HEAT VISION

'Solo' Breakout Has Obscure Roots in 'Star Wars' Comics

Enfys Nest's group the Cloud Riders date back to a comic that debuted in October 1977.
'Solo: A Star Wars Story'
Enfys Nest's group the Cloud Riders date back to a comic that debuted in October 1977.

[This story contains spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story.]

There’s a certain element of symmetry at play in Solo: A Star Wars Story. In addition to the obvious Easter eggs in the movie — from finally showing oft-mentioned moments of Han Solo’s mythology, whether it’s the Kessel Run or Han winning the Millennium Falcon from Lando, to working in the Falcon dice given screen time in last year’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi — there’s a more subtle nod to the character’s past in the movie: the appearance of the villains from the very first solo Han Solo story ever told.

As perhaps might be expected, the first storyline of Marvel’s original Star Wars that followed the adaptation of the original movie was a little rough around the edges. Indeed, the four-part story — which ran from October 1977’s seventh issue through January 1978’s tenth — is, in many ways, one that would be as primed for Lucasfilm to try to forget as the infamous Holiday Special. While the plot is solid, with Han Solo and Chewbacca essentially acting out a Star Wars take on The Magnificent Seven, the execution is somewhat…unusual, shall we say.

For one thing, there’s the portrayal of Solo himself, who is far more eager to be a hero than later movies would establish (“After all that battle action, I’d give my star-spurs to stay there and help Princess Leia regroup the Rebels,” he says at one point), although that’s easily explained away by how early in the franchise’s existence the story was published. Less understandable are the comrades Solo gathers together to defend the alien village. Even if you can overlook the human-size green rabbit called Jaxxon, there’s also the aged Jedi Knight called, with almost breathtaking shamelessness, Don-Wan Kihotay. Well…it’s not a million miles away from Obi-Wan Kenobi, I guess.

It is, however, who Don-Wan, Han and Jax are defending the village from that connects the 1977 comic book to the new movie. Because the villains of the piece are the Cloud-Riders…which just so happens to be the same name as the group Enfys Nest (Erin Kellyman) flies with in Solo.

The name is just about all the two groups have in common, however. For one thing, Enfys Nest is nowhere to be found in the Cloud-Riders’ comic book appearances, where they’re instead led by a pirate called Serji-X Arrogantus (again with the unsubtle names). For another, the comic book Riders are both more low-key in their ambitions, preferring to stay on the planet Aduba-3 rather than the cinematic group that travels around the galaxy, and more evil; whereas Solo reveals that the Riders are, if not the good guys, then certainly not the true villains of the piece, the original take on the Cloud-Riders are cartoonishly evil. Even the design of their flying bikes are different.

Despite this, Solo screenwriter Jonathan Kasdan has confirmed that the movie Cloud-Riders are, indeed, based on the comic book characters:

Enfys Nest and friends should be glad they’re not simply a straight translation of the comic book originals; if that was the case, the movie wouldn’t have gone too well for them — Serji-X and his criminal compatriots met an unfortunate end when their fight with Han and friends was interrupted by a giant monster who literally stomped the villains to death. Perhaps there’s a lesson in there about the value of doing the right thing. Sure, Enfys Nest and the cinematic Cloud Riders (no hyphen for them) didn’t end the movie in the best of places — but at least they weren’t squashed to death.

With a cut this deep, perhaps Solo should be considered the most fan service-y of all Star Wars movies to date — and a challenge to future filmmakers. First one to introduce Don-Wan Kihotay in canon wins a whole new level of appreciation.

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