Star Wars: Han Solo Imperial Cadet #1
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Colorist: Arif Prianto
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Review by Melissa Prange
Filling in Solo’s gaps, Star Wars: Han Solo Imperial Cadet #1 explores Han’s time in the Imperial Navy. After leaving Corellia, Han sasses his way through basic training, much to the chagrin of his fellow cadets and those in charge. Thanks to the film, we knows Han doesn’t exactly excel in the navy, and this series shows us why (Spoiler/Not a Spoiler: it’s because he’s a thief and has a smart mouth).
There’s not a whole lot to say about the plot of Han Solo Imperial Cadet #1 as it, sadly, spends most of its time rehashing the events of Solo: A Star Wars Story. We see Han and Qi’ra’s thieving and Han leaving Corellia. While the issue does add some history to Qi’ra and Han’s relationship and allows another glimpse at Lady Proxima, it touches so little on Han’s time with the Imperial Cadets that the first issue is basically skippable. The only reason to read #1 and not just wait for issue two is that it does introduce a few new characters (Nico being the most interesting). There is so little new information, however, that I wonder if the comic was written for people who haven’t watched Solo. It would be a shame to pick up this series without having watched the film, however, because you wouldn’t get the spirit of Han and Qi’ra from this.
Still, my favorite part of the comic is actually the montage of Han and Qi’ra’s early heists. What struck me most is that it focused on Han caring more about freedom than safety. He constantly gets smacked around, and it’s notable that Qi’ra isn’t often by his side for those disciplinary actions. It’s a little thing, but I felt it added something further to their characterizations and relationship.
Unfortunately, that little glimpse of brightness is not enough to make me love Han Solo Imperial Cadet #1, especially since the art fails to capture the personality of Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo. So much of his performance in the film is based on facial expressions and reactions, and the comic doesn’t reflect that. Han Solo in Imperial Cadet #1 has a certain amount of bravado but most of that is thanks to the dialogue. There’s nothing about the physicality or expressions of the character in the art that scream Han to me. It’s disappointing because it just feels off. Qi’ra fares better. While she wasn’t on the page much, she embodied Emilia Clarke in a way that Han didn’t embody Alden or Harrison Ford. The colors of the comic, at least, did balance bright and dirty in a way that works for this world and helped the overall look of Imperial Cadet succeed.
The Verdict: Wait and See.
Disappointingly, Star Wars: Han Solo Imperial Cadet #1 is just so-so. The art didn’t quite work and the story rehashed too much of Solo. Imperial Cadet could be an excellent opportunity for Star Wars to explore more of Han’s early life (especially since we won’t be getting any Solo sequels), but it hasn’t embraced that opportunity yet. As someone who genuinely loved Solo, however, I’m more than willing to give this comic another chance. Now that the story is properly under way, I hope that the second issue will find a way to capture the essence of the character and show us something new.