As was certainly inevitable from the moment the Star Wars comics license got transferred over to Marvel Comic, the publisher released the debut of their Han Solo miniseries. Yet while most of the Star Wars books have utilized creative tenures from Marvel’s ever reliable bench of comics talent, Han Solo steps out a little using former X-23 writer Marjorie Liu with artist Mark Brooks, a comic artist who was once among the mediums elite in the super hero genre but has been relegated to cover work for the last few years. The shift in talent is felt on Han Solo and as the rest of the line’s titles were starting to feel stale, Liu & Brooks invigorate their Han Solo debut with the writers gift for naturalism & idea’s paired to illustrators Mark Brooks detailed traditionalist style and Sonia Oback’s lush color.
If you’ve liked Marvel’s past Star Wars comics, Han Solo should work for you as they’ve managed to cultivate an aesthetic similar to the mainline Star Wars ongoing, Darth Vader or any number of successful spinoff series. Han Solo maintains the free flowing swash buckling nature that’s become a hallmark of the Star Wars line and injects it with even more personality. The hierarchy for Marvel Star Wars writers has had Jason Aaron & Kieron Gillen sitting clearly at the top of the totem pole above their peers in terms of quality and creativity. If Liu’s writing can sustain the inherent strengths she exhibit’s here in the titles debut, she will be right up there at the top in terms of Marvel’s Star Wars writers. Her dialogue pops and endears readers by capturing the well established voice of the main character while making it her own in stylistic flourishes. Instead of walking into well worn territory, Liu opts to put Solo in an intergalactic race across the nearby galaxy in his Millennium Falcon. While it’s still tied to rebel espionage, the immersion the book takes in the plot’s newly expanded scope of the Star Wars universe is an overall delight in it’s charm and creativity. Liu isn’t re-inventing anything here but she is building into the mythology and it’s equal parts fun and fascinating.
Mark Brooks art is marred in sharp technicality, he’s an illustrator that is drawing the world as it would look from our eyes. That’s par for the course in the Star Wars line but what often elevates these comics is a sense of warmth in the visual narration and stylistic flourishes as necessary. For the most part, Brooks is straight laced but when he opens the visual narrative constraints, the results are pretty stunning
Part of it is Brooks strong technical precision, part of it is his sharp design sense and part of it is just smart composition; that’s all here in Brooks work. Colorist Sonia Oback provides a great assist to Liu & Brooks story telling with her complex color palette. Referring again to the page above, there appears to be at least four shades of blue encompassing different area’s of the spread but while the difference is certainly noticeable, it’s never distracting or out of place. There’s an art to blending colors and there is a higher degree of difficulty in doing so on a comic like this one, where the art’s main purpose is to tell it’s story straight away. Oback color’s are lived in and have a beautiful naturalism in the way they flow and contrast with one another. A lesser colorist could’ve have muted everything to the point of severely impacting the visual narration. Oback makes it come alive.
Han Solo feel’s suprisingly refreshing in how well the creative team can implement their own sensibilities into the final product while still adhering to the production aesthetic of the larger universe. Marvel makes many Star Wars comics; some are great and some are good. Most are fine enough to read but ultimately disposal with some notable exceptions. Han Solo #1 belongs in the latter for it’s innate ability to be original within a pre-established framework, one that is far more constricting then the majority of Marvel work for hire comics series. Han Solo is the real deal and it’s the first of the tie-in series to be worthy of the same category that Aaron’s Star Wars or Gillen’s Darth Vader occupy; when it’s all said and done it could surpass them even. How appropriate for nerd culture original unassuming anti-hero to surprise us once again and how nice is it to see it being done with these creators.