– Spoiler Review –
In Han Solo #5, Han’s mission to bring back Rebellion spies is on its last leg as the Empire has arrived to end the Dragon Void Run once and for all. Marjorie Liu wraps up her take on Han in this expertly done finale to a solidly entertaining and insightful miniseries, while Mark Brooks and Sonia Oback stun one last time in the art department.
As the race enters the final leg, the Empire is hot on the racers’ tails, trying to destroy Solo for picking up the Rebellion spies. Loo Re Anno calls in some surprising backup, in the form a multi-dimensional being, and creates some space for the racers from the Empire. Han takes the brief hiatus to uncover who the spy within the spy ring really was: Dot, the nervous Duros, but with a twist it appears he was brainwashed into betraying the Rebellion. With Dot subdued, Han attempts to finish the race, but his time with the Rebellion and what he’s learned about Loo causes him to let her win so she can return home. In another of many surprises, Loo returns through the race’s final gate with the rest of her people to help the other pilots escape the Empire, vanishing into the void shortly thereafter. Han returns to Leia and the Rebellion, finally coming to terms with the truth about the changes in his life.
Marjorie Liu’s take on Han Solo, and the internal struggle he has about changing from someone who has lived and survived by telling himself he only cares for himself into someone who fights for and cares about other people (while outwardly pretending he still doesn’t care for anyone but himself), has been the best part of the series and comes to a satisfying conclusion in issue #5. As I’ve said throughout my reviews, little by little Han is realizing he’s changed into someone who wants to fight for a cause bigger than himself, though he was actively lying to himself because he was afraid of leaving his freedom-filled smuggling lifestyle behind to become attached to a group. By the end of the issue, the inner monologue I’ve loved so much reveals he understands what he’s fighting for and why he’s sticking around with the Rebellion…and why it’s okay for him to lose his smuggling lifestyle, which he admits he never truly had in the first place. Loo has a great line that really hits on how Han’s life changed once he met Luke and Leia in A New Hope: “…it takes a mirror made up of others to reflect back our true selves.” Han might never care terribly much about the cause he and other people seem to fighting for, but he’s always cared about the people around him. That’s the essence of Han: he’s a genuinely caring guy, though he does his best to hide it in his sarcastic, snarky personality because he doesn’t want people to know he’s a real softie inside (even if they know it). And that’s what makes Chewbacca such a great companion for Han: he’s the opposite, as he’s obviously a big softie, but he’ll be the big threatening Wookiee his outward appearance makes him to be when needed. They both put up fronts, but in the end they care a lot about each other and the people around them, something Liu captured wonderfully throughout the series. I only hope the Han Solo standalone film can give as an insightful look into the character of Han as Liu has done with him in this series.
While the mainline Star Wars series has had some of the best Han and Leia banter this side of Naboo, the Han Solo series has had the best Han and Leia moments in the comics to date, despite only having them interact twice. This issue closes out with a perfect continuation of Han and Leia from issue #1, which left off with Leia giving Han a solid punch to the face as an ‘excuse’ for Han to be leaving the base to throw off possible Imperial spies. They both essentially admit how happy they are to see one another again, without actually saying it, and they do it in the cutest way possible: Leia calls him a laser brain and he refers to her by your worshipfullness. But the real kicker, which sells the burgeoning feelings between them without ruining their eventual moment in The Empire Strikes Back (something the Star Wars series isn’t doing as good of a job as of late): their hands, casually resting so damn close together. The dialogue sells the scene, but the subtle final image is what makes the moment special. Can we have Liu in charge of Han and Leia moments going forward, please?
I’ve really grown to like Loo, but despite that I’ve constantly put forth the idea either she or her witnesses were the true traitors. Looking back, it was a silly, uninformed guess, but I had admitted several times I was struggling to find evidence she actually would be the traitor. Likewise, I was sold on Dot’s innocence and didn’t believe the rest of the spies were it, so that left really only Loo and the witnesses. I’m happy it ended up being Dot as the other characters, Dorae, U’il, and Loo all interested me way more than Dot. While it’s a little disappointing that we don’t learn how Dot was turned/brainwashed, in the end this series was not really about that, instead more focused on showing Han come to terms with his commitment to the Rebellion versus his mind’s ideal of himself as a charming, rogue smuggler. As I mentioned above, this series handled that expertly enough.
The fact that they’ve kept the mystery of Loo Re Anno, her people, and the witnesses still largely a secret makes me very happy. We might end the series understanding them just a little bit better than when the series started, but there’s still plenty of questions left. It seems her people aren’t dead or anything like that, just that they left for a different dimension, “…between the seams of time and space,” as Loo puts it. The gate at the end of the Dragon Void Run, the race they devised, was meant to shepard them into their exodus. Loo obviously never won before, hence why she’s still around, a situation she caused herself but shunning the more inclusive nature of her species and trying to go it solo. The parallels between Han and Loo are pretty fun to consider, as they both strike out on their own to prove themselves and end up finding what makes them happy and at their best is being with others like them, something Han teaches Loo here. She leaves, with her witnesses, back to her species’ new home, wherever/whenever it may be. The biggest question, beyond who and what else has gone onto different dimensions, is why did Loo’s species leave? It’s possible one day we might learn that story, but for now it’s fun to theorize.
Both Mark Brooks (artist) and Sonia Oback (colorist) cement their excellent, stunning work with a beautiful finale that had me glued to each panel. Brooks packs each page and panel with really dense, weighted art that feels appropriate for still frames of a film or TV show, with Oback making every ounce of it pop and feel appropriately Star Wars. Minus a few artists here or there, I’ve generally been happy with and thoroughly enjoyed the art we’ve gotten so far throughout the various Marvel Star Wars lines, but the Han Solo series takes the cake, hands down.
Here are a few other things:
- My favorite interaction/lines this issue involved the entire moment when Loo calls in her interdimensional jellyfish like creature, as there are funny and entertaining bits like Han doing his best not to be distracted by them, “…not looking, not looking, not looking…” and eventually complementing Loo for the assist despite not fully comprehending what just happened, “I like your style, lady.”
- I talked about it in my review of issue #3, but I feel it’s important to bring it up again: I highly suggest picking up Marjorie Liu’s series, Monstress, especially if you’ve liked this series and her character work. She brings all that and more to a bizarre, but epic fantasy world that might have initially took me a bit to get a hold of, but pulled me in and never let go once I understood it better. And it has some beautiful art by Sana Takeda, which perfectly captures the eccentricities of the world. I just realized this, but cats are a powerful, smart race in the Monstress series and Liu introduced Dorae, a giant cat-like alien to the Star Wars universe in this series…seems like she’s quite the fan of cats!
For a series to finish as strong as it started can be a rare feat, but I had the fullest of confidences in Marjorie Liu, Mark Brooks, and Sonia Oback and they did not disappoint. Han Solo #5 might just cement the series as the best mini-series of 2016 and should not be missed by any fan of the roguish smuggler.
+ Han coming to terms with his new lifestyle
+ The mystery of Loo Re Anno is peeled back, but uncovers more questions in the process
+ Han’s portrayal and the Han and Leia moment to close out the issue
+ Marjorie Liu, Mark Brooks, and Sonia Oback finish out as strong as they started
CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
#1 | #2 | #3 | #4
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) | The Gathering Storm (#7-10)
Obi-Wan & Anakin (mini-series)
Shattered Empire (mini-series)
Princess Leia (mini-series)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (mini-series)