– Spoiler Review –
The Millennium Falcon gets crowded in Han Solo #4 as all the spies, with each one being a potential traitor, come together at last. But will Han finish the mission or risk it all by trying to finish the race? A revealing chat with Loo Re Anno, the first of the spies to die, and the giant threat awaiting each Dragon Void Run pilot in the final leg make this an exciting lead up to the series finale.
Dorae, the spy who boarded the ship at the end of issue #3, threatens Han’s mission for the Alliance due to her grudge against Chewbacca. The situation is diffused quicker than expected by the arrival of Loo Re Anno and the two Twi’lek pilots after Han’s Witness (the orbs surrounding Loo) called for backup. Before she leaves to continue the race herself, Loo has a candid chat with Han about the nature of the race, what it means for her people, and what she sees in him that he’s been trying to deny this whole time. In a surprise to everyone, especially since each spy was supposed to be on a different planet, the last of the Rebellion spy arrives while being chased by Imperials. Realizing the traitor among the spies has to be aboard the Falcon, Han would rather risk the final leg of the Dragon Void than bring a potential traitor to the Rebellion’s base. But when he drops out of hyperspace for the final leg, the immense Imperial presence might make him regret such a decision, until he bands together with the remaining Dragon Void pilots to do what they do best: fly…and fly well enough to avoid being Imperial prisoners.
Each issue I’ve found the little bits of internal dialogue from Han to be some of my favorite and #4’s was probably the best, mostly because it came into direct contradiction to what was happening in the panels: As Dorae threatens Chewie, Han gets in the way of her blaster while internally he’s talking about only having one priority and it’s himself, which means at this point he’s outright lying to himself. He’s having trouble admitting he’s changed, that he cares about others, the mission, and of course Leia because all the above could get in the way of his usual lifestyle. But that lifestyle has its own risks and Han’s just not sure if they’re worth it if they aren’t for something greater, something bigger than him. That’s partly why he’s trying to finish the Dragon Void Run, despite the Rebellion’s mission, because he wants to prove to himself he’s still just in it for himself…and he’s only gone on to take bigger and bigger risks for the other pilots, the spies he’s taken in, and the mission.
Just as he’s trying to finish the race to make himself think he hasn’t changed, Loo Re Anno has a candid and revealing chat with Han. First, she peels back some of the mystery surrounding her and her race, as she tells Han her grandmother was part of the founding members of the Dragon Void Run because not only did she like to fly fast, she didn’t want to fly alone. It’s been made clear the Run is as old as time seemingly, so for it to be only Loo’s grandmother who was involved in putting it together means their species must live a long time. The Dragon Void changed her people’s ways, as it drew them together in ways they never imagined, instead of how they used to enjoy solitude. Ever since then, the race has been a rite of passage for them in a way, as it, “…demands we expand our dreams of what we can become.” Han is quick to point out the important parts of the Dragon Void, as far as he sees it, are how it’ll prove you’re the best and the lifetime payout one receives upon winning (new information we just got, which would certainly help explain why he’d he itching to win so he’d never have to owe anyone anything). But Loo’s point about how it brought their people together and how they now celebrate unity, as well as how it forces one to better themselves, really hits home with Han and his internal crisis at the moment. Does he want to fly alone for the money or fly with others to further himself? After she tells him he’s special, that the stars are in his blood, he responds by telling Loo he’s happy not to be special/one of those people who sticks their necks out, but the art of the panel highlights just how much he doesn’t believe himself as he’s drawn looking down, cast in darkness with only the Witness to give him light. Heck Loo even calls him out on it and he just changes the subject, still unwilling to face the truth.
What’s really fun with the spies at this point is how each one could just as easily be on the Rebellion’s side as they could be a traitor. Dorae’s story was intriguing, which involved Chewie killing a baby rathtar she was going to sell to help pay off some debts and how that little action had the trickle-down effect of causing her to be unable to pay bribes, protection, and eventually lose everything to the Empire. Can’t blame her for holding a grudge against Chewie for that, even if he was trying to protect Han from the rathtar while they were trying to steal it from her. She quickly puts it behind her after Loo and the Twi’leks appear, and then wants Han to pull out of the race because supposedly the Alliance gave Dorae orders to tell Han to stay put and wait for the final spy to be delivered to them. It certainly seems reasonable and while Han might not trust her, or that her information came from Leia, he still decides to put the mission first and stay out of the race. The sudden arrival of the last spy, Aran, and his bodyguard, the Falleen woman U’il we saw in issue #2, changes everything due to their Imperial pursuit and Han realizes one of them has to be the traitor. Bot might be putting on the nervous act because he’s actually the spy or he’s legitimately that nervous all the time and isn’t; Aran’s too new to the story to be the spy (and he dies mysteriously before the issue is over); and Dorae I’ve already discussed. As for U’il, she says her orders come from, “Your worshipfulness,” which Han realizes to mean she must’ve met Leia because only she and Luke have supposedly heard him call her that. If they are that close, she must be way more important than a bodyguard, which might mean she’s the master list keeper who knows all the identities of the spies, as she certainly knew both Bot and Aran. That might make her prime candidate number one, but since Han interrogates her shortly after he’s had Chewie round up everyone’s weapons and Aran is killed sometime during their chat, she’s certainly got her alibi. If everyone’s weapons were taken, could’ve U’il poisoned Aran before arriving on the Falcon or is their still one party left in play that no one is considering? While it all happens off-screen, one can assume everyone was in Chewie’s presence for the most part, so how and when did someone get Aran?
