Book Review: ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Adaptation (Marvel Comics)

Cover art for Issue #1 of Marvel Comics’ seven-part adaptation of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Art by Phil Noto. (C) 2018, 2019 Marvel Comics and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

On June 18, 2019, Marvel Comics published the trade paperback edition of Solo; A Star Wars Story, which collected issues 1-7 of writer Robbie Thompson and artist Will Sliney’s adaptation of director Ron Howard’s 2018 film about the early adventures of Han Solo, Chewbacca the Wookiee, and their first caper as smugglers in the early days of the Galactic Empire.

The paperback edition followed the release by Marvel of the ebook version by 13 days, and the publication of the last single issue (April 3, 2019) by eight weeks. Featuring the work of colorists Federico Blee and Andres Mossa and cover art by Phil Noto, Solo: A Star Wars Story reads like an expanded edition of the film, featuring slightly reimagined takes on the story written by Lawrence and Jon Kasdan and based on characters created by George Lucas.

The trade paperback features the same cover art by Phil Noto, with only a few modifications that reflect that this edition is a collection of issues. (C) 2019 Marvel Comics and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

Learn the full story of the galaxy’s most lovable scoundrel in this adaptation of the blockbuster Star Wars prequel! After leaving the Imperial Navy, a young Han Solo seeks adventure by joining a gang of galactic mercenaries – and soon meets notorious gambler Lando Calrissian and a 196-year-old Wookiee named Chewbacca! Witness Han’s first flight in the Millennium Falcon – and join him on the legendary Kessel Run! But can even the fastest ship in the galaxy help Han accomplish an impossible heist for ruthless gangster Dryden Vos? There’s more to this story than you saw in any theater!

COLLECTING:STAR WARS: SOLO ADAPTATION 1-7 – Publisher’s back cover blurb, Solo: A Star Wars Story (Marvel Comics)

Thompson, who also wrote Solo: Imperial Cadet, a prequel to this story, as well as Marvel’s miniseries Star Wars: Target Vader, sticks closely to the Lawrence (The Empire Strikes Back) Kasdan and his son Jon’s script in this fast-paced adaptation of the star-cross’d second Anthology film. The comic book follows a Corellian “scrumrat” named Han in a fateful series of events that takes him from his Imperial-occupied home world into the service of the Empire, where the young hotshot hopes to become a pilot so he can return and save his girlfriend Qi’ra from the clutches of the vile gangster, Lady Proxima.

Like most comic book adaptations, Thompson’s script deviates a bit from the film. In one early scene, the writer adds an Easter egg that alludes to Raiders of the Lost Ark, a more Earthbound adventure written by Lawrence Kasdan for Lucasfilm nearly 40 years ago. There are also extra scenes set right before the start of the film in the opening panels, as well.

Unlike Mur Lafferty’s “Expanded Edition” novelization, Thompson doesn’t delve into the beginning of the Rebellion – although that’s alluded to in the Enfys Nest subplot – or Qi’ra’s past with Crimson Dawn. But it does recreate most of the best moments of Howard’s movie, including my favorite bit:

Lando: I hate you.

Han: I know.

Here is the cover for Issue 4 of the single copy edition of the Solo comics adaptation. Cover Art: Phil Noto. (C) 2018 Marvel Comics and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

My Take

Interestingly, Robbie Thompson’s script for this seven-part adaptation does have material based on Mur Lafferty’s novelization, especially in the “deleted scenes” stuff depicting Han’s dismissal from the Imperial Academy and reassignment to the infantry on Mimban. Thompson’s take is slightly different, but the basic plot point from the novel is still there.

Like all of Marvel’s new Star Wars film adaptations, the writer and artists incorporate the blue-on-black “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” card, as well as the same cards that take the place of the Skywalker Saga main title crawls:

CRIME SYNDICATES compete for resources —
food, medicine and HYPERFUEL.

On the shipbuilding planet of Corellia, the foul
LADY PROXIMA forces runaways into a life of
crime in exchange for shelter and protection.

On these mean streets, a young man fights for
survival, but years to fly among the stars….

The only continuity discrepancy in the Thompson script is that he gives Chewie’s age as 196. In the film, as well as in other canon sources, we are told that everyone’s favorite Wookiee copilot is 190 years old in Solo, and 200 during the events chronicled in Star Wars: A New Hope.

The art by Irish comic book artist Will Sliney is good; his style is more impressionistic than photo-realistic, so his renderings of a young Han, Lando, Tobias Beckett, Qi’ra, Val, Rio, L3-37, and Dryden Vos don’t always exactly match the characters as seen in the film.

I can live with that. After all, the artists who drew the six-issues-long adaptation of the original Star Wars film did not attempt to be photo-realistically accurate in their portrayals of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, R2-D2, C-3PO, or Chewbacca. (The latter character’s comic book persona, oddly enough, was more of a brute than the sometimes comical interpretation by the late Peter Mayhew in the film.)

My only complaint – and it’s really a minor one – is that the last two collections of comics based on Star Wars films (Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars Story were published as trade paperbacks rather than hardcovers. Visually, the trade paperbacks have the same style as far as cover designs and indicia are concerned, but they are smaller and, of course, less durable.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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