Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #1 Review

by Dennis Keithly

Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #1 begins to fill in the missing scenes of Han’s time with the Imperial Navy from Solo: A Star Wars Story.

This article contains plot points for Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #1.

Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #1 Cover

Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #1

Writer: Robbie Thompson | Artist: Leonard Kirk | Colorist: Arif Prianto | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Cover Artist: David Nahayama | Production Designer: Anthony Gambino | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia

Solo: A Star Wars Story answered the question of how Han began his career as a smuggler. Audiences learned of his life on the streets of Corellia, his membership with Lady Proxima’s White Worms, how he escaped from her clutches, and ultimately how he came to serve in the Imperial infantry on Mimban. Much of this story is repeated in the adaptation of Solo. Robbie Thompson, the writer for Solo, is back with another tale of Han Solo’s history. This time, he is focusing on Han’s life in the Imperial Naval Academy on Carida with Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #1.

Familiar Ground

If there is a criticism of Imperial Cadet #1, it is that it covers story already covered in Solo #1. Both series begin with Han and Qi’ra fleeing from the White Worms. Of course, Solo #1 has a truncated version of Han’s experience at the Imperial Academy that focuses on his expulsion and reassignment to the infantry. In fact, Han’s experience with the Academy takes less than three pages in Solo #1.

Interestingly, three panels from Solo #1 summarize the events of Imperial Cadet #1. First is Han’s experience with the obstacle course in the rain. The next panel features him fighting with fellow cadets. Finally, the third panel depicts his theft of a TIE fighter. All these events are expanded upon in Imperial Cadet #1.

Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #1 - How does this teach us to fly?

Not Imperial Material

As Han says in both Solo: A Star Wars Story and the adaptation, he was kicked out for having a mind of his own. Imperial Cadet #1 demonstrates just how much that was the case. Han can’t help but rebel a little at every opportunity while in the academy. He protests against the Imperial delousing techniques. Then he makes snide jokes to the grooming droids. In the Imperial dormitory, he tries making friends and introducing himself, but nobody is interested. Despite receiving an identification number, he clings to his name, even though his last name was also given to him by the Empire. The symbolism of clinging to his name and rejecting the number is obvious for a nonconformist like Solo.

On a obstacle training course, Han asks the natural question, “How does this teach us to fly?” Indeed, he and his fellow cadets are crawling through the rain and mud. This technique has nothing to do with a cockpit. However, his inquisitiveness backfires. His instructor, Training Officer Triosa Broog, forces Han and his squad to run up a mountain in full gear twice as an answer. Naturally, this doesn’t make Han any friends. Three other cadets do come to his aid though and establish themselves as characters likely to appear in future issues of this series.

Imperial Joyride

Han eventually has enough of the Imperial method of training. Therefore, he puts what he learned crawling through the mud to good use. “Good” is a subjective term. In short, he steals a TIE fighter. He wants to go back to Corellia. Of course, the obvious flaw with his plan is that TIE fighters don’t have hyper drives. The other problem with his plan is that he isn’t particularly good at flying TIE fighters yet. His joyride causes several other fighters to crash. Han then crashes his own TIE fighter as the issue concludes. Obviously, Han isn’t yet the best pilot in the galaxy he hopes to become.

Han Solo Imperial Cadet #1 - Training Officer

Concluding Thoughts on Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #1

Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #1 certainly keeps with the spirit of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Han is impulsive and eager. He never loses sight of his goal: get back to Corellia and Qi’ra. Plus, Han maintains the same sense of humor and sarcastic wit that Alden Ehrenreich portrayed him with in the movie. In summary, this comic feels like it might have been cut straight from the movie.

However, although Imperial Cadet #1 is enjoyable, it is unclear what this comic really adds to Solo: A Star Wars Story. As mentioned earlier, three pages in Solo #1 adequately told Han’s experience in the Imperial Academy. For that matter, Han’s line in the movie, “I was kicked out of the academy for having a mind of my own,” more than adequate to explain why he suddenly found himself in the infantry. Plus, Han’s experience on the obstacle course on Carida isn’t all that different than his service in the mud on Mimban. Perhaps these scenes were cut from the film for that reason?

That isn’t to say that this series has no merit. Far from it. This story is fun. There is a real sense of adventure. The risk is that Han comes off as clumsy and bumbling. Imperial Cadet #1 begins and ends with a full-page panel of Han saying, “I can explain” to authority figures after some disaster. This isn’t the confident Han Solo everyone knows from A New Hope and the other original trilogy films. Perhaps Han is just doing what he says he always does in The Force Awakens: talking his way out of things.

In conclusion, this is a fun issue that sets up what promises to be a fun story. Fans of Solo: A Star Wars Story should really enjoy this.

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