In Review: Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #2

Two issues in and I want all involved with this book on the monthly adventures of young Han Solo.

The covers: Just a pair of covers to get if you’re a fan of the galaxy’s most famous Corellian. Regular David Nakayama is the artist of the Regular cover which shows Han behind bars, looking at the reader as if knowing that the prisoner behind him is about to bash his head in. Great likeness by Nakayama of actor Alden Ehrenreich, with the look on his face perfection. I love this cover. The Variant cover is by Marcos Martin and features an incredible action scene of Han trying to enter a falling TIE Fighter. As the vehicle looks to plummeting  to certain doom the suicidal smuggler-to-be has popped the canopy open and is trying to gain entrance, while someone is trying to blow him out of the sky, as shown by the barrage of green laser blasts screaming around him. Great action that shows an impossible feat that only Han could accomplish. The violet background makes the green fire look great, but the TIE’s coloring makes it blob up. Overall grades: Regular A+ and Variant B

The story: The Regular cover shows the reader how this chapter begins: Han is in prison. His door is opened and he tries to tell his unseen visitors that he has a really good explanation for what happened (last issue). In fact, “I’ve learned a valuable lesson for the last fourteen, fifteen days in this lovely prison cell. So what do you say we just shake hands and part company as friends?” The five troopers raise their blasters to execute the cadet and Han drops his head muttering, “I’m sorry, Qi’ra.” That’s when someone else enters the room and his luck changes. He’s asked a question that creates three (fantastic) flashbacks, but he gives an unsatisfactory answer, yet he has a skill the Empire needs. He’s placed back into training and instantly finds himself in trouble again, though Lyttan and Tamu Dreee take a liking to him. Robbie Thompson’s story demonstrates why Han will never be Empire material, were it not for his one particular talent. The other cadets’ personalities are building well, with those that want to work with him and those that want to see him dead. The big action sequence at the end of the book summarizes Han’s character perfectly. We’re only two issues into this series and I want to see Thompson writing a monthly series that focuses on Han’s youthful exploits. Overall grade: A

The art: The first page of his issue is composed of four panels that have terrific shadow work on Han in his cell. These shadows visual establish where Han is without the text revealing it. The second panel’s shadows show the door opening and the close up of Han shows he’s not in a great state. The bottom panel pulls in closer to the cadet who is now partially covered by the shadows of those that have entered the cell. Leonard Kirk is telling much of this story with his visuals right from the start. The soldiers who are going to shoot him look ominous, while the inserted small panels of Han wonderfully show how he can go from cocky to lost in seconds. The entrance of the dominant character at the bottom of the page looks great and the second panel on Page 3 is explosive. The trio of flashbacks that are read going from Page 4 to 5 are outstanding, with the visuals in the middle fantastic. I like that the dominant character on 6 has an expression that doesn’t change: this is the face of the Empire. I love the action on 8, with that last panel showing how Han fights. How could any reader resist the smile in the fifth panel on 9? Page 11 contains four different locations and training exercises that Han endures, all of which show the reader what a cadet has to go through to wear the white helmet. I loved how each teased without explaining, in the visuals or texts, why they were necessary. Pages 12 and 13 contain seven images drawn at different angles and sizes to increase the tension of the action that’s being shown and they look fantastic; Han’s face on 12 is outstanding. The issue’s climatic action sequence begins on 14 and if anyone is a fan of TIEs in action, they will be in seven heaven with these visuals. The facially immobile dominant character shows a slight emotion on the final page, while the final panel is a wonderful visual bookend with the first page. Seriously, someone get Kirk on a monthly young Han Solo book as soon as possible! Overall grade: A

The colors: Arif Prianto compliments Kirk’s art perfectly. I love the gross colors that splotch Han’s face on the opening pages and the variety of blacks on the second page which allows every aspect of the artwork to be seen, but also makes the number of men to look like an overwhelming force, which is what the Empire wants. The reds on 3 are excellent punctuation marks for the visuals. Each of the three flashbacks have their own predominant color, with the tans on the first one instantly transporting me to that location. I like that the academy’s mess hall has an antiseptic light gray, coming off as military, but not fully Imperial. The colors on 12 and 13 direct the reader where to look in all the chaos occurring. Orange-yellows and blues dominant the action that starts on 14. Prianto needs to join Kirk and Thompson when this becomes a monthly. Overall grade: A

The letters: And I want VC’s Joe Caramagna to join the other three in a Han monthly. However, I would like to see the dialogue changed to a stronger font. It commands no strength in anyone of authority who speaks. In addition to dialogue, Caramagna does scene settings, sounds, whispered dialogue, editorial notes and transmissions, and yells. I really like the scene settings, which are different from what are used in other Star Wars comics; this font should be employed in all the titles. The whispered dialogue is smaller than normal dialogue and works, not only because of its size, but because it’s a thin font, making the character weak. Han gets a major yell that looks fantastic, and that can also be said of all the sounds. Star Wars comics have been lacking sounds since Marvel’s reacquiring of the franchise, but this book has plenty and I’m standing and applauding Caramagna for what he did and for Thompson for including them. Overall grade: A-

The final line: Two issues in and I want all involved with his book on the monthly adventures of young Han Solo. The story is fun, showing Han to be completely inappropriate for the military, but absolutely heroic. The visuals are great, from flashbacks to incredible action sequences. Seriously, Marvel, this team should be on a Star Wars monthly. This is a great book. Overall grade: A

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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.
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