The allure of Han Solo is one of the most potent draws of the whole Star Wars mythos. A swarthy smuggler with a troublesome past who evolves into one of the Rebellion's greatest heroes? It was an appeal that led to all sorts of stories being written about Han in the myriad tie-in novels and comics... some good some bad, and some completely ridiculous. Here are parts of Han Solo's history that won't be revisited in his upcoming spinoff movie.
Star Wars: Galaxy Magazine #20 cover art by Joe Jusko.
That Time Han Fought a Giant Otter
OK, so technically it's a Selonian, but come on, look at that thing. It's a giant otter. This being Star Wars, the giant otter has a rich backstory, of course — she was called Dracmus, and was imprisoned by Han's cousin Thrackan Sal-Solo (god, more on him later) during one of Corellia's several attempts to break away from the New Republic. Han was also a prisoner at the time, and for shits and giggles, Thrackan decided to pit Dracmus in a fight against Han... but Han knew the Selonian language, and managed to convince Dracmus to go easy on him, earning her trust and eventually escaping imprisonment together. Still, it gave us Joe Jusko's iconic artwork of Han taking a swing at a giant space otter for the cover of Star Wars: Galaxy Magazine.
Courtship of Princess Leia wraparound cover art by Drew Struzan.
That Time Han Got a Whole Song Written About Him
Longtime readers of io9 will be aware of the many, many sins of the interminably terrible novel The Courtship of Princess Leia, which in the old expanded universe was, canonically, when Han and Leia finally married each other. During the whole process of Han wooing Leia for her hand in marriage, C-3PO crafted a 15-verse ballad called "The Virtues of King Han Solo," designed to remind Leia of how good a husband Han would be.
The song was, as you could imagine, an unmitigated disaster, but we did get to experience at least one of its 15 verses in the novel:
He's got his own planet,
Although it's kind of wild.
Wookiees love him.
Women love him.
He's got a winning smile!
Though he may seem cool and cocky,
He's more sensitive than he seems,
What a man! Solo.
He's every princess's dream!
Could you imagine that being the theme tune for the new movie?
Alternate Courtship of Princess Leia cover art, by Drew Struzan.
That Time Han Found Out He Was of Royal Blood
Oh, and by the way, C-3PO calling Han a king in that song title wasn't just an added bit of exuberance from the protocol droid. The Courtship of Princess Leia also included the revelation — designed to further convince Leia of Han's worthiness — that Han was a blood descendant of Berethron e Solo, the King of Corellia 300 years before the events of the movies.
Berethron was apparently a kind ruler and abolished direct rule on Corellia in favour of establishing a constitutional monarchy. But despite the seemingly huge implications of tying Han to a royal lineage, the plot point was basically dropped and barely mentioned ever again in the EU. Probably for the best, really.
Image: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm
That Time Han's School Buddy Blew Up a Moon as a Prank
We know there's going to be an Imperial presence in Solo: A Star Wars Story, but what we don't know if that's an indicator that the movie will re-canonize major elements of Han's backstory in the expanded universe: the fact he was inducted into an Imperial Academy to be trained as a pilot when he was a teenager. In the old EU, Han would graduate as an Imperial Lieutenant, only to be quickly court-martialed when he saved Chewbacca, then a slave, from death at the hands of his superior officer.
Unsurprisingly, Han wasn't exactly a grade-A student at the Academy of Carida. As well as faltering in his academic pursuits (countered by his excellence in flight training), Han fell in with a bad crowd during his time on Carida, including a young man named Mako Spince. In their second year together, Mako stole a gram of antimatter and used it to deface the Academy's "Mascot Moon" — literally a nearby moon with the Academy's sigil carved into its surface — but overcompensated and actually blew the entire thing up.
Mako got expelled, and Han nearly did too, until a fellow Cadet's testimony cleared him of any involvement. If Solo does re-canonize Han's history as a former Imperial student, we sincerely doubt the Mascot Moon will be part of it.
Image: Marvel Comics. Star Wars #17 art by Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Sunny Gho, and Chris Eliopoulos.
That Time Han Actually Herded Nerfs
This one's actually a recent story — and actually part of Star Wars canon, as it came in Marvel's ongoing Star Wars comic. But while origin stories like Solo: A Star Wars Story are all about uncovering the truth behind things we already knew about a beloved character, I really doubt the movie will take the time to show the truth behind Leia's infamous jab in The Empire Strikes Back.
