In Review: Han Solo #2

A fun read that would have been better had several computer blurs not marred the visuals.

The covers: A foursome to find for this second issue focusing on the Falcon’s owner. The Regular cover is by Lee Bermejo. This is a classic image of Han from the first Star Wars film (you know, pre-episode numbering?). Han holds his pistol up after finishing a typical negotiating session in a cantina, with his opposite leaning onto a table, never to move again. The illustration is good, the coloring excellent (giving it a sinister, secretive tone), though if the pistol had been smoking and there been a burn mark smoldering on the victim’s back would have made this better, increasing Han’s cool factor. The Variant cover is by Tula Lotay. This is a different scene from the same location. Han is leaning against a bar, behind him a wanted poster of himself. A female eyes him up flirtatiously, looking somewhat like one of the Tonnika sisters. There’s an artistic film placed over parts of the image: it’s composed of blue streaks at the bottom and blue florescent blobs at the top. I can’t tell it this is supposed to be atmospheric lighting for the setting, but it’s really a distraction. The Millennium Falcon Variant is by Mike Allred and it has an incredibly detailed version of this iconic ship shooting out a swirl that resembles a 1960’s black hole. This is a great cover, with the ship looking outstanding and the coloring slick. The final cover is the Movie variant. This features a photograph of Harrison Ford as Han, crouched over with his pistol up, defending his ship. I love this image so much I made it the picture that accompanies this review. Overall grades: Regular A-, Variant C+, Falcon Variant A, and Movie Variant A+

The story: The second chapter of Marjorie Liu’s story opens right where the last issue left off: Han Solo and Chewie in the Millennium Falcon just starting the Dragon Void race and falling under fire from mines. The race announcer brings readers up to speed with the carnage before the point of view moves into a few characters’ ships: Delan Vook is “vexed,” Sotna and Nowk seem to be faltering under the fire, while Loo Re Anno has turned off her engines and floating essentially dead in space, though left unharmed by the flying mines. Han yells for more power from his wookie co-pilot because “these things are faster than TIE fighters.” As they make an evasive move, Delan Vook speeds past the Falcon, only to turn around and start firing upon the mines, taking out several but also hitting the Falcon. This doesn’t sit well with Han who decides to fly full throttle, clipping the man’s ship. More mines appear to fire upon the Corellian until he finally figures out a way to evade them. This was a clever turn of events from Liu. The first leg of the race over, Han decides to have words with Delan Vook, but a timely intervention from another racer has him change his mind, but the seeds have been sown for distention among the participants. Before he can leave the tarmac, Solo receives a warning that may be too late. The story then takes a welcome surprising turn with Chewbacca getting a side mission involving two familiar races. Of course things don’t go easily for Chewie. The final three pages return to Solo, who’s gotten into trouble, though the final page spins things in an entirely new direction. I was afraid this series was going to be nothing but a series of space shots with Han competing in the race, but, thankfully, Liu hasn’t done that. She has the race start the issue, but it ends fairly quickly and then the each hero has his own adventure. This was fun reading with Han showing himself to be more than the shallow pirate people think him to be. Overall grade: B+ 

The art: The visuals on this book are the main selling point of this series. Mark Brooks is doing incredible work on this title. However, he or the editor, Jordan D. White, elected to go with a computer blurring during some of the race’s panels to give a speed effect to the proceedings. This is completely unnecessary and an absolute disservice to the art. The first page is a full paged splash showing the Falcon being chased by those killer mines as explosions are going off all around it. Several elements have been blurred to make it seem like they’re going “extra” fast, I suppose, but Brooks’s art is so good, this is unnecessary. If anything, those elements with that effect draw unnecessary attention. With a turn of the page, the deadly pursuit continues, but there are no blurring effects employed, save one panel…and the visuals look just fine. In fact, the panel with the blur effect, the third panel on Page 2, looks as though a misprint has occurred there. This effect returns substantially on 4 and 5, and it’s awful. Brooks has created sensational art, there’s absolutely no need to have it tweaked to increase the speed. When the race is over the visuals look considerably better. The fourth panel on Page 9 is a great way to visual tell the reader what Han’s plans are. The smuggler’s confrontation with one racer on 10 is terrific. The alien that warns Han on 12 made me cheer: I love that alien and am glad to see the inclusion of this species in the comics. The individuals that confront Solo on 13 look terrific, and the lead up to their reveal is excellent. Another species that I was pleased to see was the female that speaks with Chewie on 14; again, this is the first appearance of this species since Marvel picked up the franchise and it has me hoping that this might foreshadow some future mentions of this race’s most infamous individual from the novels. The design of the character at the bottom of 16 looks as though Jan Duursema designed her, and I’m more than fine with that. The action that follows this character’s reveal again unnecessarily employs the blur effect. There are two strong action panels on the penultimate page with the characters reacting in an incredibly realistic manner. The final page is a nice turn of events shown with a full page splash. Exceptional visuals on this book when not being blurred. Overall grade: B

The colors: Sonia Oback’s colors complement the visuals superbly. The colors really make the explosions and engines powerful on the race sequences. The opening page’s colors stand out more than the visuals even, though they, too, have wrongly been blurred. The light orbs that hover about Loo Re Anno really take attention when they appear on the page and they rightfully highlight the characters that they are near. The interiors of the Falcon are really nice in this book; often they’re too dark in some books or overly bright, but Oback gives them just the right amount of light to make them real. Once on the ground, Oback uses violets and oranges for the backgrounds to make the characters stand out on the page and give an alien feel to the world. Pages 13 has a lot of dark colors, given the intensity of the situation, but Oback outlines several of the panels in colors to separate them and make their interior images really pop. The final page has some outstanding back lighting, making the individual speaking to Han almost god-like; an outstanding way to introduce this character. Oback is acing every page of this book. Overall grade: A

The letters: Announcer transmissions, dialogue and narration (the same font), sounds, wookie speech, and the tease for next issue are crafted by VC’s Joe Caramagna. I was glad to see that the announcer’s dialogue was differentiated from the dialogue not just with the balloon containing it, but with a slight change in the font. However, this doesn’t happen with the dialogue and narration, sadly. There are more sounds in this book than in most Star Wars books and as he’s shown in the past, Caramagna can do these outstandingly. Marvel, please let Caramagna do these more often in this franchise! Overall grade: A-

The final line: A fun read that would have been better had several computer blurs not marred the visuals. The episodes after the first leg of the race were very well done. I’m not a Han Solo fan, but I’m interested to see where this is going. Overall grade: B+

To find more information about Han Solo and other Star Wars comic books go to http://marvel.com/

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
2 Comments on this post.
  • Mark Brooks
    8 July 2016 at 10:58 pm -

    Thanks for the review Patrick and all the good words! I have to say I chuckled to myself about your gripe with the blur effects. I seemed to be knocked down to a B for them. Sonia(rightly so) got an A but the funny thing is that she was the one that did the blues, not me. I personally like them but of course art is subjective so I wouldn’t fault you for not being fan. For future reference, the Penciler generally only handles the linework and any effects(glows, hues, blurs) is handled by the colorist 9 times out of10. Hope that helps and thanks again!

  • Patrick Hayes
    9 July 2016 at 12:55 am -

    That’s news to me! I’ve always thought the artists add those in. My bad! Thank you for the info; I’ll keep that in mind for future reviews!

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