In Review: Solo Adaptation #5

The Kessel Run is officially chronicled in comics in fine style.

The covers: Two different covers to get if you’re fast enough to avoid any Imperial entanglements. The Regular cover by Phil Noto is set in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. Han is piloting, Chewie in the co-pilot’s seat, and behind them, looking on in fear, are Lando, Beckett, and Qi’ra. The bottom third of the cover features the creature within the maw that’s trying to eat the Falcon from a frightening scene within the Akkadese Maelstrom. This is fantastic. Is there anyway to get a book published by Marvel that just features Star Wars covers by Noto? I’d buy it. The Variant cover by W. Scott Forbes is an art deco illustration. Qi’ra looks glamorous before a series of window outlined in yellow that show the exterior of Savareen. Beneath this window, framing the protagonist, are Dryden Vos and Darth Maul. Each villain is looking away from her, as if she was below their notice. This is a great illustration, but the faded colors destroy its beauty. This looks as if it was set in the sun too long and the colors faded. Brighter colors would have made this a classic frontpiece. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant D

The story: The Millennium Falcon is facing an Imperial blockade within the Akkadese Maelstrom. Lando wants to drop the coaxium and surrender, but Qi’ra says that Dryden Vos will kill them if they don’t deliver the shipment. Complicating things are the five TIE Fighters that launch from the Star Destroyer. Han chooses to go into the maelstrom using recently deactivated Elthree’s navigational database to survive it. With Tobias on the ventral gun, the Falcon plunges into unknown territory. Robbie Thompson’s adaptation faithfully follows the action from the film with the majority of this issue dealing with the protagonists’ plight to get to safety. There’s some good tension with the pursuing TIEs. The only new moment occurs on Page 8. It’s supposed to be funny, but comes off as way too silly for what’s happening to the heroes. If this was supposed to be in the film, I’m glad it was omitted. The monstrosity that threatens the Falcon is a great obstacle. Once on Savareen, everything seems to finally be going everyone’s way, though Lando is not a happy camper due to his ship’s state. I did like the quite moment between Han and Qi’ra which reinforces his desire to be with her. When she tells Han what he is works well. The issue ends on a cliffhanger that reintroduces an antagonist. Overall grade: A

The art: Will Sliney starts this issue off well with a sensational image of the Falcon confronting the Star Destroyer. Han and Qi’ra’s shock at what’s before them is nicely deflected by Lando’s calm response. The bottom image of the TIEs launching looks stagnant; I need some speed lines to tell me where they’ve come from. The determination on Han’s face in the third panel on Page 2 is perfect for what’s said. The first panel on the fourth page is a fantastic view of the Falcon being pursued by the TIEs. Lando’s sly smile on 7 is great, as is Tobias’s apprehension in the panel that follows. The two panels on 8 that contain the new/lost/unfilmed scene are visually funny, but would not have worked in the film because it lessens the tension too much. The reveal at the bottom of the page is excellent. The full reveal of the creature on 9 is good and I really like the tentacles in both top corners showing how far this beast can reach. The images of Han and Lando at the bottom look great; I’ve always loved when artists create bust images of the characters and these are cool. Everything on Page 10 is moving to the right, creating a constant sense of motion, and tension, for the events. The Falcon looks extremely well done on the four pages that follow. Often artists will have a little difficulty with the ships, but Sliney’s look great. I especially like the third panel on Page 14 where the Falcon maneuvers into tight quarters. The smile on 15 summarizes Han’s personality completely. The Falcon isn’t as beat up in the second panel on 16 as it was in the film, but that’s because the ship is so far from the reader. Having it buried in the sand is enough to rationalize Lando’s unhappiness. The layout on 18 and 19 is great: Han and Qi’ra are in the same space, but Sliney has them separated for important dialogue; this shows that they cannot be together the way Han wants. The final page is a full-paged splash of a character’s return. This character and their crew looks good, but there’s a lot of empty space with the sky; pulling in more would have helped. This is a minor nit though, for the majority of this book’s art is terrific. Overall grade: A-

The colors: Helping to create the book’s excellent visuals are the colors by Federico Blee. The lighting effects in the maelstrom are very well done. The cockpit panels are dark, but not so much so that the the artwork cannot be seen. I like the highlighting done on characters’ faces to make them standout, such as in the third panel on Page 2, which makes Han look intense. I like the colors when the TIEs launch, with the bay they’ve left in yellows like an unholy maw. The Falcon’s engines look wonderful every time they’re shown. The explosion at the bottom of 3 is fantastic. I love the greens used for the blaster shots from the TIEs. There’s a great use of reds on 7 to remind the reader how dangerous the payload is. The blue highlights on 8 are also neat. The reds on 10 and 11 are the strongest colors of the book, making the heroes’ plight hellish. I like the blue skies on Savareen which counter the yellows and oranges. Overall grade: A 

The letters: Dialogue, scene settings, Wookiee speech, sounds, and yells are crafted by VC’s Joe Caramagna. I’ve gone off on Star Wars comics’ dialogue for years for it being too frail looking to command any power and this book again proves my dislike true. Take a look at Page 9. Han and Lando are reacting to something, but because of the design of the text they have the exact same emotion as Han and Qi’ra during the book’s final pages. Exclamation points ending sentences can’t give their dialogue any punch, making their peril lackluster. This holds true for the next three pages. Chewie’s dialogue is more often than not centered in his dialogue balloons, occasionally sticking out at the front. This makes his utterances come across as more universal in their delivery, as opposed to random placing. The sounds on this book are great, with crashing, blasters, and engines roaring wonderful. Overall grade: B+ 

The final line: The Kessel Run is officially chronicled in comics in fine style. This is an exciting read as Han and his companions make this death defying trip. There’s also a sweet scene between the title character and Qi’ra where their breakup is becoming more solidified. The visuals continue to be strong with the characters looking like their screen counterparts and the ships outstanding. This is an adaptation that any Star Wars fan would be happy to have in their collection. 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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