Expanding the Star Wars Universe: Solo Edition

To quote Ben Kenobi, the Star Wars films are merely the “first step into a larger world.” The comics, video games, and prose fiction that expand the Star Wars universe are legion. For this installment, I wanted to focus on my two favorite scoundrels, ahead of this week’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. So after scouring the galaxy here are the best of Han and Lando beyond the films…

Han and Lando together

These two novels are the best EU showcases for Han and Lando together. While they appear together in quite a few other stories that are part of the larger galactic narrative, their relationship is at the center of these two books.

Last Shot

This novel by Daniel José Older just came out in April as a tie-in to the new film. Most of it takes place between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, though it features plenty of flashbacks to Han and Lando’s earlier days. Older has a great sense of voice for these characters, and the relationship between them. Han is a restless new father who feels like he doesn’t know what to do with his young son, and Lando may finally have found someone to settle down with. All of this is threaded through a pretty weird and fun adventure. This is Star Wars at its most sci-fi heavy (which will be a recurring theme on this list) and it works really well. Additionally, Older seems to have set out to redeem both Ewoks and Gungans in the eyes of nerds, and pretty much pulls it off! This book is crazy and excels on every level.

Scoundrels

Written by longtime Star Wars novelist Timothy Zahn, this novel is no longer canon, but is still well worth reading (again, a theme that will continue on this list). The quick description for this one is basically “Solo’s Eleven” where a bunch of thieves, led by Han, have to break into the vault of a crime lord during a gigantic festival. There’s lots of twists and turns along the way, which makes for a fun caper.

Han – Solo Adventures

There’s more of Han and Chewbacca out on their own, but not as much as you might think. Only these first two are currently considered ‘canon’ but the legends stuff is better.

Smuggler’s Run

Written by comics legend Greg Rucka with great Phil Noto illustrations, this is geared towards younger readers. It takes place close to the time of the original film, and sees Han and Chewie take on a secret mission for Princess Leia.

Star Wars: Han Solo

Cannonball Run. In space. That’s the super quick pitch for this comic miniseries that also takes place between Star Wars and Empire and was written by Marjorie Liu (X-23, Astonishing X-Men, Monstress) and drawn by Mark Brooks (Ultimate X-Men). The Rebellion enters Han and the Falcon in a prestigious race as cover for a mission he needs to accomplish, but Han has to choose between fortune and glory and helping his friends’ cause.

The Han Solo Adventures

This trilogy of novels–Han Solo at Stars’ End, Han Solo’s Revenge and Han Solo and the Lost Legacy –were all written by Brian Daley and published in 1979 and 1980. These, along with the Marvel comics being published at the time, were the first Star Wars works not conceived by George Lucas (1978’s Splinter of the Minds’ Eye was written by Alan Dean Foster based on a concept for Star Wars 2 if the first film was only a modest success). They don’t always feel like Star Wars, and mostly take place in the anarcho-capitalist Corporate Sector. But Daley mostly has Han’s voice and swagger down, making these a really fun read.

Han Solo Trilogy

This covers some of the same ground as Solo: A Star Wars Story, like Han and Chewbacca getting together, his relationship with Lando, winning the Falcon, the Kessel Run, his debt to Jabba, and more formative events for the character. However, rather than just crossing off these milestones, there are a lot of other stories to be told in this trilogy by author A.C. Crispin. Cults, romance, and many adventures all weave together to give the most definitive Solo story released so far.

 

Star Wars Tales #19

This anthology comic features What If? style stories that are alternate takes on Star Wars. This issue features “Into the Great Unknown,” which functions as the last Han Solo and Chewbacca story, with a huge winking twist that I won’t spoil here. Written by W. Haden Blackman and drawn by superstar artist Sean Murphy {Punk Rock Jesus, Batman: White Knight). Well worth the $2 on Comixology.

Lando – Solo Adventures

There haven’t been a ton of solo Lando stories since his 1980 introduction, but these are all solid. The comic and Rebels are both “canon” but the novels are not, but they are all about cons games and capes.

Star Wars: Lando

One of the first comics published after Disney took over and Marvel took over Star Wars comics was this miniseries written by Charles Soule with art by Alex Maleev. This story takes place prior to Empire Strikes Back and Lando becoming a legitimate businessman. In this story, Lando and Lobot are roped into stealing a ship, which seems simple enough until the owner of the ship is revealed. It is a fun, brisk read that has a great dark turn.

“Idiot’s Array” (Rebels)

Billy Dee Williams reprised his role for only one episode of the animated television show Rebels, which also takes place prior to the original Star Wars, but they made the most of it. The show’s main characters, strapped for cash and supplies, take a job with Lando, and it turns out about as well as you’d expect for everybody involved.

The Lando Calrissian Adventures

This trilogy comprises Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu, Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon, and Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka, all written by hardcore libertarian L. Neil Smith. They were all published in 1983, when the idea of Star Wars beyond the films was comprised only of comics and one novel. In fact, these were the last Star Wars novels published until 1991. I’ve only read the first one, which reads as though Lando has been dropped into a science-fiction novel that was already written. The plot involves religion and alien artifacts and all sorts of cool, weird stuff. I’m looking forward to the other two books, especially since each of these is under 200 pages, and they are collected as one volume.

Author: Ryan Silberstein

Ryan spends his days at a company named one of the best to work for in the Philadelphia area, and his nights as a mysterious caped vigilante saving his city from the disease that is crime watching movies. He lives on a diet consisting of film, comic books, experimental beer, black coffee, and those big metal historical markers around town. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.

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