Star Wars Adventures, Vol. 1: Han Solo and the Hollow Moon of Khorya
written by Jeremy Barlow
illustrated by Rick Lacy and Matthew Loux
Yet another crazy scheme gone wrong. That’s where Han Solo and Chewbacca find themselves…again. Chewie’s about fed up with Han, but before the two can have a true falling out, they’re captured by a group of gangsters. With Chewie being forced to compete in a violent fighting arena, Han and an old partner of his are sent into the Empire to steal back a droid. Easy, right? Well, nothing’s simple when you’re Han Solo.
Taking place about a year before Star Wars IV: A New Hope, this volume of Star Wars Adventures offers a look at Han before he met Luke and Leia. He’s the same brash adventurer and gambler, with only Chewie to try to temper his crazy ideas. But we also get a glimpse of who Han was in the past and what he might have become if not for a sense of decency and a Wookie life debt. His former partner, Billal Batross, is a double-crosser and a whiner, Lando Calrissian without the class. Billal’s bad traits aren’t a surprise, really, since that’s how this type of story goes, but seeing Han react to them is always amusing. Chewie gets his moment to shine here, and we get to see the strong core of honor beneath the furry coat. He tries to just keep his head down and survive in the arena, using his brain more than his brawn, but in the end, he can’t ignore injustice, especially when it’s right in his face.
Rick Lacy’s pencils are detailed enough to set the scene, but he doesn’t allow the little details to clutter the pages, which is especially important in a smaller-format book like this one. Han and Chewie look like themselves, but not so much so that movements and emotions are sacrificed in favor of photographic accuracy. Lacy’s panels are long horizontal rectangles, usually four per page, making the action clear. And this is a book filled with action, right from the beginning. Matthew Loux’s inks add a lot to the art in terms of shading and his generally thicker lines stand up strong next to Michael Atiyeh’s vibrant colors and Michael Heisler’s lettering.
There is a decent amount of comic violence, as well as discussions of torture, gambling, and fighting, but nothing beyond that of the other Star Wars comics for kids and teens, such as Clone Wars Adventures. This title does seem less cartoonish than the Clone Wars Adventures series, but its grittier appearance fits in well with Han Solo’s rough personality and rag-tag life. This less-juvenile feel might make this title work even better in middle-school libraries, where the students can be sensitive about their comics not being “dumbed down.” Though paperback, the binding feels sturdy enough to survive multiple circulations of what is sure to be a popular title in children’s and teen graphic novel collections.