Melissa Villy takes a space detour into comics to assess Marvel’s portrayal of that scoundrel, smuggler, and hero
Last year, Marvel released a five part series focusing on everyone’s favorite smuggler: Han Solo. I don’t buy comics, but when I heard about this one I made a b-line for my closest comic shop and bought every issue. This week, I finally got around to reading them.
Set after the Battle of Yavin, but before the events of the main comic’s story line, Han Solo has left the Rebellion to attempt to earn enough credits to pay off his debts to Jabba. He is called back to action by Princess Leia who has a unique mission for him: rescue rebel spies while competing in the galaxy’s most famous race.
Of course, Han can’t resist the chance to prove he’s the best pilot in the galaxy. The chance to make Leia proud just happens to be an added bonus. Han is determined to do both, but when the Empire begins to meddle in the race and the spies start ending up dead, Han realizes he might be in over his head. It’s going to take all his tricks to get out of the race alive with everyone on board the Falcon.
It’s clear throughout that Han’s primary motivation is the chance to compete in the race and prove himself to be the best pilot in the galaxy. After all, this is Han Solo. However, not wanting to disappoint Leia and prove that he isn’t always out for himself ends up being a strong secondary motivator. Not to mention that Chewie keeps reminding him about why they are really there.
Han struggles to reconcile both motivators and find a way to satisfy both of them. For a moment, it seems he might actually be able to do it. But Han makes a split second final decision that proves he’s cable of being the daring hero Leia sees he can be. The internal struggle shows more of his transition from scoundrel to hero that began in the end of A New Hope. Like the middle grade novel Smuggler’s Run, this shows Han’s desire to do the right thing balanced against the loner he’s always been. The story really pushed Han’s character forward and showed more of his evolution.
Overall, I think this was one of the best miniseries Marvel has done. It had a great story that was equal parts exciting and adventurous, a diverse cast of characters, and great character development. A must read for Han Solo fans.