Movie adaptations in graphic novel form have to work hard to get my attention. They really do. I’ve seen the film so why should I read the book? Go on “Solo: A Star Wars Story”, convince me. I did enjoy the film and it was far more entertaining than The Last Jedi which sagged somewhat as it tried to pile in all manner of worthy messages along with the action and excitement. Solo is a far more efficient tale, that sees our hero, and let’s be honest, Han was the one all us young lads wanted to be when playing Star Wars in the Primary School playground, in an origin story come heist movie. I’m gonna assume you’ve also seen the movie … unless you live in the Outer Rim or something, so I’m maybe gonna be a little more liberal with spoilers … The artwork is most engaging in a “cartoony” style that has more in common with the recent TV series like Clone Wars and Rebels, than it does with the more realistic imagery in the main Star Wars comic of late. This suits Han Solo’s exploits perfectly as the story is a breakneck paced tale of derring do, near misses and relentless action and adventure.
Opening up on Coruscant and it looks pretty grim. The sort of place that breeds smugglers and gangsters rather than Princesses and heroes. The sort of place you try and flee with your loved one and will even join the Imperial Navy to escape, only to end up in an even filthier far flung world, fighting an unseen enemy in amongst foxholes and explosions before meeting a beast known as a Wookie … The graphic novel covers a great deal of ground in just the first instalment and the escape from the vile worm-y gangland boss, the separation from Qi’ra and then first meeting with Chewie fly by in a manner that captures the mayhem without clipping much of the story, maybe a bit of characterisation, but very little of the story itself.
Teaming up with Beckett and co, provides some respite from the chaos but we are straight in to the ill fated hijacking and before you know it Beckett and Han are apologising to Dryden Vos and hatching anew scheme to pay him back. A gloriously rendered sequence where we meet Lando and his roguish tricks at the Sabacc table surrounded by an absolute Jabba’s Palace-esque menagerie of aliens and beings is followed by a trip through the infamous Kessel Run and the best part of the film, we finally get to the see the dreaded Spice Mines. Disappointingly this sequence is somewhat speedily covered and the hideous slave world that was captured in the movie is somewhat given a facelift here. In contrast the climax of the movie is given the full treatment and if anything, this is the part of the film that I felt could have been cut down somewhat, but there you go, setting the scene for the beginnings of a rebellion is a pretty big part of the tale we have on our hands in the grand scheme of things isn’t it?
Solo: A Star Wars Story does a grand job of translating the wild antics from the screen to the brightly coloured page and adds the odd slither of new narrative, though it does cut back on character development in some cases. I can live with this. Lando and his feisty feminist droid L3, have most of their bantering intact, and there is only the odd turn and wink to camera moment which references the original trilogy. Beckett and Chewie playing Space Chess aside, it’s left to the reader to make the links. The galaxies favourite scoundrel has his own origin story now in comic format and on the screen, and it’s a faster than snow speeder pacing, combined with the fact that there are no good guys really for the majority of the tale, gives it a grittier and much more satisfying adventure than the more earnest intentions of the main canonical entries to the revived and Disneyfied franchise. I’m convinced. Marv Gadgie