In the main Star Wars comic line, there has been plenty of non-stop action, especially in the previous arc, “Hope Dies.” In that arc, the Rebellion was pushed to the brink by Darth Vader and the Empire, escaping but with devastating losses.
As the heroes fled, some were separated. Luke, Leia, and Han wind up apart from the group (which includes Chewie and the Falcon), and in their discussion with Mon Mothma it is clear that they can’t yet regroup with the fledgling and scattered Rebellion. So the trio turns to Sana Starros to transport them, but they encounter Imperial entanglements. So Luke, Leia, and Han ship down to the planet surface to hide, only to discover that it is occupied by a remote clan who tries to stay disconnected and hidden. Visitors rarely come by, so the heroes are stuck there for the time being without communication or transportation.
So life settles down for them a bit while at this settlement, which is what writer Kieron Gillan intended. But the slowed down pace also allows certain relational aspects to flourish, which of course includes the more romantic elements. In particular, in issue #58, “The Escape, Part III” (which was the last issue before a month-long break), the romantic tension develops between Han Solo and Leia Organa, but also between Luke Skywalker and a young woman he meets named Tula.
While Luke helps the clan’s leader, Thane Markona, defeat a giant beast, Han and Leia enjoy a drink together. They’re interrupted by the commotion with Luke’s attempt to defeat the beast, but he manages to do so. Han pokes fun at Luke for attempting to show off in front of the girl, Tula, who discovers Skywalker’s lightsaber and reveals that it reminds her of her grandmother’s lightsaber. Thane helps Luke train with the saber, while Luke grows frustrated with being stranded on this planet, realizing that the galaxy needs him. So, with the help of R2-D2 and C-3PO, Luke attempts to build a transmitter. A week later, Han and Luke are lying in the grass when Han reminds the kid that he was supposed to go on a walk with Tula, which Luke had forgotten about. Luke takes off running, and Leia lies down in the grass to talk with Han. They discuss Han’s imperial past, with Han referencing Qi’ra (though not by name). “I still can’t believe you were a stormtrooper,” Leia tells him, to which Han replies, “I enlisted to fly TIE Fighters so I could get off Corellia. Ended up discharged all the way down to infantry. … Hey, I didn’t say I was any good at being a trooper. I didn’t have many options… and there was a girl.” Leia says, “Of course there was,” but Han adamantly says, “It wasn’t like that, believe it or not… but it was a big mistake . Me and women have always been messes. Hell, you’ve met Sana.” Leia slyly teases Han for the fact that she actually sees emotions in Han Solo, and the two share a nice chat on the peaceful planet.
Meanwhile, Luke takes a walk with Tula, and she urges him to consider others before he goes off contacting outsiders with his transmitter, as he must consider the wellbeing of the villagers too. Later, at dinner with Han and Leia, Luke gets upset when Leia tells him to give it a little more time, and he goes off to power up the transmitter. Leia, meanwhile, decides to invite Han into her room to show him what she’s been working on: detailed plans and maps for “how we’re going to destroy Shu-Torun forever.”
I’m pretty sure that there’s much more than meets the eye about Thane Markona and his clan, and there are some mysterious elements there that we’ll likely get some more clarity on in the coming issues. And, of course, Leia has been hard at work while stranded here, as has Luke. But I do like the fact that, at least for a couple of issues, things are slowing down considerably so as to focus on the characters and their interaction – particularly when it comes to Han and Leia. This is the perfect time to do it, too, since in-between ESB and ROTJ that can’t happen. It is clear in ESB that they have feelings for one another, but they won’t just come right out and admit it until the iconic “I love you” scene. But prior to ESB, their relationship is certainly developing, and it’s clear that romantic feelings are too.
I also liked the fact that Han referenced to Leia the events we saw in Solo: A Star Wars Story, if only briefly. He told Leia about how he joined the Imperial Academy so that he could be a pilot and get off of Corellia, and that’s exactly what happens in the film. But he also told Leia that he wasn’t too good at being a trooper and got demoted to infantry, which is also exactly what happened in the film and is how he wound up fighting as part of the ground forces on Mimban. And, of course, Han mentions Qi’ra indirectly (and not by name) by saying that there was a girl. He plays this off with Leia, however, and says that he hasn’t been good with women. That’s kind of true, since his relationship with Qi’ra didn’t work out and given the whole backstory of his complicated relationship with Sana, too.
In these issues, Han and Leia are definitely falling in love. But Luke is also given a romantic interest in Tula, and the two of them share a nice chat during their walk. It remains to be seen how that relationship turns out, but I think it’s pretty likely that we’ll find out some more information about the clan and see some developments that make Luke and Tula’s relationship nothing more than a temporary flirtation. But we’ll have to see.
We do know how Han and Leia’s relationship turns out, however, and this comic certainly allows them to slow down a bit and develop it.