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'Star Wars: Han Solo & Chewbacca Vol. 1: The Crystal Run Part One' makes me want Solo 2 more than ever

Comic Books

‘Star Wars: Han Solo & Chewbacca Vol. 1: The Crystal Run Part One’ makes me want Solo 2 more than ever

Showcasing why Han Solo, at any age, is such an endearing character — and why we need more Han Solo-led stories.

One of the biggest tragedies to befall Star Wars in recent years is the despicable mistreatment of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Though fan sentiments towards the second and final Star Wars anthology film have turned more positive in recent years, the initial lukewarm response to the film killed any chances of a sequel. Thankfully, we are at least getting more adventures featuring a young Han Solo and Chewbacca in Han Solo & Chewbacca: The Crystal Run Part One. In this five-issue arc, writer Marc Guggeheim and artist David Messina craft a fun space caper that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s time for more Han Solo-led Star Wars stories.

It could be argued, even, that this new comic series picks up right where Solo leaves off, with Han and Chewie finishing up a job for Jabba the Hutt before signing up for another. From the very first panel, I was enamored by Messina’s ability to both capture the Star Wars aesthetic and the likeness of the iconic titular characters while still adding his own personal style. This isn’t the photo-realistic art you might see in other Star Wars comics, nor is it hyper-stylized like you might find in an indie book. Instead, it’s a little of a mix of both, capturing the look of a younger Han Solo and Chewbacca while still feeling distinctly comic-booky.

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Guggenheim also does a masterful job bringing Han Solo to life, absolutely nailing his mannerisms, expressions, attitude, planning, quick-thinking and general scoundrel personality. There are far too many instances of writers just including the words “pal” and “furball” into Han Solo word balloons and assuming that is enough to capture his voice, but Guggenheim’s scripts never fall prey to that. Instead, each conversation, quip, or remark feels quintessentially like Han Solo — actually, a young Han Solo specifically.

Whereas the Han we know in the Original Trilogy is more jaded and too cool to care, the younger Han Solo we see at the end of Solo is more cheery and bright-eyed. Guggenheim’s version of Solo seems like a natural progression of that young Han we all met at the end of Solo — he’s still more jokey than his older counterpart and cockier than ever, but this series begins to show how the life of a scoundrel is slowly transforming him into the man Luke meets in Mos Eisley. This Han Solo is a fun, endearing, and slowly-maturing iteration of the iconic smuggler that I wish we’d get a chance to see more of in live action..

Though Guggengheim and Messina do a great job bringing the characters and world of Star Wars to life in the panels of this comic, the narrative itself definitely takes a back seat. It’s not the story is bad – it’s merely a perfectly serviceable, by-the-books “job gone wrong” heist story that serves as a vehicle for the creators to explore these characters at a new point in their lives. There’s a “twist” in the first issue that is eventually revealed to be a red herring, but even that first-issue reveal never felt believable enough to make the red herring reversal impactful in any way, leaving the story itself to lack any real moments of surprise. It’s simple: what makes this comic enjoyable isn’t the story, but rather the focus on Han, Chewie, and the bevy of criminals and scoundrels they find themselves in company with.

Marvel Preview: Star Wars: Han Solo & Chewbacca #5

Marvel Comics

Where the narrative does succeed, however, is how it manages to tie into other Star Wars stories without feeling forced or awkward. There’s a moment that ties directly into Crimson Reign that is both a welcome surprise and a nice Easter egg for readers, an inclusion of a character from Star Wars: Bounty Hunters that gives readers a bit more insight into her past, and little tiny explanations for moments in the films that offer nice bits of Star Wars lore and context without being major revelations. In any shared universe it can be all too common for moments of reference to other stories to feel heavy-handed and a sign of unnecessary editorial synergy, so it is refreshing to see some referential moments that feel genuine and natural.

This trade paperback collection also includes the Star Wars: Life Day one-shot as an added bonus, though I’m not sure I can really call it a bonus. Remember how earlier I said some writers think they can capture Han’s voice by adding just a few key words and phrases and calling it a day? That is on full display throughout this special. While that might not be as noticeable had you read it on its own when it came out last holiday season, it’s particularly jarring given how well Guggenheim captures Han Solo in the preceding five issues. The Life Day one-shot will give you a handful of new Han Solo and Chewbacca adventures if you’re really itching for more, but they’re mostly forgettable and feature some questionable art.

The Life Day one-shot might not be the best way to end this trade, but the five issues of The Crystal Run Part One before it more than make up for it. Guggengheim and Messina expertly capture the vibes of a Han Solo story and really showcase what makes the character, even in his younger days, so endearing. Though the story may leave something to be desired, I’m just happy to spend more time with this scruffy lookin’ nerf herder and his big fuzzy best friend — especially when they’re brought to life so well.

Now, make Solo 2 happen already.

'Star Wars: Han Solo & Chewbacca Vol. 1: The Crystal Run Part One' makes me want Solo 2 more than ever
‘Star Wars: Han Solo & Chewbacca Vol. 1: The Crystal Run Part One’ makes me want Solo 2 more than ever
Star Wars: Han Solo & Chewbacca Vol. 1: The Crystal Run Part One
Despite a generic story, writer Marc Guggenheim and artists David Messina bring young Han Solo and Chewbacca from the screen to the page seamlessly, brilliantly capturing what makes the scruffy scoundrel duo so iconic with excellent characterizations for each.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Guggenheim's scripting of Han Solo could not be more spot on
Messina's art is the perfect mixture of stylistic and photorealistic, making this comic feel both distinct yet recognizably Star Wars at the same time
Nods and references to a variety of other Star Wars stories — both comics and movies — happen naturally and without feeling to heavy handed
The secondary characters that surround Han and Chewie are welcome additions to the Star Wars underground
The narrative takes a back seat here — it's a pretty by-the-numbers, generic story of a job gone wrong
The Star Wars: Life Day one-shot is an unnecessary inclusion that just showcases what a poorly written Han Solo looks like
8
Good
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