I find myself appreciating Solo: A Star Wars more with each passing year. Despite a turbulent production, which saw Ron Howard (Willow) stepping in for Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street) partway through filming, the Star Wars adventure movie made it theaters with a lot of the “right stuff.” The casting of Alden Ehrenreich as Solo, Emilia Clarke as his lost-love-turned-adversary Qi’ra, and Donald Glover as pansexual Lando was top-notch, the set pieces were light on their feet, and the way the movie expanded on mythology felt like a Star Wars prequel done right (minus the whole Solo name origin part). Overly shadowy cinematography makes the movie look muddy, and the script doesn’t indulge in the amount of charisma the cast has to offer, but I am now in the “Solo is totally rewatchable” camp.
And when Marvel’s Star Wars comics brush against the events of Solo, I tend to perk up. I dug Charles Soule’s recent War of the Bounty Hunters crossover saga, which found a way to bring Qi’ra back into the fold. Soule’s current book, Crimson Reign, continues to fill in details on the vivid antihero; she’s currently plotting to take down the Empire, though we know how that inevitably goes. Lucasfilm’s pro-Solo stance had me excited to check out Marc Guggenheim and David Messina’s new book Han Solo & Chewbacca, which kicks off on Wednesday with the duo running a heist and acting in rogue mode. Just based on the first issue, Guggenheim and Messina’s series might be the Solo sequel we’ll never get — complete with prequel details we may not actually need.
The opening pages of Han Solo & Chewbacca do what every Star Wars story really should do: Drop fans into a Star Wars action sequence and introduce a few new characters. With so much of the franchise tied up tin the past, it’s always refreshing to see creators get a chance to add new faces to the mix. In the opening issue, that’s Khel Tanna, a smuggler with zero patience for Han Solo’s bullshit (or his malfunctioning Millennium Falcon, for that matter), and Buck Vancto, a masked marshal hot on Han and Chewie’s trailer during their latest heist. Han Solo & Chewbacca has the whip-smart pace of an Ocean’s 11-style heist movie, and pulls all the trope-y stops. The fun for longtime Star Wars fans will be digging into the time when Han actually worked for Jabba, and wound up in situations like this.
The end of Han Solo & Chewbacca #1 is where all my Solo thoughts collide. Throughout the book, Guggenheim dips back to events established in Han’s new-canon origin story. His big mission even whisks him back to Corellia, where memories of living in the fringe come flooding back. This is a good use of Solo. Then the book gambles on the not so good part of Solo — and it’ll be fascinating to see where it goes.
[Ed. note: The rest of this story contains spoilers for Han Solo & Chewbacca #1.]
While sitting at a bar mulling over how he’ll break into the most complicated vault system in the galaxy, Han bumps into a Corellian old-timer. They strike up a conversation about the ship-building business. They reminiscence. And before too long, the aging man, named Ovan, realizes who he’s talking to: his son, Han.
In the now expired “Legends” canon, Han’s father was Jonash Solo, a Corellian royal. Solo: A Star Wars Story scrubbed that for the better, but didn’t waste time tracing Kid Solo’s lineage. For some, that left a big gaping hole in a universe where everything tends to be connected. Who was Han’s father? was a mystery by modern franchise standards, but not necessarily one in need of an answer — Solo’s great triumph is propelling Han forward, without much need of looking back. (And when his past, Qi’ra, reenters the picture, it’s through a transformation that gives her a key role in Han’s present life.)
It’s unclear how essential Ovan will play in Han’s larger comic arc, and the immediate heist at hand. But Han Solo & Chewbacca has opened that can of exogorths, daring to prequelize even as they unfurl story divorced from most of the known Star Wars saga. Can the Marvel team pull it off? Trying is the kind of risk the high-flying Han might admire.
Han Solo & Chewbacca #1 is currently availably wherever you buy comics.