Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #4 Review

by Dennis Keithly

In Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #4, Han has the trust of his teammates – even the ones that don’t like him much.

This article contains plot points for Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #4.

Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #4 Review

Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #4

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

So far, the Imperial Cadet series has detailed Han’s service in the Imperial Navy as a cadet. Han’s experience hasn’t been great for the most part. Han’s independence and aversion to authority hasn’t made him an ideal cadet. This also creates problems for Han with his fellow cadets. However, Han managed to create some camaraderie with a few cadets by arranging for some impromptu shore leave in Imperial Cadet #3. Now, he and his cadets are about to undertake their first combat mission for the Empire in Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #4. In the penultimate issue of the series, Han proves he is the natural leader Leia claimed he was.

A Natural Leader – The Gold Dice

Princess Leia once argued to Han that he was a natural leader in The Empire Strikes Back. She is right. Han has charisma. People can’t help but like him despite themselves. That is exactly the case in Imperial Cadet #4. As the cadets prepare for their mission, Kanina confronts Han at his TIE fighter. Han had shut off his dampners in favor of additional speed on his craft. Just as he prepares to argue about this with Kanina, she asks him about the girl he left behind. However, she isn’t interested in arguing. She just wants to borrow some luck. She too has someone she left behind and hopes to see again one day. Han scratched a picture of the gold dice he left with Qi’ra on Corellia into his craft. Kanina gives the etching an affection rub for luck.

The gold dice have become an iconic symbol for Han Solo. Originally, they were just an inconsequential prop on the Millennium Falcon in A New Hope. With The Force AwakensThe Last Jedi, and now Solo: A Star Wars Story, they have become something more. They represent Han’s luck, his free spirit, and the good guy underneath the gruff exterior. They are his promise to Qi’ra that he’ll come back for her. The dice are his reminder that there is always an escape – from the White Worms on Corellia, from Imperial blockades, or even for the Resistance from Kylo Ren and the First Order on Crait.

Later, Han’s nemesis at the academy, Valance, takes enemy fire that disables his TIE fighter. This provides Han another opportunity to prove his leadership abilities. First, he attempts to talk Valance through restarting his TIE. That works, but Valance takes more fire. Second, once Valance crashes, Han wants to mount a rescue operation. This creates an issue. The Empire is set to launch TIE bombers against targets in that area. Imperial command forbids Han from executing a rescue operation using TIE fighters. He does the next best thing: he grabs a collection of speederbikes. The rest of his squad of cadets follows his lead.

Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #4 - TIE Fighter attack

Order versus Chaos

The other theme of Imperial Cadet #4 is order versus chaos. At the beginning of the issue, Solo’s commanding officer advises him he might be the best pilot, but he doesn’t follow orders. Like Solo, he came from a chaotic world. Eventually, he accepted Imperial rule and started following orders. “The Empire is order…the end of chaos.” That may be so, but Imperial Cadet #4 makes clear that the Empire’s brand of order comes at the expense of personal freedom and sacrifice.

The Empire’s position is that Valance died when his TIE fighter was shot down. Thus, Valance died a hero because he followed orders and did his duty. Han sees this as a waste. They may not have gotten along, but that is no reason for Valance to die unnecessarily. When he haphazardly begins preparing his rescue operation, his squadmates eagerly join him. They are bringing a little chaos to the Imperial order to do the right thing.

Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #4 - The Gold Dice

Final Thoughts on Imperial Cadet #4

Imperial Cadet #4 is perhaps the best issue of the Imperial Cadet series. However, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Without the prior stories from the first three issues of the series, it loses some of its impact. Regardless, this issue subtly explains why Han is less than a perfect fit for the Empire. The Empire values order at any cost. Chaos is undesirable. Like the Sith that leads the Empire, they dwell on that absolute. Not all chaos is necessarily bad. War is a chaotic event, and Han is willing to engage in a little more chaos to get the best cadet pilot back.

In addition, Imperial Cadet #4 is perhaps the best issue in the series at capturing the spirit of Solo: A Star Wars Story. The pace of this issue is very much like the pace of the conveyex scene on Vandor. It begins with a description of the plan. Then Han and his associates attempt to execute the plan. In Solo, that was the robbery of the conveyex, and in Imperial Cadet #4, that is the raid on the enemy stronghold. Next, things go wrong: Enfys Nest shows up and Valance gets shot down respectively. Then there is an attempt to salvage the situation. If nothing else, this issue captures the Han and the adventure of Solo.

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