Published: February 13, 2019
Rating: Rated T
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Penciler: Leonard Kirk
Cover Artist: David Nakayama
THE MISSION BEGINS! The training wheels are off as HAN SOLO and his fellow cadet’s head into real combat warfare! In the chaos of battle, will Han take a chance to slip the bonds of the EMPIRE? Or will he risk his freedom AND his life to help a fellow cadet left behind enemy lines?
The issue opens on the planet Qhulosk, the location of an Imperial Navy mobile base. While Han is making some upgrades to his TIE fighter, he sees Yurib and Valance talking. Once the conversation is over, Yurib asks Solo if he is ready for the upcoming fight. Solo notes that Valance is worried about Solo flying. Yurib points out that Valance is the best fighter in the squadron and then goes onto say that he himself was a lot like Solo, until he learnt to do one thing: follow orders.
The squadron begin their attack on Howlan, a city on Qhulosk; their target, cannons and shield generators. However, during the battle, Valance is hit, with Han trying his best to save him. In the end, Valance crashes his TIE fighter and seemingly survives. After Han shows some excellent initiative for dealing with enemy fighters, the rest of the squadron head back to base.
As soon as he is back on the base, Han wants to know when he can go and get Valance. Yurib tells him they will be covering a bombing run on the city and that Han is to go nowhere near a TIE. Of course, Han being Han, he ignores this (sort of) and goes for a speeder. The rest of his squadron decide to go with him and try and save Valance…
Issue three left me with a huge thirst to find out what would happen in this issue and issue four does not disappoint. I’m going to start with something that I usually gloss over in my reviews; the artwork. I always mention it but not in the way I do the writing, because after all, it’s usually the writing that drives the story. This issue felt very different for me. The first several panels are done without any words and there are many parts throughout the rest of the comic that are similarly ‘silent’. This really is a testament to the skill of Leonard Kirk, that he can continue the story with just his artwork. There are parts that were incredible, the shot of Han with his TIE pilot helmet ‘on’ and yet we can still see his face, was magnificent. And the action shots of the battle in the city of Howlan were equally mesmerizing. I have always been a fan of Kirk’s work in this series, yet he really has outdone himself in this issue.
Right, back to the writing. I am really enjoying the character of Yurib. He is fascinating. Yurib seems to be Thompson’s version of Han if he had become an Imperial. In this issue, we hear him say he was a lot like Han but he learnt to follow orders. We know for Han that this will never be the case, but Thompson treats us to a view of what Han could have become if he had learnt to squash his independent thinking. It’s an interesting comparison to make and I wonder if it will play any further part in the final issue.
The other part I really liked in this issue, is Han’s team mates following him as an example. Han is tinkering with his ship, making changes that then prompt the rest of the squadron (or at least most of them) to do the same. Han is a leader, even at this stage of his life, even if he doesn’t quite realise it yet. It’s the prelude to him leading troops for the Rebellion. This also helps to explain the end of the comic when his team mates are then happy to follow him on a rescue mission; he leads and inspires.
This whole series always comes back to one thing; Qi’ra. She is the reason Han is doing all this and (like in previous issues) she keeps getting mentioned to show that she is always on his mind. This, coupled with the image of the dice (a brilliant idea I may add!) really helps to link this series back to Solo.
This series has very quickly become one of my favourites. As a child, I always wondered and imagined what Han did before A New Hope and it is wonderful to have that thirst quenched. The writing is superb, with little nods for fans throughout, and the artwork will make you gasp. My only complaint? One issue left. I can’t believe that this is only a five issue series, it seems wrong. There is so much potential here that I just can’t see why Marvel didn’t make this an ongoing series. I’m hoping next issue will leave the door wide open for Thompson and Kirk to come back, as this is the sort of Star Wars I could read again and again.
Han Solo – Imperial Cadet is a series available from Marvel. This issue is available via the Marvel App and all good comic book stores. This issue retails at $3.99.