WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Star Wars #54 by Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larroca, Guru-eFX and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
One thing Star Wars fans have debated throughout the decades is whether Han Solo would have made a legitimately great fighter in the Rebel Alliance. We know he had the skills as the galaxy's best pilot and whatnot, but his rogue attitude and criminal past seemed to be something that would never allow him to become a clean-cut hero.
Well, Star Wars #54 answers this for us. While it doesn't sanitize Han's career, it does address what would happen if he did suit up and jump into battle in an X-Wing alongside Luke Skywalker and the Rogue Squadron. And yes, the results are everything a Star Wars fan could ever dream of.
In the issue, Darth Vader and his Death Squadron have all but decimated the Rebels after backing them into a corner. Meanwhile, the Millennium Falcon is out of commission after having suffered massive damage in the last issue. This forces Han to man an X-Wing (orange suit and all), leaving Chewbacca behind because there's room only for one. Han heads out to link up with Luke, taking out Tie Fighters and buying time for Leia and her team to grab special codes from an Imperial cruiser. These are the codes needed to free their own cruisers after Queen Trios betrayed the Resistance, hacked their ships and locked them down, making them sitting ducks for Vader's forces.
However, the playing field becomes much more level after Luke breaks his squadron free. With Han joining their forces, they're actually making a bigger dent in the Imperial armada than first anticipated. What's most shocking is Han actually taking orders and doing everything Luke and the X-Wing pilots ask of him.
Previously, we've see Han look down on these fighters for following orders, even hinting that it takes away from their bravado in the field. Now, though, we see that both style and discipline can be balanced, as Han puts his military chops on full display -- something we got a glimpse at during his early Imperial training in Ron Howard's Solo: A Star Wars Story.
He eventually helps Luke pave the way for Leia to return with the codes and free the rebel ships. Some escape while the rest decide to fight back, as they're sick and tired of running from Palpatine's lackeys. Here, we also see Han falling in line, which makes sense because this particular battle at Mako-Ta is a direct precursor to The Empire Strikes Back.
This firefight solidified why the Falcon wasn't in the best condition in that film's opening on Hoth, and the narrative here also explains why Han was bunkered down with the rebels. We first thought it was to woo Leia, and, while that may hold true, this issue shows it's because he officially joined the rebels (even if temporarily) because he needed transport for himself and Chewie away from Vader's gaze.
His motives aside, we now know that, if Han wanted to, he really could have been a true hero, as he fits right in with Leia's army. He just preferred to be a scoundrel because it seemed to suit his reputation better and because he probably didn't want to let go of his smuggler ways.
He saw the Resistance as a convenient means to an end, although he clearly viewed the chance to win Leia's heart as a bonus, which is why he had no problem playing ball, albeit on his own terms. After all, he's always been about win-win scenarios.