Han Shot First (12)

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han shot first - greedo never even fired - star wars comic page

Autographed by Paul 'Greedo' Blake, Apr 2011

Here it is: the goddamned truth! Straight to you, right now, from 1978!, via the plastic ball-point pen of a 9 year old! There's no denying this George.

greedo shoots first

So Greedo's an even worse shot than a stormtrooper? 2004 version

Even if "the Special Edition will become the only version that exists" once all of the original copies have degraded - yeah, fat chance - there'll still be this piece of evidence. Tucked away, in the bottom-left corner, as if it'd never, some day, become controversial:



Yes, it's one of the most exciting scenes in the film - but reduced to 1 page! How often must school kids have re-enacted this one? But it's the most controversially altered scene of the Special Edition version.

Han in the cantina before he shot first

"I don't have it with me..." Great delivery!

I always loved this scene - especially the way Harrison Ford reaches back and picks idly at the wall behind him, feigning indifference toward Greedo. Ford made such an entertaining debut in these cantina scenes. Imagine what the film would have been like without him? Even my dad - of all people - once remarked "Oh yes, that Han Solo was great in it wasn't he?" High praise indeed! The Cantina scenes defined Solo's character in just a few minutes - seconds even.

Ford might never have been in the film at all. During auditions he'd been around the studios - building a wooden architrave around Francis Ford Coppolla's office door - and someone suggested to George that Ford sit in and read lines to the actors who were actually auditioning. Later, Gary Kurtz or someone asked George: "Why don't you cast Harrison?"

And so, a character in this little film could become legend. An iconic and favourite character of moviegoers.

I have him throwing a nut into his mouth. This was a trick that deeply impressed me as a child. My dad's quite good at it.

Once more with feeling: Han Shot First!

han unbottons his holster before shooting first

Solo fires the first shot - from the biros of babes

This 9 or 10 year old was adamant that SOLO SHOT FIRST. Did you see that George? Bottom left panel. We all saw it didn't we? How many of you, like me, saw it when you were young? Even in the cinema in '77? On a great big screen? I did. I was only 9. I got scared watching Hammer Horror films for God's sake. But was that same 9 year old, horrified? - traumatised? - disillusioned by Han Solo's action? Was I confused because Solo wasn't entirely heroic throughout the film? But the scene was incredibly exciting and memorable, and my Marvel Comic Who's Who page - described him as a Devil May Care Smuggler. He was also often described as mercenary and even as a Space Pirate (not sure why...) Did that then, simplistically place him in the 'baddie' camp of the characters? No, he was complex - and interesting. With the potential to redeem himself. You know, in the Radio drama there's an interesting scene in which Ben tells Luke that for all of Solo's posturing he's not the bad person than he'd have people believe.

han solo marvel whos who

So, a morally-flexible character (From Marvel 1977)

But we don't even need that to know that he has potential for good. And even then, aren't the most sanctimonious of us capable of waiting for the next 60 or so minutes of the film to discover that potential? He returns - risking life and limb - to do the right thing by Luke, the rebels, the galaxy and ultimately himself?

Let's face it. At a basic level, the scene no longer works. It's confusing, lacks flow or excitement (like the Prequel Trilogy). It also just looks crap. The way Han's head is pushed to one side. Fans should have boycotted the PT for this one shot alone.

Art Notes

So was the 9 year old shocked and traumatised? Look at the gleeful use of red marker (bottom right) and you have your answer. Once again, this must have been done without even the comic to refer to. Exibit A: my version of Greedo!

han shot first - marvel version

In the Marvel version - which I still mustn't have seen - Solo shoots over the table. So he was fighting a bit cleaner? (Who ordered that?) But he still shoots offensively - not defensively.

Narrative Notes

My version, as usual, is weirdly structured. Greedo cuts to the chase, straight off:


Solo knocks over a glass (don't know why) and with a sideways glance, spots a Stormtrooper who's still admiring Kenobi's handiwork. I think that's one of the dead bodies slumped over a chair. Hard to tell!

So what does he do? Stormtrooper in the room? - searching for suspicious characters. Does he try to be low-key? - keep the situation with Greedo quiet and under control? Nope. He creates just about the biggest attention-grabbing spectacle you can think of.

Afterwards, the Trooper is gone. Stormtroopers. Useless.

ford, spielberg and lucas in his han shot first t-shirt

Lucas in his 'Han Shot First' t-shirt!

So what's your opinion readers? You can start the discussion below.

As always: stay tuned on Facebook, Twitter and RSS! Until Wednesday then, thanks for reading and keep the comments coming :)



# RE: Han Shot First (12)Neil 2011-03-04 23:21
Wow - awesome and action-packed!
Love the rendition of Greedo (being a Greedophile myself), and the nut replacing a bit of innocent stucco is genius :D
Cool beans!
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# RE: RE: Han Shot First (12)John I White 2011-03-04 23:55
Quoting Neil:
the nut replacing a bit of innocent stucco is genius :D
Interesting perspective Neil. You might be right - maybe that's how I recalled Solo putting his head back after only one viewing - to swallow a nut.

It's funny, the more I think about Ford's performance - it seems almost a precocious delivery. And a bit flirty (weirdly). "I don't have it 'with' me..." mock indifference, slightly babyish tone.
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# RE: Han Shot First (12)Becky Nash 2011-03-04 23:27
Ok, I LOVE the gore in the last panel...the flat head smashed into the table for lack of a face any longer and the blood and gore leaking out over the table! LOVE IT!
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# RE: RE: Han Shot First (12)John I White 2011-03-04 23:57
It's lovely to get a softer, sweeter, more feminine perspective on things Becky. You know, to offset the nasty, gruesome rantings of the boys :P
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# RE: Han Shot First (12)Damien Slattery 2011-03-05 12:15
If only Greedo's ricocheted shot had hit master Lucas right between the eyes. then we'd have been spared this 1990s rethink.
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# RE: RE: Han Shot First (12)John I White 2011-03-05 12:51
Whammo! That's soooo nasty.

Legal: SWa9 accepts no responsibility for the opinions of its readership - George :-*

Pssst: I know George is watching all of this and wants to give me a job as art director at the ranch. Now, obviously he's never ACTUALLY said this to me but you can sense these things.

(I should have leaned back and picked the wall stucco as I said that)
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# RE: Han Shot First (12)Guest 2011-03-05 14:56
I'm leaning back and picking at the stucco as I read these comments. It's addictive!
Plus, it makes me seem cooler than I actually am.
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# RE: RE: Han Shot First (12)John I White 2011-03-05 20:02
Hi 'guest' - thanks for drooping in.

I think we have a new catch-phrase! "Picking the Stucco" 8)
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