Artist Mark Brooks and colorist Sonia Oback have combined forces and created a world brimming with texture and wonder, one you can get lost in for hours. Brooks’s line work is impressive, meticulous; you can almost hear the stretch of the leather on Han’s jacket and smell the funk of Chewbacca’s fur. Oback’s colors, her lighting and shading, are dynamic, setting the tone and energy in each panel.
All of this talent and spectacle is wrapped around the daring spirit and the world of the revitalized Star Wars franchise. Han Solo aims to tell the story of what happened to its title character in the pocket of time between the original Star Wars movie and its first sequel, The Empire Strikes Back. Han has gone back to smuggling. He’s hanging out with Chewie. But he’s not entirely sure of how else to fill his days, until a literal space race called the Dragon Void Run presents itself.
Han Solo faces a strange challenge. The Star Wars films have defined and crystallized the character through Harrison Ford’s portrayal of him, and they've established what Han sounds like, how he thinks, and what his sense of humor is like. Calibrating the comic’s dialogue so that it fits in seamlessly with one of the most iconic characters in one of pop culture’s most iconic franchises isn't easy.
That opens up the book to more scrutiny.
The task of making Han sound like Han belongs to writer Marjorie Liu. Liu is immensely talented, and her comic Monstress, a swirling, political steampunk adventure fantasy, is nominated for an Eisner this year. But in Han Solo, she gets to shrug away some of the heavy lifting of Monstress (though not all of it, as there are very serious moments in this book) and really embrace a simpler, lighter story. Liu really captures Han's voice and the zip and ingenuity of Star Wars.
But I was really intrigued by how Liu thinks about Solo’s interactions with characters like Leia and Chewie. Knowing what we know about how everything plays out, Liu does a nice job of seeding the tension between Leia and Han — and you can see the difference between how the two communicate (the rambling, the curtness, how they listen to one another), and the spark of intrigue between them.
Meanwhile, Chewie has a certain Groot-ish quality (from Guardians of the Galaxy), and Liu is careful not to overplay that joke.
Han Solo’s first issue is primarily concerned with laying the groundwork of the comic’s premise, but it’s a noble start with a gorgeous story. I can’t wait to see what happens as Liu gets to unfurl her wings a bit more; she’s already kicked off a compelling adventure fit for the legendary hero at its core.
Han Solo No. 1 is available online and in stores.