In Review: Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #3

This is perfect Star Wars reading with the galaxy's youngest scoundrel.

The covers: With his arm around an attractive woman, a beaming Han Solo throws the dice. Behind him Lyttan and Tamu Dree grin ferociously, while Hanina Nico looks bored beyond measure. Even a droid and a Bith are interested to see what the cadet will roll. Unfortunately none of them is looking behind them where one person points out the group to someone who looks like they’re security. This great Regular cover is by David Nakayama. I like everything about this save the computer blur on the dice. I’m not a fan of computer blurs in most comic art because it always comes off as a bad effect, as it, sadly, does here. I trust the artists to create motion in their artwork and not need computer assistance. The Variant cover by Todd Nauck and Federico Blee has Han in the only place he likes: in the pilot’s seat of a TIE Fighter. The top half of this image has him cracking a smug smile as the bottom half shows a trio of TIEs with the ones on the left and right firing their emerald blasters. Great image with great coloring. I’m not a fan of fighters, but these look great. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant A-

The story: Robbie Thompson has crafted a great story that demonstrates how smart Han is. The book begins with Han doing KP duty and not paying close attention to what he’s doing. His friends Lyttan and Tamu Dree rush to help him, but are stopped by Valance. “Leave him, Tamu. He’s the reason we’re here making soup for every grunt in Carida Academy and not flying TIEs. He doesn’t help us, we don’t help him.” Hanina Nico agrees and turns her back on the struggling Corellian. That night, Han gets up while all are sleeping. He cleans the showers, reorganizes the power regulators, and does the laundry. He goes back to bed only to have the lights come on. It’s flight instructor Yurib waking them to tell them that all their chores have been completed with work logs crediting Valance for the work. He’s returned to flight status while the other four members are back to flying something else. Things take a turn three days later in deep space, with Han showing his friends some items he’s obtained. These items allow them to go somewhere they weren’t planning. This location is excellent, with plenty of opportunities to show the cadets away from Imperial eyes and each shines. I love the dialogue between Han and Hanina. On Page 13 a character’s motivations are revealed and they are excellent. The individual that appears on 14 is outstanding, with his look and his dialogue wonderful. The turnabout on 15 is fun, leading to some great action. The reveal on 17 is hilarious, but not unexpected given the setting. There’s yet another surprise on 18, that if one was paying close attention was telegraphed earlier. The final page teases that everyone, including Han, will finally get something they’ve wanted. This was an incredibly smart and fun story that showed a smart Han, though he’s caught off guard more than once. Overall grade: A+

The art: There’s a lot of like about Leonard Kirk’s artwork. The book opens with Han sitting in the kitchen, peeling vegetables. He’s instantly identifiable by the way he’s rendered and the setting is lavishly detailed. I’m a huge fan of circular panels, which always remind me of classic comics, and the second panel contains an important illustration in a circular panel. Very cool. The action in the third panel is great and the volume of action shown in the fourth panel is from a good point of view. With all the chaos that’s happened to Han, take a look at the backgrounds: look at all the details that Kirk puts into his artwork. It makes the action much more real. The actions on Pages 2 and 3 contain very little text, requiring Kirk to really explain to the reader what’s occurring with his visuals. All may seem very normal, but these visuals are extremely important to a reveal later in the issue. The ship the recruits fly is a neat original design and fits in perfectly with known Imperial vessels. The frustration on a character’s face on Page 8 is terrific and beautiful countered in the panel that follows it. That penultimate panel on the page should concern every reader. 10 is a montage of images showing the characters involved in different actions with new individuals. There’s no text on this page, but if there were it would probably be from a Frank Sinatra song. The anger shown that ends the eleventh page intensifies the character substantially, and I love the turnabout that ends 12. I am in love with the individual focused on 13 and 14, with this being one of my absolute favorite Star Wars characters. The spit take is awesome. The first two panels on 17 are laugh out funny. The first two panels on 18 are stellar for their power. The last two panels on 19 are heart breakers. This book looks fantastic. Overall grade: A

The colors: Arif Prianto creates all the colors for this book, making Kirk’s work look terrific. The first page has several characters making life tough for Han and Prianto does a great job in making the throng composed of individuals, rather than a blanket colored mob. The discolorations that are on Han for several pages distinguish him from others instantly. There are several computer screens and holograms in this issue and they all have the cool blues one associates with Star Wars holograms. The variety of colors on 10 shows the wild nature of the location, with it being glittery and bright. Three pages of flashbacks are given a blue tone, which is different from the tans and oranges most colorists do. I like this change of pace. The whites and blues used on 18 give the climax a solid burst of energy. I’m liking what Prianto is doing. Overall grade: A

The letters: Dialogue, sounds, a scene setting, and alien speech are created by VC’s Joe Caramagna. The dialogue is the expected frail lettering for all speakers, making the stressful scenes of the climax come off visually calmer than they should be. The sounds are outstanding, with the opening page having some incredibly fun ones. The scene setting looks great and I wish that the other Star Wars titles used this design. The alien speech designed for the character on Page 14 is fine, though seems a little plain for this species. This is the same font employed for droids in other books, so I was hoping that it would be a new look for this speaker, but it was not. Overall grade: B

The final line: This is an incredible outing for Han and his friends, showing the Corellian to be very smart. There are several fun lines and reveals in this tale, with the visuals being outstanding. I love the smug and angry looks the characters give each other, and the climax of the issue is filled with some shocking reveals. This is fun in every possible way. This is perfect Star Wars reading with the galaxy’s youngest scoundrel. Overall grade: A-

To order a digital copy go to https://comicstore.marvel.com/Star-Wars-Han-Solo-Imperial-Cadet-2018-3-of-5/digital-comic/50349?r=1

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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