In Review: Star Wars: Age of Rebellion-Han Solo #1

Calling all Star Wars fans -- you want this!

The covers: Six covers to smuggle into your house before your spouse discovers them. The Terry and Rachel Dodson Regular cover is a beauty. Han has his iconic blaster out and pointed to the right, his vest is billowing out due to his spin, and a cocky smile is on his face. Behind him, on a white background, is the Millennium Falcon in a nose dive. I’m unabashedly a fan of the Dodsons’ work and I can’t imagine not owning a copy with this cover. Done in blues on a white background, the Concept Design Variant by Ralph McQuarrie is an illustration fans may have come across before, but not as large as this. Han could have looked like this in the original film, as envisioned by McQuarrie early in the film’s production. It’s a different take than what fans are used to, but it still has all the swagger that Ford brought to the character. I love these peeks into what could have been. WOW! I’ve got to find this Greatest Moments Variant by Yasmine Putri. Yes, it has absolutely nothing to do with this issue, but it’s one of my favorite moments from the films: Luke is straining to reach his lightsaber that’s embedded in the snow as the Wampa charges him. I love Luke’s angle, his face, the Wampa, and the colors. I’m a Luke fan and his is one to have! Harrison Ford graces the Photo Variant cover that has a bust shot of the iconic scoundrel. This is from the first film as his shirt is open low. If one likes Han or Harrison, this is one to pick up. Han Solo has his blaster in his right hand pointed up as he stands atop a star field that sports the Millennium Falcon with eight TIE Fighters flying around it and six X-wings flying below them. Really nice! This Puzzle Piece Variant by Mike McKone & Guru-eFX shows that these are outstanding frontpieces to track down. The Variant cover by Gerald Parel has Luke Skywalker in the lower center with his lightsaber in both hands. Behind him is a larger version of Leia in her classic whites with her hood on. She’s sporting a blaster in one hand. Behind her is a larger image of Han looking forward in contemplation. Between the princess and the smuggler is a small image of Lando. To the right are the familiar wall lights associated with Imperial structures and to the left is an explosion in orange with an X-wing zipping out of it. Nice, but a generic illustration that could be placed on any Star Wars book.  Overall grades: Regular A+, Concept Design Variant A, Greatest Moments Variant A+, Photo Variant A+, Puzzle Piece Variant A, and Variant A-

The story: Han and Chewie are counting their money after finally getting paid by Princess Leia for helping her and the Rebellion against the Empire and their Death Star. Now they have enough credits to pay off the bounty on Han’s head from Jabba the Hutt and they begin to think about where to go next. The problem is they don’t know. That’s when Luke walks in to ask if Han and Chewie will deliver a few crates to a surveillance outpost on Calumdarian. Han says he’s not part of the Rebellion and the only reason that Leia got help on Cyrkon is due to Chewie being an “ol’ softie.” However, Luke has had two men deliver the crates while they’re talking and he walks out thanking the smugglers for being the best that the Rebellion has got. “You don’t got me!” Han yells at the Jedi’s back. “I’m not part of the Rebellion!Greg Pak has captured Han and his shaggy co-pilot’s characters quickly and smoothly and then has them in a cantina in Balnab’s spaceport. The action that follows is believable and the final three panels on 7 are fantastic! The reaction by the character in the fourth panel is perfect and the reactions from the larger group at the bottom of the page are killer — as is Han’s comment on what’s occurred. I like how Han finds old friends in the worst of places and goes back to his old habits, only to find that he’s not the same person. His back and forth with Chewie throughout the book is outstanding, sounding and feeling like lost moments from a film. What happens on Troiken is great, with some unexpected foes and an unexpected turn of events on 17. Pages 18 and 19 show Han to be turning into the hero fans know him to be, with the last page having him still being true to himself. This is the Han I love. Overall grade: A+

The art: This combination of artists, Chris Sprouse on pencils and Karl Story on inks, have been favorites of mine since their work graced Legionnaires long ago for DC Comics. I was looking forward to what they would bring to this issue and I was not disappointed. The introduction of the Falcon on the first page is great as it hides under a rock’s overhang and two Rebel pilots walk by it. Within the ship, Han and Chewie are surrounded by a highly detailed background, with Han making some neat motions as he bangs on a wall. The emotion on Han’s face as he realizes he doesn’t know where to go is sad. Luke’s entrance is great as is Chewie’s reaction to his appearance. Look at how smoothly the point of view moves around, showcasing the characters and the lush backgrounds. The slugfest on 5 and 6 is awesome — just what one would expect to see Han getting into. Page 7 is outstanding for both sides’ reactions to Han’s intervention, with the look on the smuggler’s face at the bottom of the page perfection. Akko is incredibly likable in his design and looks ever inch the scoundrel as Han. Troiken is more festive than I was expecting and the species that the characters are looking for unexpected. The entrance and exit on 12 and 13 is awesome — so happy to see these individuals! The last panel on 14 is just screaming with emotion with only one word of text in it. The species encountered on 17 was surprising and they made me smile. The environment on 18 and 19 is the most hostile of the book and looks great. This book looks amazing. If only this pair of artists could be tied to a Star Wars limited series. Overall grade: A+

The colors: I want bright colors on my Star Wars books, even if it involves ne’er-do-wells. Tamra Bonvillain uses a beautiful violet for the mountains that hide the Falcon, giving the white ship a neat shaded tint. The interiors of the Falcon are grays and mottled whites to show its age and the abuse it’s received. The blues for the hologram on Page 2 are heavenly. Luke is a standout when he appears due to his yellow jacket he sported at the awards ceremony in Episode IV. Violets return for the exterior of the spaceport on Balnab and the musty yellow-oranges used for the interior of the cantina give it an instant sleazy feel. The foliage of Troiken has peaceful greens. Yellow lighting against a purple sky having the night life look vivid on this world. The environment on 18 and 19 strikes the reader as harsh due to the simmering oranges. Notice how the crates being delivered look like salvation thanks to the cool blue that each sports. Overall grade: A+

The letters: VC’s Travis Lanham creates scene settings, dialogue, Wookiee speech, sounds, yells, Xento and his men’s alien dialogue, a new species’ speech, and a cheer. The scene settings on this book are strong, stand out, and are easy to read. These are terrific and all Star Wars books should employ them. The dialogue is also wonderful; it’s not the thin font I’ve nagged about in other SW books — this should also be used in other titles. The Wookiee speech is still in slightly wavering lines, looking as if it’s on fire, but it’s often so small, due to panel size, that it doesn’t annoy too much. The placement of Chewie’s dialogue is also centered more often than not, protruding before and after the space of the balloon that contains it. The sounds and yells are perfect — exactly how fans would hear them. Overall grade: A

The final line: Calling all Star Wars fans — you want this! Han starts out on a noble mission only to find himself drawn into helping an old friend that leads to trouble. I loved the characters, old and new, with plenty of action that makes Han and Chewie fan favorites. The visuals are superb, leaving me hoping that Sprouse and Story will be asked back for more Star Wars work. This is outstanding. 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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