Star Wars: Han Solo - Imperial Cadet #1 Review

by Kaasen Koy on November 07, 2018

Han Solo - Imperial Cadet #1 Cover

Writer: Robbie Thompson

Artist: Leonard Kirk

Colorist: Arif Prianto

Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Publisher: Marvel


Running alongside the comic adaptation of Solo - A Star Wars Story, Star Wars: Han Solo - Imperial Cadet #1 gives readers a closer look at the infamous smuggler’s days in the Imperial Navy Academy on Carida - when he flew fighters instead of freighters.


Marvel is only running two Star Wars miniseries right now and they’re both about the same character, at roughly the same point in his life... and the entirety of Imperial Cadet will take place in the margins of only two pages from the first issue of the Solo adaptation. Both begin with the same sort of throwaway heist, in media res, too afraid to stick to the script (of the Solo movie). Afterward, both comics have followed their respective heists with the same scene: Han and Qi’ra getting separated at the spaceport on Corellia. This means that Imperial Cadet #1 is showing us a scene - word-for-word - that we’ve already seen elsewhere twice this year, and once in another comic in just the past few weeks.


Many of my issues with Imperial Cadet #1 do not belong to the comic by itself, rather how it fits in with the other running comic starring Han. Working with the Solo movie adaptation, they could each set up references and taken turns unpacking them to create a deeply interconnected backstory. Instead, it feels like Marvel’s movie adaptation stole Imperial Cadet’s best moments and delivered them rapidly in montage. They’re not references, so much as summaries of the events that Issue #1 (and future issues of Imperial Cadet) will deliver. 


The comic isn’t allowed to break new ground until its halfway point and because of that, many of the points it tries to make feel rushed and its plans harebrained. Han comes off as stupid. It’s made clear to him multiple times that he must survive basic training before he can hope to train as a pilot. In basic training he gets his whole squad punished for questioning what this infantry training has do with learning to pilot a fighter. With multiple writers at Marvel currently evoking Han’s voice effectively, it’s a shame that Thompson hasn’t found it yet.


The art is serviceable and works best in darker scenes and wide, cinematic panels. Close up and in bright settings, either the art or the color - or both - create an odd, claylike quality to character faces. In particular, Han often looks like he’s just come from a botched Botox session and it can pull you right out of a page. He never looks like Ford, almost never like Ehrenreich, and often has well-defined, deliberate features... that share no resemblance with the character you know.


In my review for Solo - A Star Wars Story #1, I said that it felt that comic was nearly just an advertisement for the Imperial Cadet series. It seems it was the kind of advertisement that gives away the whole plot and all the biggest moments. I’m still optimistic for this series, and future issues should be able to move out from under the shadow of the movie and it’s comic adaptation (which is already beyond Han’s academy days by the end of the first issue). I just hope Imperial Cadet learns faster than its namesake.

Our Score:


A Look Inside