Written by: Greg Rucka
Illustrated by: Phil Noto
Published by: Disney Lucasfilm Press
The Death Star, the first one, has been destroyed and the Battle of Yavin has been won but the entire the Imperial Fleet is on it’s way and is going to burn anything it finds to the ground and then jump up and down on the ashes. So the Rebel fleet is scattering and planning to rendezvous at safe location at an as yet undetermined date. Han and Chewie however are planning on taking their well-earned reward money and settling a dangerous debt with a particular Hutt. But before they can get the Falcon back into hyperspace Princess Leia has a request.
A Rebel scout on the other side of the galaxy is in trouble and in need of an extraction. With the Rebel fleet in disarray the only available ship that can make it to him in time is the Millennium Falcon and it is at least sort of on the way back to Tatooine. Han resists, as much on general principles as anything, but I’m not spoiling anything when I reveal that he and Chewie ultimately end up heading to the planet Cyrkon on the edge of Hutt space in search of a Ematt a fugitive Rebel scout with bounty hunters and Imperials in chase.
Opposing Han and Chewie is Commander Alecia Beck of the Imperial Security Bureau. She’s smart, efficient, competent, ruthless and hot of the trail of Ematt. She’s got a Star Destroyer and all of the stormtroopers and TIE fighters aboard at her disposal and she’s not afraid to through her weight around. Luckily our favorite rouges aren’t without resources as well or it might have been a very short and unsatisfying story.
While over the years I’ve come around to appreciate the journey that Luke Skywalker treads through the original trilogy he’s always been the sidekick to me. Well not even the sidekick, technically that would be Chewbacca cause the main character is obviously Han Solo. How can anyone disagree? He’s got the coolest ride in the Galaxy, his best friend is a giant furry monster, he packs a wicked blaster, he gets snarky with a Princess and is one of the few beings in the space time continuum that can wear a vest without looking ridiculous. I’ve read all of the old Han Solo books and enjoyed them but I was still excited when Disney scrapped the old Expanded Universe because I was confident that would mean new Han Solo stories. And I was right.
Don’t be turned off by the fact that this is technically a young adult novel. According to amazon.com it’s suitable for ages 10 to 14. I would say it’s suitable for ages 10 to dead. It’s a Star Wars story. I don’t think sex or excessive violence or intense adult themes are going to necessarily improve a Han Solo story, though I would unquestionably give it a shot if someone tried.
I keep referring to Smuggler’s Run as a Han Solo story but that’s not really accurate. Han Solo running solo might be entertaining but it’s not really a Han Solo story without Chewie and the Falcon and they are both a big part of this book. Some of my favorite bits are just Chewie walking around the Falcon or Han and Chewie piloting her through hyperspace. There is talk of gravity emulators, ion flux stabilizers, Duvo-Pek acceleration compensators and that’s just on one page.
Rucka nails his characterizations as well as perfectly recreating the feel of Star Wars. The illustrations by Phil Noto that separate the different sections of the book capture the look and kineticism of the Star Wars universe with simple greyscale images with red highlights. I don’t usually pay attention to the illustrations in a novel but I found myself going back to take another look at Noto’s images. Smuggler’s Run is a lot of fun; I can’t wait to read anything else that Rucka writes in this universe. Actually I’m probably going to check out anything else he’s written period.