REVIEW: Han Solo #4 – “Murder on the Millennium Falcon”

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HAN SOLO #4
Writer: Marjorie Liu
Penciller: Mark Brooks
Colorists: Sonia Oback & Matt Milla

Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Price: $3.99

Release Date: 10/12/16

Han Solo and Chewbacca have made it out of the deadly Dragon Void race alive, and they’ve finally gotten one rebel informant named Bot aboard the Millennium Falcon. Unfortunately, another rebel spy shows up and she’s got some beef with Chewbacca.

Plot: No one can trust anyone else in this issue of Han Solo. Dorae accuses Chewbacca of destroying his livelihood when he shot his rathtar, while Bot accuses Dorae of being the traitorous spy who got the other rebels killed. The Millennium Falcon only gets more crowded as a group of Twi’lek pilots led by Madame Loo Re Anno come unnecessarily to Han’s defense.

No matter how much Han tries to turn her help away, Loo Re Anno has important words for him to consider about his role in the galaxy. After she leaves, he doesn’t have much time to mull things over. There’s only a five minute window for him to join the next race, and he still has to wait on the last rebel spies (who may or may not be traitors) while fending off attacks from Stormtroopers. Can Han Solo win a race he’s not even supposed to be in? And which of his passengers is the traitor he’s been looking for?

Story: One of the best things about Han Solo, both referring to the series and to the character himself, is that he is gruff and rebellious but still shows respect when it’s due. Marjorie Liu’s deft writing showcases both his cantankerous nature as well as his subconscious desire to treat everyone equally. There have been many so-called chivalrous or gentlemanly heroes who incidentally treat women like property, but in Han we have an iconoclast antihero who nevertheless sees women as his peers. His interactions with both the Twi’lek pilots and Loo Re Anno showcase the nuance of his character – he may not be civil, but he is  fair. And while that shouldn’t be a surprising element in today’s literature, it’s still worthy of praise.

Han keeps refusing the call to greatness, and yet he fails every test of his own selfishness. When forced to choose between saving someone else and saving his own skin, he often chooses the former without thinking. He can’t even hold onto a grudge against Dorae when faced with the struggles she’s had to endure since they last met. Perhaps the one thing Han does for himself is compete in the Dragon Void after picking up all the spies, but even that seems to be tied to a greater good. The fact that this series has managed to center around the nobility of competing in a spaceship race seems ludicrous, but both Loo Re Anno’s grandiose speeches on the subject and Han’s determination to win make it seem a worthy cause.

This month’s Han Solo is set up in part as a mystery, and the build up to the final panel certainly turns expectations on their head. There’s enough reason to suspect a great number of passengers and – while the reveal does not come by the end of this issue – the elimination of a suspect is surprising and well-executed. No pun intended.

Art: Mark Brooks’ lines are detailed enough to recreate the Millennium Falcon perfectly, but he also succeeds in making the characters his own. The elements of Harrison Ford’s performance are clear in the writing, but the way he is drawn manages not to be a carbon copy, which helps the character breathe. Sonia Oback and Matt Milla also find the perfect balance of colors to create the sense of classic Star Wars. Whether the story takes its characters to a desert planet or the middle of hyperspace, the art teams works brilliantly together to make the pages of Han Solo appear almost three-dimensional. 

The alien species weaving in and out of Han’s world are all varied and distinct as well, both in their structure and coloring. It’s likely that an avid fan of Star Wars knows which character belongs to which species by heart, but even more casual readers can appreciate the differences in the art for each.

Verdict: Han Solo has turned out to be one of the best-written new Marvel books this year. Though the story is contained mostly to Han’s ship, it is epic in nature and is sure to have repercussions that affect the Star Wars universe at large. At the same time, you can read this one independently of the rest and still get your money’s worth.

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