When Disney announced, way back in 2015, that there was a Han Solo standalone movie in in the works, I was skeptical. Is this a movie we really need to see? Then as we got closer and closer to the release date and didn’t have a trailer, I was getting nervous. Is this movie going to ruin Han Solo?
Now, The trailer is finally out (check out our coverage here), I have a new hope for this movie. So, from there I read Marvel’s Han Solo Comic from 2015 (you can check that here), and then I was handed Marvel’s Star Wars King-Size Annual #2 from 1982. Bob (AFJ's Editorial Director and self-proclaimed "Jedi Junkie") explained that this was a flashback story that featured Han while he was frozen in Carbonite between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
The story goes that Luke, Lando, and C-3PO are on the planet Ventooine looking for a weapon known as the Shadeshine. They had no idea what they were getting into when they started that mission. The issue starts with our three heroes running from Imperial Stormtroopers, which are looking for the weapon as well, and they hide in a ruined temple. What is in the temple but none other than a statue of our favorite smuggler…HAN SOLO!
From there, Han tells the story of how he saved Ventooine from its ruling class using Memory Stones placed at the base of his statue (Ventooine has a lot of strange minerals that have abilities). As you would suspect of Pre-A New Hope Han Solo, he was there looking to find a very rare spice, but eventually through a series of fortunate events he finds himself in the palace. He “befriends” a high-powered woman in the palace and together they depose the leader, whose power comes from the Shadeshine, and Han leaves.
(The Shadeshine is actually an amulet that enhances the senses of its wearer, but after a year the wearer burns out. Then the ruler enters a cavern that keeps them alive until the time comes that a future ruler comes along that solves a way to reverse the effects of it.)
The first thing I noticed about this comic, especially after reading Marvel's Star Wars: Han Solo comic from 2015 just a day before, is that none of the characters that we know really look like their film counterparts. I don’t know whether the style of the art was dictated by technology or the industry not being what it is today, but that era of comics does not have the same realism that a lot of modern comics do.
However, that shift, from the 80’s art style to the modern art style, also seems to come with a shift in the comic’s intended audience. The Star Wars King-Size Annual #2 was obviously geared towards children in its tone and story, but in a fun way, like your favorite Saturday morning cartoon. It wasn’t trying to be anything more than entertaining, and it was just fun.
Modern Comics, however, are aimed at an older audience, giving it the freedom to tackle harder more complex stories, and have become something more than the medium it started as. At its best, it’s literature. The best example to give you of this change is to juxtapose Han Solo from 1982 and 2015. In the 1982 comic, one person dies (he ages rapidly and dies of old age). In 2015, countless pilots and imperials die in the Dragon Void race.
Honestly, though, the Star Wars King-Size Annual #2 was a nice change of pace in a modern world full of comics that are nothing like it anymore. It was a fun, read that made me feel like I was back home, sitting on the living room floor, eating cereal, and watching cartoons. If that’s not a positive, I don’t know what is.
What do you think is the biggest difference between comics from the 80s and comics from today? Are there any other Star Wars comics I should be on the lookout for? Let me know in the comments below!