going to allow an already problematic cadet to live, let alone continue to serve, after killing three pilots in an escape attempt? Han Solo at least lasts long enough to fight on Mimban in the film, so he clearly doesn’t get kicked out of the Imperial services yet, but doesn’t that make the Empire seem… soft? Like so many facets of this issue, this completely stands in contrast to the world fans know from the films.
Being a massive fan of Solo: A Star Wars Story, I was very excited to see what this new mini-series was going to add to the lore of one of my all time favorite characters. Han Solo- Imperial Cadet #1 ultimately fails to deliver in nearly every way, neither capturing the feel of Star Wars or adding anything new to Han’s story.
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