– Spoiler Review –
Is the Empire Han Solo’s biggest threat on his mission to rescue wayward Rebellion spies or is it one of the spies themselves? Han Solo #3 deepens the mystery at the core of the story, takes a good long look at what makes Han tick, raises questions about Loo Re Anno, and introduces someone who’ll cause even more trouble for Han and Chewie…plus they still have a race to run! All those things add up to Han Solo quickly becoming my favorite new series of 2016.
The Imperial threat thankfully doesn’t last long, thanks to the pressure put on Officer Tomine by the Dragon Void race masters, a.k.a. those hooded aliens floating around the scene of the arrests. The fact he acquiesced so quickly and let the racers go after the threat of fuel shortage in the region and how the race will likely kill whomever the Imperials are after anyways could hint the Imperials either weren’t actually there to bust Han’s mission to corral up the Rebellion’s spies or they think their insider will be able to handle the situation themselves (like maybe someone who’s survived several years participating in the deadly race…). Either way, their threats leave the racers freed and the Dragon Void able to continue, which involves a rather grueling new challenge to overcome. Likewise in issue #3, Han learns a lot more details, from the chatty spy Chewie picks up, about how the ring of spies he’s picking up works, like the curious detail that besides Leia only the master-list keeper of the spy ring knows everyone’s identities (meaning they’re likely the one who turned).
With each issue I want more of the inner dialogue from Han, but the smuggler’s actions (especially seen throughout this issue) always tend to speak louder than his words, which is more entertaining anyways. Over the first two issues, he’s been struggling with what’s changed inside himself, not seemingly willing to accept what it actually means for him and his future: he cares about more than just himself. He always has in his own weird way, best highlighted by his partnership and loyalty to Chewie or his undying love for the Millennium Falcon, but those things benefited him and allowed him to live his lifestyle. Now though, what he cares for isn’t for his benefit, but for the benefit of others, which his recklessness and old way of living could jeopardize. Seeing him slowly realize this throughout the series, like how #1’s inner monologue revealed his unwillingness to take risky jobs, adds another great layer to his character, beginning to connect to his desire to leave the Rebellion so his baggage wouldn’t hurt his friends, as seen in The Empire Strikes Back.
But this is about Han Solo so it’s not all introspective and serious. Much like the previous issues, Marjorie Liu proves she truly understands the character, which allowed me to constantly be able to read things in Harrison Ford’s voice. He’s got his snarky sense of humor, exemplified by his response to Tomine asking about all the fans shouting Solo’s name, “People love me. It’s a curse”; his willingness to help others, shown when he gets in the Imperial’s way of threatening Loo Re Anno and her orbs; and his desire to prove himself to himself as he jumps into the next leg of the race even though he doesn’t have to. Also, #3 had about as much expositional dialogue as #1, but it proved that since you have Han Solo hearing such dialogue he’s always good for keeping info-dumps entertaining for readers since he’s still just the everyday man, whittling it all down to the basics.
I continue to love the design and mystery around Loo and it only gets more intriguing and even harder to wait for the details to spill after issue #3. When Tomine wonders aloud how Loo or any species can be dwindled down to a single individual, Loo responds, “It usually requires help.” Was that a dig at the Imperials since they’re responsible? Is it something Loo did personally? Or someone/something else? I’m excited to learn the answer, even if I’m still convinced she’s the true trouble for the spy ring Han is picking up. In #2, I found the random Dug’s warning to be more likely about Loo’s orbs around Han than the obviously descending Imperial shuttle. In #3, I’d say the Imperials packing up so easily could’ve been a feint to draw attention away from the real adversary. Additionally, storytelling conventions and new information gained this issue could also point to her as well: the revelation that one of the remaining three informants is the killer/turncoat, one of which is the master-list keeper who is the only person besides Leia to know everyone else’s identities, likely makes them the traitor; most stories are supposed to introduce all the important things you need to know in the beginning, therefore Loo already being introduced before the other informants makes her rather important; those orbs would be good for someone who wants to collect whispers from all over since they could be mistaken for harmless things (which we see they can be dangerous when they take out the race cameras following Han). All that together could certainly point to her being one of the informants and likely our turncoat, and if it’s true I’d be interested to see if her species’ history has any overlap with her reasoning for why she’s turned on the other Rebellion spies. Needless to say, I’m very intrigued by Loo Re Anno no matter if she’s a spy or not.
And nearly as intriguing as Loo is the next rebel spy Han and Chewie pick up, who’s not exactly happy to see the two smugglers as it turns out she has a debt to settle with Chewbacca! Plus, she’s like a giant cat/lion looking alien…what more do you need to know? That the cat/lion is drawn and colored by the expert art team of Mark Brooks, Dexter Vines, and Sonia Oback? Because that’s worth the admission price alone, folks. From everyone’s expressive faces (especially Han’s and surprisingly Chewie’s), the dense and packed panels, and another new character design to drool over, these artists continue to have some of the best art in Star Wars comics at the moment (which is saying something, since most of the other series have top notch art!). The splash page (it has a big Falcon in the bottom left while 10 angled panels radiate outwards from it) near the end of the issue, detailing the first 10 hours of the grueling 12 hour, high velocity obstacle course that is the 2nd leg of the Dragon Void, was ingeniously laid out and full of fantastic images.
Here are a few other things:
- The second leg of the race was a pretty intense challenge, continuing to make me impressed with how one could go about making a race in space tricky, difficult, and ultimately dangerous. Makes me worried for what the final leg will be!
- The goggles and scarf Han wears on the dusty planet they land in at the end are likely direct references to the Sandstorm deleted scene from Return of the Jedi!
- There are several truly funny moments, and if I had to pick a favorite, I would have to say it was this following scene: Bot, the Duros spy Chewie picked up in #2 says, “Please don’t ever rescue me again,” since Chewie gave Bot a paralytic to calm him down. Han gives the Wookiee a questioning look, but Chewie’s simple return glance says, “At least I did my job.”
- In the break between issues, I decided to pick up Monstress, a series created by Marjorie Liu with art by Sana Takeda, simply off the strength of Liu’s writing here and all the good reviews it was getting. It’s definitely more adult than any of the Star Wars titles have been, but it’s a beautiful piece of work I’d highly suggest picking up. At first it’s a little hard to pick up on, but before you know it you just can’t stop reading it, the bizarre fantasy world sucking you in. Plus, it has some of the best cats ever and this is coming from a dog person.
Even without a theory for me to prove via confirmation bias (I’m not above admitting that could definitely be the case with my thoughts on Loo), Han Solo #3 continues the series’ pedigree for top notch everything, including a tale I’m growing even more eager to see unfold.
+ Han coming to grips with his new priorities (thanks to Liu’s writing)
+ Waiting to learn the mystery of Loo Re Anno gets even harder
+ Who and what is this cat alien…and why does it have a bone to pick with our favorite fuzzball, Chewie?
+ Mark Brooks, Sonia Oback, and Dexter Vines make sweet art together for us to enjoy on the pages
CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
#1 | #2 | #4 | #5
Skywalker Strikes (#1-6) | Old Ben’s Journals | Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon (#8-12) | Rebel Jail (#16-19) | The Last Flight of the Harbinger (#21-25)
Vader Down (crossover of Star Wars and Darth Vader on-goings)
Vader (#1-6) | Shadows and Secrets (#7-12) | The Shu-Torun War (#16-19) | End of Games (#20-25) | Annual: #1
The Last Padawan (#1-6) | First Blood (#7-12)
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6)
Obi-Wan & Anakin (mini-series)
Shattered Empire (mini-series)
Princess Leia (mini-series)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (mini-series)