The toughest battle Han Solo ever fought was against his own self-interest.
In June, Marvel Comics is giving Star Wars fans a new look at his reluctant shift from so-so smuggler to pretty-good good guy with his own miniseries, set between the events of the original 1977 film and The Empire Strikes Back. Four previous limited books have followed other characters.
“This is a Han Solo who doesn’t quite know who he is anymore,” says writer Marjorie Liu, a veteran comic book scribe best known for Astonishing X-Men and Monstress. “He doesn’t think about politics, and suddenly he’s thrust into this life-or-death struggle for beliefs he didn’t even know he cared about — and it has changed him. He doesn’t want to believe that change, but he has.”
The five-issue story is illustrated by Mark Brooks (Amazing Spider- Man, Uncanny X-Force) and the cover is by Lee Bermejo.
The story involves a starship race known as the Dragon Void Run. “Han’s been dreaming of entering this thing for his entire life,” Liu says. “He finally gets the chance, except there’s a catch: Leia thinks there are spies in the Rebellion, and she doesn’t dare send anyone else to retrieve these vital informants who are on various planets in the system.”
As Han and Chewie start sheltering these Rebel contacts aboard the Millennium Falcon, the Corellian pilot fights the pull of his own ego’s tractor beam: If he ditches the mission, maybe he can actually win this thing.
Here’s EW’s exclusive interview with Liu about the new life forms she created for the story, her unlikely ‘80s movie inspiration (it’s not a Star Wars film), and the influence The Force Awakens had on her mid-way through writing the story.
Plus, on page 2, a look at some of the interior images illustrated by Brooks (minus the dialogue)…
Entertainment Weekly: Congratulations on getting this fascinating assignment. It must be pretty cool to be given the keys to the Millennium Falcon.
Marjorie Liu: It was sort of mind-blowing actually when Han’s name first came up, because when I was a kid I wanted to take Princess Leia and Han Solo and smash them together to create the perfect hybrid, gun-slinging space princess. [Laughs]. That’s who I wanted to be when I grew up.
Not a bad life-goal.
Han Solo has always been — and I think for a lot of people, too — this iconic character who’s the absolute definition of cool. He’s just a total badass. He has no super powers, but he’s streetwise, he’s tough, he’s brave, he’s a survivor. He’s not righteous, but he’s got his own moral code that reflects his basic decency, but he’s not the sugary type. He’s got this hard shell and can be a total jerk. What I always loved was if you earn his loyalty, his friendship, and his love, he became a total softie.
He’s also fronting quite often, isn’t he? What I love is that Han actually isn’t as cool as he’d like you to think.
I love that about him so much… He feels like a real person. Out of the entire Star Wars universe, he felt like the everyman, like someone that a person could really relate to, who finds himself in these really unfamiliar territories. He’s just, like, a regular dude.
When you begin work on a series like this, what are the marching orders from Marvel and Lucasfilm? Since this is considered canon, what are the restrictions you’re given and what are you able to add on your own?
Basically, I was told that the story takes place between Episodes IV and V, and then they sort of just let me loose. I turned in several different ideas, but the core of them — what I kept at the front of my imagination: He’s this working-class dude who lives paycheck to paycheck who has a business to run. He’s the Han we know and love. He’s a con artist, he’s a smuggler, he’s this wisecracking, streetwise dude, but he’s got this internal conflict where there wasn’t one before. He’s really trying to figure out who he is.
Any particular inspirations that led you to the race idea?
I started thinking about this old movie from the ‘80s that I really enjoyed, which is Cannonball Run. I thought, okay, what if this is sort of like Han Solo in Cannonball Run in space? So, I played with that and it finally came together in the story where there’s this infamous starship race. It’s the pilot dream race. Everyone wants to be in it, everyone dreams of winning it. The race is sort of a cover that will allow him to go on this mission for [Leia], but at the same time, even though the race isn’t a priority, it’s a real struggle for him because he knows he needs to focus, but he’s on the race of a lifetime.
He wants to win, right? He wants to do the selfish thing?
He wants to win! Yes, he wants to win!
When you mention Cannonball Run, I think of that as a comedy. Would you describe this series—is it largely a humorous story?
I wouldn’t say that. There are moments — I hope anyway — of humor, because it is Han. I feel like the character of Han Solo is irreverent. A very, serious, precious story about Han Solo would not be that enjoyable.
What can you tell me about the other characters we’ll see? You can’t have a Han Solo story without Chewbacca.
No, you can’t.
I love the way Harrison Ford talks about Chewbacca and Han, where he described them as an old married couple.
[Laughs.] They totally are!
How does Chewbacca feel being along for the ride in this race?
To me, Chewie was always the heart and soul of the relationship. He was like the better angel, where Han is way more comfortable skirting the edges of morality. Chewie will go along, but he’s like, “Hey, man. This isn’t right.” I always loved that about him. I love that he is so incredibly loyal to Han. They’re absolutely 100 percent family. I always loved that Chewie can tell Han these hard truths that Han doesn’t really want to hear. Even though technically we can’t understand what Chewie is saying, we get it. We all understand.
Chewie is kind of like Han’s Jiminy Cricket.
Yes, I was thinking that. He’s like the seven-foot tall, crossbow-wielding, wolfman Jiminy Cricket.