By Marjorie Liu, Mark Brooks, Sonia Oback, and Joe Caramagna
Next up to star in their own 5-issue miniseries for Marvel’s new Star Wars line is everybody’s favorite smuggler, and he’s joined, as ever, by the walking carpet himself. Ever since Marvel announced these 5-part minis, one centering on Han seemed the obvious choice. We can only assume the delay in one arriving was because the Lucas Story Group (a team who make sure all Star Wars new continuity products sync up, aka: the best job in the freaking world after chocolate tester) had to make sure the upcoming Han Solo movie and this miniseries didn’t contradict each other in any way. This has maybe lead to a little unfair expectation on this poor comic as it’s the miniseries most have wanted since the launch. Thankfully it holds its own, and is an exciting taste of things to come.
Story-wise we are entirely in set-up territory, so it’s a little hard to be too judgmental, though things do feel a little “Marvel-by-numbers.” Han is out of the alliance. He’s pulled back in. There’s some exposition. He meets some new peeps who are bound to crop up later. Cliffhanger. But what helps elevate the story over its somewhat predictable set up is Liu has perfectly nailed Han’s voice like Jason Aaron before her. You can feel Harrison Ford’s voice reading the word balloons here. By capturing the character so excellently, it helps carry the issue and make this a good, fun read.
Mark Brooks is always a steady bet in the art department, and this is no different. He has an expert eye for detail, a style perfect for a Star Wars title as it’s a joy to take your time with the pages and explore every nook and cranny of the crammed panels; each ship detailed within an inch of its life with nuts and bolts. This is a great fit for the character of Han; complex pencilling reflecting a complex character. Brook’s crazy, near Jim Lee style of panel layouts might make up the sort of page that could be confusing to follow, but in a pen wielded by an expert like Brooks, the pages flow and track well, creating an erratic page layout perfectly fitting the scattergun nature of the character he’s weaving a story about.
The only real flaw here is a regular one for Brooks: there’s an inconsistency to his faces. Often Han looks like the Han we know and love, nut in the odd panel here and there, he can slip into looking like someone a little more generic. But it’s less than a handful of panels in an otherwise really stellar 20-odd pages.
But what’s really clever here is Sonia Oback’s color palette. We are in murky territory, lots of browns, blacks and deep yellows. An evocative and intelligent way in which to reflect the grungy aspect of Han as a man compared to the more fairy tale archetypes that are his friends, a sharp contradiction from the bright, near Saturday morning cartoon colors, of the Chewbacca mini series. There’s thought going on here beyond just “coloring in”, showcasing what a great art form in and of itself coloring can be.
All three creators here have made stellar creative choices in offering up a story, art style & color scheme best befitting the scruffy look nerf herder. Whilst not perfect, Han Solo #1 is an interesting start to what could shape up to be one of the stronger Star Wars mini series.