There is probably no ship as synonymous with Star Wars than the Millennium Falcon. For over forty years, this so-called piece of junk has graced the silver screen in seven of the ten theatrically-released live-action films, and has been the focus of various stories, reference books, and even video games. In the lead up to the opening of the Galaxy’s Edge land at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, the ongoing Flight of the Falcon multimedia project is exploring the history of the Falcon up through The Last Jedi in anticipation of the ship’s role in the events of the Smuggler’s Run attraction. However, it is far from the first work to bear the name.
In early 1982, the Millennium Falcon‘s first origin story, The Flight of the Falcon, written by Steve Parkhouse and published in the pages of The Empire Strikes Back Monthly 157, whose cover misleading claimed that “Han Solo’s Back in Action!” despite the story taking place before the events of A New Hope. However, even before the publication of its definitive Legends origin story in 2008 (in the form of James Luceno’s creatively titled novel, Millennium Falcon), the events of the comic were largely considered non-canon even before the discontinuation of the Expanded Universe in 2014, and even managed to contradict what little backstory the ship had at the time of the story’s publication.
During the early years the Empire’s Outlands Regions, its ragged borders were constantly harassed by raiders and smugglers from the “uncivilized” worlds therein. Flying specially-modified Millennium Hawks, these privateers routinely outran and outmaneuvered Imperial patrols of regulation TIE fighters. Determined to stamp out this traffic in contraband, Grand Moff Tarkin, the governor of these outlying Imperial territories, arranged an official visit to the Millennium Astro-Engineering plant on the planet Tharkos. Meeting with Director Zoltan Starkid, Tarkin requests a small, fast, and hard-hitting craft capable of outrunning the Hawk.
Starkid unveils Millennium’s newest prototype… the Millennium Falcon. He assures Governor Tarkin that it meets all of the Empire’s requirements, while also possessing unique hyperdrive capabilities. Tarkin immediately closes the deal and purchases the prototype, planning to send it back for mass-production after Imperial engineers had modified it. Though others at the company are wary of working with the Empire, Starkid is ecstatic at the opportunity. “Remember Starkid’s law… war is good for business!”
Unknown to either party, Starkid’s personal secretary had been listening in on the meeting via the intercom. At a cantina in the nearby town of Leviticus, she sells a smuggler the time and place the Empire is scheduled to pick up the prototype. Two weeks later, several men jump the landspeeder carrying the Imperial test pilot who was supposed to retrieve the Millennium Falcon for the Empire, killing his stormtrooper escort and hijacking his ride.
Pretending to be the expected representatives of the Empire, a masked “test pilot” and his escort, which includes a certain Lando Calrissian, take possession of the prototype. After breaking atmosphere, the pilot removes his mask, revealing himself to be Han Solo. Their next stop is Lucre Cosminational Bank on Mazuma, where Han had been left credits by the Rebels for tipping them off to Millennium’s deal with the Empire as a precaution. As the Falcon speeds away from Tharkos, a squadron of X-wings destroy the Millennium plant.
“As Zoltan Starkid stared in horror at the remains of his own factory complex… his own words echoed in the numb space that was his mind… ‘War is good for business!'”
Even when the story was first published back in 1982, the details failed to line up with what limited details the films gave us on the Millennium Falcon’s backstory. Rather than being a modded-out light freighter, it was instead a one-of-a-kind prototype with connections to Grand Moff Tarkin himself (who goes unnamed in the story). Instead of Lando owning the Falcon long before Han had ever heard of the ship, the two worked together to acquire it in the first place (though Lando also goes unnamed). And, rather than Han winning the Falcon in a game of sabacc from Lando, this account has Lando never owning it in the first place.
In 1996, The Flight of the Falcon was colorized and collected in the first issue of Devilworlds, which opening with an introduction stating that “Long-time fans will remember that these early Star Wars comics… did not stick as closely to established continuity than as they do now.” However, despite the events of the comic not fitting into established continuity, some elements of the story went on to be referenced in the Expanded Universe. While various subjects would be mentioned in 2008’s The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia,
In “The University of Sanbra Guide to Intelligent Life: The Marvel Series,” published in Star Wars Gamer 1 in 2000, Tharkos was mentioned as the site where the New Republic defeated the Stenaxes and ended the Stenax Massacres. “Who’s Who in the Max Rebo Band”, from 2003’s Star Wars Insider 67, later mentioned that Doda Bodonawieedo, formerly of the Max Rebo Band, sold statues he had stolen from Jabba’s Mos Eisley townhouse after the Hutt’s death to an art collector on Tharkos. The Essential Atlas of 2009 made an oblique reference to the events of The Flight of the Falcon by mentioning that Han had undertaken smuggling work on Tharkos, while also receiving a windfall on Mazuma. In addition, the 2013 StarWars.com article “The Droids Re-Animated, Part 1” mentioned Millennium Astro-Engineering as being among the Imperial-aligned manufacturing plants infiltrated by the rebel spy Kea Moll, a possible reference to the secretary who easdropped on Millennium’s meeting with the Empire.
Interestingly, The Flight of the Falcon was also one of the earliest mentions of the as-of-then unnamed Imperial capital in an in-universe source, which would eventually become known as Coruscant.
Despite having been rendered largely non-canon within even the former Expanded Universe and far from the definitive origin of the Millennium Falcon, The Flight of the Falcon is still notable for being the first attempt to the tell the tale and one of a handful of stories from the era to actually take place before the Original Trilogy.
- The Flight of the Falcon
- Star Wars Gamer 1
- Star Wars Insider 67
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- “The Droids Re-Animated, Part 1”