Han Solo #1
Written by Marjorie Liu
Art by Mark Brooks and Sonia Oback
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
He’s a smuggler. A scoundrel. A Rebel. But in the hands of Marjorie Liu and Mark Brooks, Han Solo gets to assume a new role - as leading man. While the plot of this debut issue gets off to a bit of a slow burn, Liu gives some undeniable spark to her scruffy-looking nerf herder, while Brooks provides some show-stopping visuals to anchor the story.
Following the destruction of the first Death Star, we meet a Han Solo who isn’t just spooked by the looming threat of Jabba the Hutt, but outright gun-shy now that he realizes he’s become a target for the entire Galactic Empire. It’s within that context that Liu draws Han back into the kind of shady dealings he does best - namely, entering a high-stakes space race as a cover to extract some Rebel informants from a precarious situation.
Admittedly, at times this can be a bit of a mixed bag - there’s a lot of verbal exposition to get us to this point, and the one downside of Marvel’s Star Wars blitz is that a lot of stories are starting to feel a little samey in terms of objective (Lando, Darth Vader, and even the flagship Star Wars series have had a lot of this cloak-and-dagger operations going, to say nothing of the upcoming Rogue One film).
But where Liu really succeeds is in capturing the voice that Harrison Ford imbued in his character, that tough but slightly neurotic posturing that comes out when anyone impugns his reputation - or the character of the Millennium Falcon. In particular, this book crackles when Han and Princess Leia share page time, with their bickering and obvious romantic tension being the highlight of the book. (Watching Han try to sneak in a kiss is one great moment, given their flirting in The Empire Strikes Back - you know exactly how it’s going to end, but Liu still makes it worth your while.) But in general, Liu seems to have internalized the rhythm and voice of the Star Wars characters, making these icons ring true and giving her story a very solid foundation to build upon.
Yet even without all that, Han Solo #1 would be a book that deserves attention, as it provides a rare treat - interior artwork from Mark Brooks. Brooks has primarily been focusing on covers for the last few years, but it’s really heartening to be reminded that his bouncy linework translates so nicely to storytelling pages as well. From the first page, which has Han leaning against a bar filled with alien crooks and criminals, you see just how confident Brooks is - and he should be. He’s been given a big challenge, considering he also has to work in the likenesses of Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, but for the most part, he does some great work, particularly in the aforementioned bickering between Han and Leia. He even makes the spacefaring scenes look more dynamic than most Star Wars artists have in the past, which is a real achievement since they tend to look pretty static on the page. Sonia Oback also does magnificent work with her colors, giving Brooks’ art a real depth and weight that lends a lot to the storytelling.
While we’re not quite on must-read status yet, Han Solo does have plenty of potential in both of its creators, and now that the necessary exposition has been laid out, they really have an entire universe to explore. It’s hard not to feel optimistic when you see how well Liu has captured her lead’s voice, and there are plenty of people who will (and rightly so) just buy this book just to see more of Mark Brooks’ artwork. Like his ship, Han Solo might not look like much to the untrained eye, but this series has got it where it counts.