I grew up as part of that generation that had its hearts stolen by George Lucas’s original STAR WARS flick. You know the one? Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca? 1977? Long before it had been renamed “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope”? This was our generation’s Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers, and it ignited our imaginations so strongly that our hopes for it propel us even today – decades later – to continue following it with boundless enthusiasm.
What many of us had wanted to fill the gap in those years between silver screen adventures was a small screen cartoon. You know the type, right? The Saturday morning variety? Practical animation strung together around some wonderful voice acting? Granted, there were some attempts made, but nothing involving the original cast, which is what we wanted.
Now, Dark Horse Comics has kinda/sorta answered our prayers by promising a series of graphic novels far more geared toward the kid in each of us. First up: Han Solo and the Hollow Moon of Khorya!
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
In the years before the Battle of Yavin (which featured prominently in the climax of the original STAR WARS film), Han Solo and Chewbacca were up to their usual tricks, meaning that they were hopping from star world to star world in pursuit of whatever riches the galaxy offered. However, a bad decision on the planet Simbarc puts our pair in the crosshairs of Sollima, an alien who operates in quarters shared by the Hutts. In order to settle an old score, Han is paired up with an old smuggling friend named Billal and sent to recover an accounting droid captured by the Empire, leaving Chewbacca to fight for his life in gladiatorial contests run by Sollima’s cohorts!
Solo has always been a lovable rogue, and it’s those sentiments that are brought to glorious life in Jeremy Barlow’s tale of galactic adventure. In the yarn’s opening, it would seem that his shenanigans have finally drawn even Chewbacca’s ire, making the Wookie question whether or not he wants to serve faithfully aboard the Millenium Falcon any longer. Seeing that perhaps a break is needed, Han begrudgingly accepts Sollima’s mission to balance the scales in exchange for his wrongdoing.
What our captain never counted on was being paired with an old school chum, Billal.
As it turns out, he and Billal were far more than casual acquaintances. In fact, Barlow’s tale postulates that these two were practically brothers; raised in the confines of a school for boys, Solo even tried to get Billal to follow him into the Academy so they could earn their wings together. By contrast, Billal seems like the type of rascal who could only dream big: whereas Han went out and did what he wanted to do, his young partner from those days lost focus when his pursuit of riches never immediately paid off.
As the action unfolds and it becomes increasingly clear to Han that he can’t rely on Billal the same way he could the Wookie, the hotshot pilot realizes he had a pretty good thing going with that ‘walking carpet’ of a partner. So he spends the rest of the adventure trying to make certain he’ll put things right – despite some new Imperial entanglements – in order to reunited with his regular sidekick, and they can continue doing what they do best on each other’s behalf.
As for Chewbacca?
He’s having his own adventure which might inevitably bring down an entire planet!
HAN SOLO AND THE HOLLOW MOON OF KHORYA is published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is written by Jeremy Barlow; the pencils are by Rick Lacy; the inks are by Matthew Loux; the colors are by Michael Atiyeh; and the lettering is by Michael Heisler.
RECOMMENDED. It’s nice to see ‘what could’ve been’ had George Lucas allowed STAR WARS to evolve beyond the silver screen into a far more conventional television cartoon for children. (I write this at the time after STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS finished its sixth season on Netflix and before STAR WARS: REBELS launches on Disney.) The animation here is smart enough and the story is interesting enough to show how that galaxy far, far away may’ve looked for the truly kid-friendly.
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