In Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #5, Han proves he is a hero and not a soldier, and therefore, not ideally suited to serve the Empire.
This article contains plot points for Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #5.
Han Solo: Imperial Cadet #5
Writer: Robbie Thompson | Artist: Leonard Kirk | Inkers: Daniele Orlandini and Cory Hamscher | Colorist: Arif Prianto | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Cover Artist: David Nahayama | Production Designer: Anthony Gambino | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia
Readers of the Han Solo: Imperial Cadet series always had some idea where this series would end up. Solo: A Star Wars Story made it clear that Han just wasn’t Imperial material. As he put it, he was kicked out of the academy for having a mind of his own. During the run of Imperial Cadet, Han’s actions proved time and again that he was better suited elsewhere. The only remaining question was what finally did it? What finally drove him out of the flight academy? Imperial Cadet #5 answers that question and why Han was never going to last in the Empire.
In Imperial Cadet #4, Han’s rival Beilert Valance, was shot down during a mission he, Han, and other cadets flew for the Empire. Despite Han’s desire to rescue Valance, the Empire essentially declared him dead. If Valance weren’t dead, he soon would be as the Empire planned a bombing run in the very area Valance crashed. That doesn’t sit well with Han. So, he does what one would expect of him. He mounts a rescue mission, and being the natural leader that Leia would later say he was, his fellow cadets join him.
The rescue mission is successful, and Han and his friends find Valance. Much to Valance’s disappointment, he learns that the Empire didn’t send Han. It is an uncomfortable truth that Valance is expendable in the eyes of the Empire and his rescue isn’t worth it according to the calculus the Empire employs. This is a lesson that reinforced later in Imperial Cadet #5 when the Empire refuses to pay for cybernetic replacements for the organs and limbs Valance lost in his service.
Other Uncomfortable Lessons
Han’s rescue mission in Imperial Cadet #5 is enlightening for another member of his team as well. Kanina looked at the Empire as a way to serve something bigger than herself and as an opportunity to protect someone she cared for. However, their mission reveals an unfortunate reality about the Empire: they provide peace and security to the galaxy as a whole by sacrificing some of the parts.
They encounter the Ghulars, who were a slave race to the Qhuloskians. Their slave labor was devoted to mining farium, a rare material used in the construction of starship armor. The Empire subjected the Ghulars to the same sort of slavery as Qhuloskians. This strikes a nerve with Kanina. The planet she is from also mines farium. The one she left behind, Weegee, is also a miner. In that moment, Kanina realizes that fighting for the Empire means she’ll be ensuring Weegee’s enslavement when the Empire arrives.
Han finds a way out for her though. They let the Ghular flee in escape pods from a nearby, crashed starship. There is one left. So, Han compels Kanina to fake her own death and escape in the last pod. She gets away with the hope that she can save Weegee and her people.
Not a Soldier
As Imperial Cadet #5 ends, Solo is arrested and sent to the stockade. He disobeyed orders in rescuing Valance. Furthermore, he is held responsible for “Kanina’s death.” As Han sits in his cell and contemplates his future, his instructor’s lecture appears in text boxes. He hopes that Han learned his actions were foolish and wasteful, that he is part of something larger, the Empire needs soldiers and not heroes, and that someday he’ll know the difference. Of course, Han does know the difference. He was never cut out to be a soldier. As Qi’ra will tell him sometime later, he is the good guy.
The good guy is also the hero. Even in a moment of doubt, Han will always choose the heroic path. He did that on Savareen when agreed to turn over the coaxium to Enfys Nest rather than give it to Dryden Vos. Later, he’ll make the heroic choice again when he flies to Luke’s rescue during the Battle of Yavin. Han just has a hero in him.
Concluding Thoughts on Imperial Cadet #5
With the conclusion of Imperial Cadet #5, Han is now in place to meet Beckett and his gang on Mimban, as seen in Solo: A Star Wars Story. His time in the Empire is rapidly drawing to a close. He even admits to Kanina that he’ll likely try to leave the Empire the next day. The Imperial Cadet series covers the three years between Han’s escape from Corellia and his arrival on Mimban.
Imperial Cadet is a worthy story and likely could have been a fine movie in its own right. It combines well with Lando: Double or Nothting and Beckett #1 to create an expanded story that compliments Solo very well. Solo: A Star Wars Story might not ever get a sequel in the theaters, but Thompson and the creative team proved there are plenty of stories to tell around the film.
Dennis Keithly is a graduate of the University of Missouri, North Texas attorney, husband, father of two, and co-host of Starships, Sabers, and Scoundrels. In addition to Star Wars, Dennis is a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and super heroes in general. When not engaged in fictional universes, Dennis is reading a good book or watching the NHL, football, or studying the NFL draft.