Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #3 Review

by Dennis Keithly

In Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #3, Han proves he has the making of a scoundrel and how much he cares for the one he left behind.

This article contains plot points for Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #3.

Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #3 Cover

Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #3

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

Han might not be a great Imperial cadet, but he is a natural smuggler. In Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #3, Han has the opportunity to make things right for his fellow cadets after the disaster of Imperial Cadet #2. However, that isn’t all that Han has his in mind has he plots a little detour from active duty. Imperial Cadet #3 demonstrates exactly how clever Han is and reinforces the notion that he isn’t cut out for the Empire.

Kitchen Duty

Han begins his plot in the opening pages of Imperial Cadet #3. He and his fellow cadets are serving their punishment for the debacle of the last issue. They are making soup for every cadet at the academy and the vegetables are literally rebelling (one must peel them just the right way – or else). The other cadets, Kanina, Lyttan, Tamu, and Vallance, aren’t particularly thrilled with Han.

Once their shift is over, Han concocts a plan. He sneaks out of bed in the middle of the night and clears the duty board for the day by completing all the assigned chores. In addition, he gives Cadet Vallance, his nemesis, credit for it. Along with the completion of their duties, they are all reinstated. However, while Vallance gets to fly TIE fighters, Han and the others are stuck flying the Quasar Fire-class carrier the TIEs are based out of. As an aside, Star Wars fans might recognize this carrier from Rebels, and older fans might remember it from its beginnings in Legends.

The reaction of the cadets says a lot about them. Lyttan and Tamu are just happy their punishment is over. Kanina is suspicious. Vallance, although initially confused, eagerly accepts credit for finishing the chores. In a fashion, this makes him an ideal Imperial pilot. They want ends oriented pilots and not necessarily team players.

Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #3 - arriving on the pleasure cruise

Cruiser Crew

Once aboard the cruiser, Kanina quickly takes control. She assumes command, assigns the twins to comms and navigation, and sends Han to engineering. Surprisingly, Han doesn’t object. The reason why makes itself apparent soon enough. The cruiser ran so efficiently that they will be back at the academy a day ahead of schedule. Of course, this seems way to good to be true. It is. It is eventually revealed Han was responsible for the improved efficiency of the ship. He had an ulterior motive.

The Pleasure Cruiser

Not only did Han improve the efficiency of the engines of the cruiser, he just happened to find day passes (one for each of the cadets), civilian attire, and the location of a nearby pleasure cruiser. The coincidence is astounding. Over Kanina’s objection, they decide to spend a day there. Kanina is no fool though. She knows that this side trip is potentially risky to their careers. She also knows that Han is up to something. Furthermore, she figured out his scheme back at the academy a long time ago.

The clues are all there. Han passes some credits to an armored figure when they dock with the pleasure cruiser. Over cards, she confesses she knows that Han was just trying to get rid of Vallance. She figures out the rest, but she can’t figure out why Han does what he does. She noticed Han’s tip to security, and she also noticed that he was keeping track of an Ithorian at the bar. She doesn’t buy his excuse about making up for the mess he caused.

Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #3 Gambling

The Ithorian

Han eventually approaches the Ithorian at the bar that Kanina was talking about. His name is Pjolan, and he is an old acquaintance from Corellia. Han deftly gets Pjolan to admit that he works for all the cartels, and he takes a slice off the top for himself in the process. Then Han asks about Qi’ra. This triggers something in Pjolan. Unknown to Han, but known to Star Wars fans, is that Qi’ra is working for Crimson Dawn. Pjolan admonishes Han about living in the past, and then threatens to hand him over to Lady Proxima and the White Worms. Han is appalled by the small amount of the bounty Proxima put on his head.

Before things go too far south for Han, Kanina helps him escape. They round up the twins, one of which managed to get married in true Vegas style, and they make their escape. Just as Pjolan catches up with them, the security intercepts him and his thugs. Han knew the cruiser belonged to Black Sun. He tipped them off about Pjolan skimming from them, and the admission by Pjolan at the bar was all they needed to hear. 

Return to the Naval Academy

When the cadets return to the academy, Flight Instructor Yurib makes them all write a report. Clearly, he is trying to catch them doing something illicit. The only real concern Han has is that Kanina will rat them out. However, Kanina’s version of events matches Solo’s. In addition, it was her report that frames this issue, much like Yurib’s report framed the last issue. She too has someone back home that motivates her. She formed a connection with Han over this. It is also notable that she thinks Han is a failure as a cadet. Despite that, she respected that he looked out for his fellow cadets, and he still has potential as a soldier in the Empire.

Concluding Thoughts on Imperial Cadet #3

Imperial Cadet #3 is an outstanding issue in this series. Perhaps the best feature was how well Robbie Thompson wrote Han’s cleverness and his street cunning. Han frequently comes across as brash, but Thompson makes it clear that he is smart underneath the gruff exterior. Han’s plot to get to the pleasure cruiser was very well done. Also, Han had enough forethought to realize that Pjolan would turn on him and he prepared accordingly. This is a great characterization for Han Solo.

In addition, this issue expertly highlights the lengths Han was willing to go to for Qi’ra. Everything is about Qi’ra. Whether it was joining the Imperial Navy or orchestrating this side trip, Han simply wants to know she is okay and he can return for her. This issue only enhances Han and Qi’ra’s relationship in Solo: A Star Wars Story. It makes Qi’ra’s decisions that much more tragic.

Kanina was the breakout character of the issue. Although she chides Han and his attitude towards the academy, she has something in common. She wants to be part of something more. However, she doesn’t realize that Han does as well. It is just that Han’s “something more” is something with Qi’ra. Han is working towards that goal. Kanina, has someone she left behind on her homeworld, but her something more is with the Empire. If she survives this series, Kanina might be a character worth following up on in the future.

Imperial Cadet #3 ends with Han, Kanina, and the twins getting reinstated. Yurib informs them though that they are about to see live action in combat against real enemies. Solo’s time in the academy is drawing to a close.

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