In Review: Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #1

The story improves once past the movie, though it's fairly rote for what happens to the new recruit.

The covers: Four different covers to smuggle into your collection. The A cover is by David Nakayama and has Training Officer Triosa Broog laying into trooper 124-329, Han Solo. The Corellian sports a slight smile of indifference at his commanding officer as his TIE Fighter continues to burn behind them. This is a great image that sums up Han’s character and his destructive nature. The colors on this are also good, with Broog catching focus and the wrecked fighter a smoldering orange and yellow. The B is a photocover featuring Alden Ehrenreich as Han from the recent film Solo. This is from when he’s still a solider of the Empire, wearing his fatigues and goggles. I’m a huge fan of photocovers and this is one I need to add to my cache. The C is a propaganda poster by Elsa Charretier and Matt Wilson. This is almost sketch-like because it’s so loosely constructed, but it does look good. The sky is filled with red TIE Fighters with a yellow explosion beneath them. Four stormtroopers hold their rifles ready, with one trooper revealing his face to smile at the reader. Below these red colored troopers is a yellow bar of text in red Aurebesh. You can go online to translate what it says for yourself. The final cover is the D by Luke Ross and Java Tartaglia. This is a scene from the film showing Han and Qi’ra’s escape from Proxima’s number one Moloch in speeders on Corellia. It’s a good action illustration, though the colors are dull. Plus, I’ve seen the film several times. If I’m not getting a photocover, I’d like to see this wannabe smuggler doing something new. Overall grades: A A-, B A+, C A-, and D B

The story: Han is surrounded by an endless array of aliens that have their guns pointed at him. He holds his hands up and says, “I can explain.” An explosion goes off behind him knocking everyone down. He grabs the metal case next to him and yells, “What took you so long?” Qi’ra tells him this wasn’t the plan, but he’s already running and she’s following. They jump out a window, blown out by the blaster fire that’s targeting them. Han grabs onto a flying droid to slow their fall and clutches Qi’ra’s hand with his other. One of the aliens shoots the droid and the pair continue their plummet. They fall atop a freighter train and Han figures out how to ultimately lose those pursuing them. Han tells his girlfriend that he’ll always be lucky as long as he’s got his dice. Qi’ra opens the case to reveal the food portions they were getting for Lady Proxima aren’t going to be enough. “C’mon,” he says. “Proxima’s gonna be thrilled.” Robbie Thompson shows on the next page that the matron of Corellian child thieves is not pleased. The next page shows the further misadventures of the pair as they steal for Proxima and eventual summarize the beginning of the Solo film, with Page 10 finally showing what happened after Han enlisted in the Empire. Naturally, he doesn’t fit in, being too much of the individual and not being taught how to fly TIEs as he had been told when he enlisted. His mouth gets him into trouble on 14, but a trio of trainees stick up for him. Once they leave him alone, Han decides to take a course of action that has a familiar conclusion. It took half the book to get to events after he enlisted, and once there it was fairly predictable. How Han is able to get into trouble on 17 was way too easy. With the premise established, I’m hoping to see a stronger story next month. Overall grade: B-

The art: Leonard Kirk gets a wide array of things to create for this book. The opening page is a full-paged splash of the title character in the center of some unsavory thugs. Each of the characters look great and would be worthy of seeing later or in other books. The two pages that follow show his and Qi’ra’s escape and it’s very exciting. I like the angle of Qi’ra’s reveal on 2 and their exit on the top of 3 is thrilling, with the point of view making it strong. Han’s grabbing of the droid comes off as believable, as does their fall at the bottom of the same page. Proxima looks fantastic and I was actually hoping to see more of her, because Kirk does an excellent job on her. The determination on Han’s face at the bottom of 5 clearly communicates to the reader that he’s not going to tolerate her or her goons for much longer. The four pages that follow are straight from the film and they look good, but it should be noted that the line work on Page 9 has a lot of thick line work, as if it were inked by someone different from the previous pages. It’s not bad, but it does look different. The last panel on 11 will create smiles in readers due to the one that Han is sporting giving the precarious situation he’s in; it’s frightening, funny, and pure Solo. Page 13 is comprised of five horizontal panels that show Han’s training. The different environments and actions could be complete stories on their own. They provide the perfect backdrop to Han’s words. The first two panels on 14 are from the perfect angle, with the speaker looking low at her troopers. The smile on this character’s face that soon follows says that justice will be served. Pages 18 and 19 have some very well drawn ships and I’m hoping that Kirk gets more opportunities to draw more of them in this series. The last page is another full-paged splash that bookends the opening of this issue. Overall grade: A-

The colors: Arif Prianto focuses the reader on all the key elements of every panel with his color work. The first page shows how well Prianto works by having Han colored the brightest and the throng of killers around him are in plain colors, making them become a large force by blending into each other. However, take a look up at how well Prianto does a cool light source effect through some grills. The explosions are yellow and orange, allowing Han and Qi’ra to stand out before each blast. The sounds are also in bright colors, reds and yellows, making each panel of destruction bigger. Page 5 is in dark colors so Proxima doesn’t burn. Page 13 is my favorite colored page of the issue due to Prianto making each panel unique with a specific color scheme, yet none have normal colors, instead by dominated by one specific hue. Overall grade: A

The letters: Dialogue, sounds, scene settings, droid speech and transmissions, yells, and screams are what VC’s Joe Caramagna brings to this issue. I’m still unhappy with Star Wars’ wispy dialogue across all titles, but this issue uses a different font for scene settings and it is vastly superior to what’s been used in other books. It looks futuristic and doesn’t blend in with the artwork behind it. This should be the go-to style for all scene settings. The sounds are outstanding, with Han having chaos always right behind me making gigantic noises. Overall grade: A-

The final line: The story improves once past the movie, though it’s fairly rote for what happens to the new recruit. The visuals are better, with several aspects of Solo’s life looking good. This issue establishes the premise, now I’m hoping that the story will explain why Han didn’t stick with the Empire. After all, he is, as he will be told, a hero. Overall grade: A-

To order a digital copy go to https://comicstore.marvel.com/Star-Wars-Han-Solo-Imperial-Cadet-2018-1-of-5/digital-comic/49736?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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