Written by Jason Latour
Art by Michael Walsh
- The Rebel Alliance is on the lookout for a new secret base!
- Rebellion leader Princess Leia goes with Han Solo to scope out a secret hideout only he knows…
- …as well as the group of killers who want him dead!
As we approach the timeline of The Empire Strikes Back in the Marvel’s Star Wars comic run, the characters are also becoming more of what they were in that movie. That has been nowhere more clear than in this issue – Star Wars Annual #3. The one-shot issue describes Leia and Han’s mission to find a new, secret base for the Rebellion. Han takes Leia to Odona, an unwelcoming planet whose caves were used in the past by galactic pirates and smugglers. Not only is the planet’s climate extreme, but the caves hide vicious local fauna. To say that neither of them is happy is understatement. But, the banter is familiar, funny and very welcomed.
To make matters worse, the alien named Frax arrives with his mercenary friends to seek revenge against Han for leaving him behind after one of his schemes – theft of two tons of cordaxian ore – went wrong. And the weather on Odona is about to get worse.
Frax spent a year trapped in the coral mines and went through many other hardships, surviving with only one thought in mind, to get revenge against Han Solo.
Han and Leia get separated after Han tells Leia to save herself and runs into the caves. However, Leia isn’t someone who leaves her people behind. After arming herself in the Millennium Falcon, she comes back to the caves, where Han is fighting with his three opponents, to save him. She manages to temporarily trap Frax and the mercenaries in the cave and get Han to safety. The suddenly cold weather threatens to freeze them to death. Han is hurt and doesn’t think he can run away. He also blames himself for the situation they found themselves in and faces the fact that he has hurt many people during the course of his life.
They are once again confronted by Frax who killed the mercenaries because they wanted to back out on their deal with him to kill Solo. The two men, both hurt, face each other completely ignoring Leia, which doesn’t make her happy. She seals Han within the cave, leaving Frax to pursue her. Just when it seems that everything is lost, Chewbacca arrives with the rest of the Rebels to save the Princess and unruly scoundrel while the unfortunate Frax freezes to death.
Back on the Rebellion’s medical frigate, a recovering Han thanks Leia and promises that he will pay her back for saving his neck. Leia tries to explain to him that he owes her nothing and that Rebels don’t tally their debts but always look out for each other, working together. Han reacts in that typical – and endearing – Han fashion we know and love. The destinies of the Princess and the scoundrel just got a little bit more intertwined.
Story wise, Star Wars Annual #3 will not blow your mind. It will not significantly expand the Star Wars galaxy (if you don’t count the planet Odona, featured here for the first time) or push the overall story forward. More than anything, this is a character and relationship piece.
We, as fans of Star Wars, know where the relationship between Leia and Han is going as we have witnessed their contentious relationship on screen, but there is something precious about seeing it develop as the two of them get to know each other better. They are circling around each other and flirting through their infamous insults, but the circumstances also force them to see or show new sides of themselves to each other. Han realizes that his actions can have dire consequences for others as well as for himself. He also learns that there are other people except for Chewie who would stand by his side and have his back. At the same time, Leia realizes that Han isn’t a completely uncaring and untouchable scoundrel. It is possible that this is the first time, at least in the new canon so far, that she has seen him vulnerable and open about his failings. Naturally, once they are out of danger, Han reverts to his usual self because that is the only way he knows how to deal with things. Thankfully, Leia is not completely oblivious to his true self.
I had mixed feelings about Walsh’s stylized art. At moments, it perfectly captured the characters and action only to veer into something resembling caricatures. Case in point, on the last panel of the comic, there is an image of Han looking like a 90-year-old man. The same thing happened with colors; the dominant soft blues and purples were perfect for some parts of the comic, but in others it seemed as if the comic is drowned into some kind of blue Instagram filter.
All in all, Star Wars Annual #3 is not something you have to read unless you are a Star Wars completist or you have a special place in your heart for Han and Leia’s romance. It was a nice intermission before we get back into the real action with…
THE NEXT ISSUE!
STAR WARS #37
SCAR Squadron is back…with their deadliest attack yet!
Written by Jason Aaron; Art by Salvador Larroca