WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Star Wars #49, by Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larocca, Guru-eFX and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
For the past few years, Marvel's Star Wars comics have been thoroughly fleshing out the universe George Lucas started back in 1977, adding new twists and turns along the way. Books like Poe Dameron are dealing with the current state of the galaxy, elaborating on what's happening in the aftermath of The Last Jedi. Then there are titles like Darth Vader which focus on the rise of the Empire and the formative years of the Rebel Alliance.
With Lucasfilm's anthology films also expanding Lucas' initial vision, it was just a matter of time before key elements from these new movies made their way into the history the other films, comics and cartoons are crafting. We already saw characters and arcs from Rogue One overlap into the Star Wars Rebels animated series, and now, the big MacGuffin from Solo: A Star Wars Story has made its way into the main Star Wars title.
The latest issue, which interconnects A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, brings the hyperfuel known as coaxium into the original trilogy's plot, with the rebels using it as a weapon.
Coaxium was the main driver of Solo's story, as it was the fuel Han (Alden Ehrenreich) needed to steal to pay off a debt to Paul Bettany's Dryden Vos. This was why he and Chewbacca teamed with Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and eventually went on the Kessel Run. By the end of Ron Howard's movie, coaxium was revealed to be the rare fuel which the rebels, Empire and of course, criminal smugglers were all searching for in the galaxy.
The thing is, given it was such a major element of Solo, fans were wondering why it was never mentioned before in previous movies, ultimately choosing to accept it was designed specifically for this flick.
However, Star Wars #49 addresses this head on and brings it into play as Luke, Leia and Han try to escape Mon Cala and the wrath of the Empire. In the last issue, Leia and Co. seemingly lost the aquatic planet as a potential rebel base but while fleeing, they got caught in the middle of a fight between their enemies and Admiral Ackbar's squadron. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, Ackbar hatches an escape route which needs to part the Imperial blockade hindering their path.
With the 'Aurora Flare' cruiser ship on the front-lines and basically in no man's land, Ackbar instructs his fellow Mon Calamarian, Captain Lila, to ram it into the head Star Destroyer of the Imperial Fleet. It turns out, because of the shipment of coaxium on board, Ackbar's turning it into a kamikaze mission due to the fuel's nature being, well, very explosive. In Solo, we learnt just a little amount of fuel could be used to allow hyperspace travel because of how volatile it is, thus making the 'Aurora Flare' a mega bomb.
As Empire's fleet tries to shoot the cruiser down, the explosion creates an opening, thus allowing the rebels the chance to escape. It's one they graciously accept, going into hyperdrive and leaving Mon Cala's orbit. This is a shocking addition to these comics because no one expected the fuel to be brought into the spotlight after Solo. While this is coaxium's first appearance in a mainstream Star Wars story, it leaves us wondering if the rebels did indeed have access to it back then, why wasn't it in the old trilogy? Or the new movies for that matter.
All we can assume at the moment is because coaxium is rare, the mines on planets like Kessel dried up and it became extinct. Nonetheless, with Solo also informing how the Falcon's system was changed for Lucas' original narrative, it remains to be seen what other aspects of the Star Wars universe Howard's movie impacted on, across all mediums.