A Valentine Story Breaking the Ice
Story: Judd Winick
Art: Paul Chadwick
Coloring: Ken Steacy
Lettering: Jason Hvam
Cover: Paul Chadwick
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (01/07/2007)
The Rebel fleet is in orbit above Hoth while the base is being prepared. Han Solo volunteers to fly a supply vessel down to the surface while the storm is cleared. The carriers are offline, and repairs on Falcon are not complete so the only ships available are a pair of twin M-class fighters. One of the fighters has a busted navicom so Leia decides to go along with Han while Chewbacca flies the other fighter. As the arrive in atmosphere, a storm hits again and Chewie's ship veers off course. One of the engines on Han and Leia's ship gets damaged and their ship crashes in the snow. Han walks outside to go look for Chewie, but the cold ovecomes him. While they wait for the storm to pass, Han worries about his lost friend, and him and Leia get to know each other better.
This one should win the "worst Star Wars title ever" prize. I think they should have stuck with "Breaking the Ice" instead of something about a holiday that doesn't exist in the Star Wars universe. What next? Star Wars: A Halloween Story? Anyway, this comic is not technically part of the Empire series, but it was collected in Empire Vol. 4 TPB. It takes place some time before The Empire Strikes Back (Han mentions that he's leaving in a week, but of course there will be delays so it doesn't mean it's one week before the movie.)
Reading the story, I get the feeling that Winick doesn't know many details about Star Wars. He uses terms like "navicom" and "hydroboosters" which don't make much sense, plus the reason they go down to the surface in the first place is a bit unclear (see my summary above). But all this is secondary; this is a personal story about characters. Even though this is a one-shot deal for the writer, his love of Star Wars shows through his characterizations. The dialogue is very well-written and makes the characters very human. It's also very emotional: Han and Leia's verbal fighting is intense (and even comes to blows) and sometimes humorous; Han's worry for his best friend is touching; and Leia warming up to Han is heartwarming. She even asks him about his chin scar, which he says he got during a knife fight. Aside from the more technical stuff, the story is well written and the characters are believable. The story that Han tells Leia to illustrate his friendship with Chewie, about an encounter with Natalon Core bandits during a Barcarian claw salt run, is worth the cover price alone.
I'm not a big fan of Paul Chadwick, and even less of Ken Steacy's coloring work. The main characters are mostly recognizable though, and the design of the M-class fighters (they are really like Y-wings except they have three engines so maybe they should be called W-wings?) is new and brings a cool new element to the EU. I'm sure Chadwick is great when he's in his own element (Concrete) but maybe illustrating licensed characters and starships is not his strong suit.
A nice personal story starring two of the main characters, with good characterization.
Rating: 7 / 10 Recommended