In Star Wars #17, we see Han begrudgingly take on a shipment of Nerfs — basically big, fluffy space yaks — in order to raise some quick money after he spent all his credits gambling instead of buying supplies for the Rebellion as ordered. And thus, a nerf-herding legend was born.
Thrackan Sal-Solo moments before his death during the second Galactic Civil War. Art by Joe Corroney for The Essential Reader's Companion.
That Time Han's Extended Family Started a New Galactic Civil War
Remember Thrackan Sal-Solo from earlier? And Corellia's penchant for breaking away from alliances to try and start its own direct rule? Well, that's actually kind of a regular thing in the EU, and Thrackan — alongside Han's Sith son, Jacen — actually helped kick off the second Galactic Civil War in the Expanded Universe books. Yes, cousin Thrackan was always kind of a jerk, and in this particular scenario, a major one, what with the whole "starting a new galaxy-wide war in a quest for more personal power" thing. Suffice to say if there is any Solo family drama in the movie, it probably won't involve the death of thousands upon thousands of people because of an arsehole cousin.
Oh, fun fact: Thrackan was canonically meant to look eerily similar to Han, just with white hair and a bushy beard. Even if he somehow made it into Solo, I bet that wouldn't be a thing.
Han Solo's Revenge Cover art by Dean Ellis
That Time Han Accidentally Started a Religious Cult at His Movie Theatre
The early days of Han and Chewie's smuggling career were fertile ground for the old Expanded Universe, meaning the duo got down to some truly wacky things: case in point, the time they ran the Star Wars equivalent of a hologram movie theatre.
The adventure, recounted in Brian Daley's Han Solo's Revenge, saw Chewie and Han set up shop on a backwater world called Kamar, where harsh environments made water highly valuable. Neither Han or his Wookiee accomplice thought about that when they decided the only feature they'd run at their theatre was a documentary called "Varn, World of Water" — and fascinated Kamarians became obsessed with it, forming a religion around the documentary and keeping a none-the-wiser Han in business. When they tried to change the documentary to a musical drama, there were riots, and Han and Chewie were forced to close their movie theatre and flee the planet.
The Hutt Gambit cover art by Drew Struzan
That Time Han Was a Magician's Accomplice
As revealed in The Hutt Gambit, Han once entered a relationship with a Nar Shaddaa stage magician named Xaverri, after he and Chewbacca attended one of her performances and became enraptured with the young woman. After Xaverri revealed she also scammed Imperials to enact vengeance on the Empire for killing her husband and child, Han agreed to work for her not just as a pilot on her interstellar magic tour, but a fellow illusionist and con artist. Han spent six months with Xaverri touring the galaxy as her stage assistant, complete with showy magician costume, before she eventually dumped him.
Star Wars #8 cover art by Gil Kane and Tony DeZuniga
That Time Han Formed a Mercenary Team With a Green Rabbit
Ah, the infamous Jaxxon — the Marvel Comics creation long rumoured to have been so outlandishly silly that George Lucas himself allegedly demanded the company stop using him in their original comics. It was only through Han Solo that we ever got to learn of Jaxxon in the first place.
First appearing in Star Wars #8 (the first issue of Marvel's Star Wars comic that wasn't an adaptation of A New Hope, making it one of the earliest Expanded Universe tales to have ever existed), Jaxxon is one of the six allies Han recruits to become a member of the "Space-Hoppers of Aduba-3," a mercenary band hired to defend a small village on Aduba-3 from pirates. Suffice it to say, Jaxxon will not be making his silver screen debut anytime soon, or ever.
Image: Promotional Deathtroopers art released for the October 2009 update for the now-shuttered MMORPG Star Wars: Galaxies.
That Time Han Fought Zombies
Remember when zombies were all the rage? I mean, with The Walking Dead they're certainly still popular, but when they were at their peak, not even Star Wars could escape the trend. The EU's take on the fad came in the novel Death Troopers, which revolved around an Imperial prison barge discovering a derelict Star Destroyer that had been afflicted with a strange new virus that killed people and turned them into shambling members of the undead.
While the book mostly revolved around new characters, around halfway through Han and Chewie show up to remind you that this is indeed Star Wars. It's not great, but at least you get to read about Han and Chewie blasting zombies for a bit. Maybe they can save it for Solo 2: The Soloning?