Quick, who’s the love of Han Solo’s life? If you said Princess Leia, congratulations. You’re absolutely right. Some brief brother-kissing aside, Han and Leia seemed destined to be together since the 1980s, and the old EU only helped cement this notion: in Heir to the Empire, the first work of the modern EU, Han and Leia were married and expecting twins. Of course, Heir to the Empire, along with the rest of the EU, is now part of the Legends continuity, meaning that Han and Leia’s marriage, while still more than likely in the cards for The Force Awakens, is no longer a guarantee.
Perhaps that’s the reason for a lot of the vitriol behind a recent revelation in Star Wars 6, the most recent issue in Marvel’s new, decidedly canon series. In it, Han Solo was revealed to be married to one Sana Solo, a woman who had appeared in the 2 issues prior trying to track him down. Some fans were really put off by this announcement, thinking that it was either out of Han’s character or that it completely re-contextualized his relationship with Leia. Many people regarded it as author Jason Aaron’s first big mistake in his run. I disagree. Simply put, we don’t know enough about Sana at this point to make an informed statement. Let’s look at what we saw in the issue: Sana found Han at a hideaway where he had stashed a bottle of Corellian Wine and she knew about the place when, according to Han, no one else in the galaxy did. Looking at that, in all likelihood, they were once romantic. That doesn’t mean we know anything about the circumstances of their wedding. It could have been a carefully premeditated affair, or it could have been a spur of the moment decision that wound up later to clearly be a mistake. Seeing as Sana had nothing positive to say regarding Han when she first revealed herself, and Han likewise wasn’t happy to see her, they’re clearly estranged currently. The series takes place between Episodes IV and V, and since Han and Leia don’t really become romantic until The Empire Strikes Back, Han isn’t cheating on anyone at this point. If I had to guess, before too long Han and Sana will officially divorce, split, or what have you, and come Episode V Han won’t have any other romantic entanglements.
Now, if one wants to make the case that Han only ever had eyes for Leia, well, then this does cause you issues. But if you want to make that case against Sana, there’s a litany of other characters you’ll need to take issue with, going back to the 1970s. To help show that this Sana development really isn’t something to be concerned about at this point, allow me to run through some of Han Solo’s other lady loves. I’ll note now that most of these characters are from the now non-canon Expanded Universe, but since Sana is a non-film character, I think it’s fair to use other non-film characters who were canonical at their creation in her defense.
Meet Bria Tharen. She wasn’t Han’s first Expanded Universe love interest, but she probably was the most significant. In the late 1990s, author A.C. Crispin wrote The Han Solo Trilogy, three novels detailing Han Solo’s early life leading up to the events of A New Hope. These novels covered a large portion of Han’s history, and despite being released over 15 years ago, they came out after a lot of material in the Bantam Spectra era of publishing. As such, Crispin was able to weave in a lot of existing material on Han Solo, while working backwards from the films to help establish what made him the person the audience sees in A New Hope. Pretty much all of the characters I’ll mention in this article make in appearance in her novels, but Bria Tharen was the only one of them that she created. Han falls for Bria in the first novel, and she returns his feelings, but eventually leaves him as she feels she’s holding him back (she had fallen in with a cult and had developed addiction problems. Long story). After they part, she joins up with the Rebellion and finds purpose, and in the final book of the series rekindles her relationship with Han, only to betray him and his smuggler brethren during a mission to further the Rebels’ cause. It was this betrayal that estranged Han from Lando. It also served, in a very deliberate move by Crispin, to explain why Han didn’t particularly care for the Rebellion in A New Hope, and why he was initially distrustful of Leia. Bria has one last scene in the trilogy after that mission, where she perishes along with the rest of her unit transmitting the Death Star plans to Princess Leia. Again, this was a deliberate move by Crispin, making it that Han wouldn’t have lingering feelings towards anyone living after he met Leia. Bria has only had one appearance outside of Crispin’s series, in a comic series set between the mission that drove the two apart and her eventual demise, but her prevalence in Crispin’s series left an indelible mark on Han within the Legends continuity.
That fine woman would be Salla Zend. Salla was introduced in the Dark Empire series by Dark Horse as an ex-girlfriend of Han Solo. She helped Han and company fight the reborn Emperor, but her backstory wasn’t shown in full until A.C. Crispin’s books. A fellow smuggler, she at one point actually tried to ask Han to marry her after a near-death experience racing Solo, which he declined. Salla was not the only character introduced as an ex of Han Solo. Xaverri was introduced in The Crystal Star as one of his exes. She’s only in that and one of Crispin’s novels, and there aren’t any official images of her, but she actually gets a decent bit of backstory. An accomplished illusionist, her husband and child were killed by the Empire and she would take opportunities while touring to try to get her revenge. Han joined up with her for a while and they eventually became intimate, before she broke it off. I actually like her character a decent bit, which is why it’s a shame that The Crystal Star has a reputation for being pretty terrible among fans.
Those two are Jessa Vandangante and Fiolla of Lordd. They appeared in Brian Daley’s Han Solo at Star’s End and Han Solo’s Revenge. In the 1970s, Brian Daley wrote three novels featuring Han Solo that would later be known as “The Han Solo Adventures.” As opposed to telling sweeping tales of Han Solo’s past, like Crispin did, they focus specifically on particular adventures of his. They take place during the events of Crispin’s final novel, with Crispin giving “interludes” to Han after the events of each Daley novel. Each novel has a love interest (the love interest from the third novel, Han Solo and the Lost Legacy, doesn’t have an official image), with Jessa probably being the most significant romantically (she’s the only one to actually show up in one of Crispin’s interludes). Fiolla’s probably the stronger character, taking part in more of the action, but she isn’t shown to engage in an actual relationship with Solo as Jessa is.
What’s that?! An actual image from the film!? You bet it is. George Lucas actually filmed scenes with Solo and “Jenny” (named for her actor, Jenny Cresswell) in the cantina for A New Hope, with the two actually making out at one point. The scenes were cut, apparently to not make Solo seem too roguish. Frankly, it’s a wonder that Han was ever allowed to shoot first. Still, the fact remains that from the very beginning of Star Wars George Lucas was open to having Han have eyes for other women than Leia. In the context of that, is this Sana Solo development really something to get worked up over yet? Maybe more information will come out about their past that does make it seem out of character for Han, or maybe the two will actually reconcile, but barring anything like that, I don’t think this changes all that much.
– I talked about it at length in the bit on Bria Tharen, but I can’t recommend A.C. Crispin’s trilogy enough. She manages to weave in an incredible amount of preexisting EU material, while making an entertaining story that can stand on its own. It’s not perfect, but it embraces the challenge of explaining Han’s backstory and does a pretty admirable job.
– Daley’s books, too, are a lot of fun. A very different beast from Crispin’s work, but they’re fun and exciting and I thought did a great job of capturing Han’s voice. They’ve been recently republished as a complete collection for like $8 or so.
– That picture of Bria Tharen was done by Brian Rood for The Essential Reader’s Companion. It’s a great book, cataloging every work of Star Wars prose up to its writing, and Rood is a great artist.