I present my final call for Loo Re Anno to be the traitor, though with U’il possibly being the master-list keeper, she might not even be part of the spy ring Han’s been sent to pick up. But, while Han and U’il talk, which is likely when Aran dies, one panel during their chat has a random “ZZZZT!” appear and neither Han or U’il react to it. A casual glance back at earlier issues reveals the noises “CHZZZ” and “ZZZT” in very similar lettering has been previously attributed to the Witnesses, the glowing orbs surrounding Loo. One has been chilling with Han since issue #2, and even though it called for backup when Han and Chewie were in danger, we do know it can attack or do damage, as it destroyed those race cameras following Han in issue #3. I’m struggling to find a reason for Loo to be the traitor though, but if she isn’t and the Witness was still responsible for Aran’s death, maybe those orbs could be operating independently of Loo and they have their own agenda. Despite being delayed two weeks, there’s only one issue left so we don’t have to wait terribly long to find out the answer to who the spy amongst the spies really is, but it’ll certainly be bugging me until then.
Marjorie Liu’s writing continues to shine, as she balances perfectly between several different things: the seriousness of Han’s internal dilemma and his chat with Loo, Han’s humor and sarcasm, and keeping the many different players present all feel unique. Two of my favorite bits of humor include: When Han returns from his chat with Loo, he sees Dorae, Bot, and Chewie sitting together at the Dejarik table no longer trying to kill one another. His comment is, “Oh good. I’m glad we needed the threat of death to fix all our problems.”; The other moment is Han’s frustration filled comment, “And listen, if Chewie decides to rip off you limbs, that’s just what happens.” Bot responds, “You’re terrible, Solo,” and Dorae adds, “Well, for once, he’s being honest.” Pure gold. Again, I’d like to plug her series Monstress, if you’re interested in dark fantasy and the best cat characters ever. And on the art front, Mark Brooks (sans Dexter Vines this issue, just like in #1) continues his stellar, highly detailed art which manages to capture just as much emotion as an actual person’s face would had this been a film. Sonia Oback, joined by Matt Milla (who’s working on “The Last Flight of the Harbinger” arc at the moment) brings Brooks’ work to colorful life, especially that panel I mentioned earlier with Han cast in shadow from the light of the Witness.
Here are a few other things:
- Between issues 3 and 4 I found myself rereading Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion: Honor Among Thieves aka it’s more affectionately known name SWEARHAT, written by James. S.A. Corey, the duo behind The Expanse series. The book covers some very similar ground to what this series does, especially in regards to Han coming to terms with how much he actually does care about Luke, Leia, and their cause of the Rebellion. It also features Scarlet Hark, probably one of the last great characters created in Legends, and it would’ve been the better choice to canonize instead of Heir to the Jedi, the third and final “Empire and Rebellion” book that got to survive the Legends ax for reasons including its release date. If you haven’t read SWEARHAT yet and are looking for more Han stories, I highly recommend the book. Here’s hoping the smuggler’s upcoming A Star Wars Story film can hit all the right notes both Han Solo and SWEARHAT have.
- As U’il and Aran race to the Falcon, they are being chased by an Imperial hovertank. Never seen one before? Well, they are pretty new as they’ll be featured in the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story! A hovertank can be seen in the Celebration Europe 2016 sizzle reel. This is the second Rogue One and comics crossover, as the upcoming Doctor Aphra series features a new species from the film.
- I thought U’il and Grega were the same character, considering Grega looked very similar to U’il and Bot even asks U’il why she’s there as if he’s seen her before. Maybe they are two distinct Falleen women. Maybe U’il and Grega are first and last names. Maybe it doesn’t matter in the long run. For now, I’ll go on thinking they are the same.
Everyone’s set for the final leg of the Han Solo series thanks to another solid entry in what’s shaping up to be my favorite mini-series from 2016. I’ll have a better idea after the finale if it deserves such a title.
+ Loo’s chat with Han
+ The spy mystery deepens…or does it?
+ Art team continues to be the best of all the Star Wars series
CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
#1 | #2 | #3 | #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)