On a quest to discover more about Boba Fett in anticipation of The Book of Boba Fett coming out this winter, I was intrigued by War of the Bounty Hunters, a short comic book series that takes place in the short time between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Star Wars comics and me have an on-again, off-again relationship; often I choose certain storylines and follow them to completion but the timelines and restarting of series often confuses me. However, this series seemed accessible and there was a fair amount of hype from creators. I’m always intrigued by Charles Soule, too, who authored this comic, as he seems to take story risks that leave an impression on the fandom.
The first thing to cover about this comic is that it’s gorgeous. Luke Ross, the artist, leans hard on cool tones; some of the panels are really breathtaking. Some of the ship designs, too, like the Vermillion, that slightly resembles a butterfly and feels overtly feminine, are really gorgeous. I always appreciate overt stylistic risks like this in comics, where I feel design risks can and should be made.
War of the Bounty Hunters #1 begins with a crawl that explains that Han Solo in carbonite was stolen from Fett on Nar Shaddaa, and the conceit of the entire issue begins: “Who would dare steal from the galaxy’s most dangerous bounty hunter?” Soon we meet the people who stole him, and the person they deliver Solo in carbonite to is a hooded, albeit stylish figure. This really piqued my interest as I knew there would be familiar bounty hunters from Empire included in this series, but perhaps this was a new character?
*Spoiler warning beyond this point*
As I mentioned before, I’m really trying to get more of Boba Fett before we dive into a season of The Book of Boba Fett. Boba in this is pretty self-aware, badass, mysterious, and intriguing. There’s a shootout that happens in a cantina (very Star Wars) that ends with Boba, obviously, winning; the bartender slyly asks, “Any idea what that was about?” Boba replies, “Money, reputation, revenge… Could be anything. But it always ends the same.” To me, what makes Boba a fascinating character, is the trauma he faced as a child and how he’s become such a hardened man because of it. Will an encounter with him ever end in anything but tragedy? I hope The Book of Boba Fett explores that (perhaps The Mandalorian already began to do that).
After a tussle with Zuckuss and 4-LOM, Boba defeats them both and takes 4-LOM’s disembodied head to find out information about who could have possibly stolen Solo from Fett – and how they even knew he had him. Here, Boba finds out there’s a bounty for his own head – not Solo, like he thought. That leads him to Jabba the Hutt on Tatooine, and there’s a quippy moment of Boba tossing 4-LOM’s head over a barge, haphazardly.
There’s an interesting scene with Jabba and other Hutts as they discuss a threat, perhaps hinting at the preservation of the Hutts after Return of the Jedi; there’s also a mention of Chancellor Soh from the High Republic, which I thought was cool, but really made me consister the lifespan of Hutts. It is revealed that Qi’ra herself sent a transmission to announce the return of Crimson Dawn and invites Jabba to a celebration on Jekara. We find out that Crimson Dawn is in possession of Han Solo – which brings up so many questions. First, it is genuinely shocking to see Qi’ra again; I’m so thrilled to have her return and I really hope this is only the beginning. Second, I’m pretty nervous that Qi’ra is being set up to be killed off: “I said in the beginning of all this that someone was going to die. Now I know who,” is what Boba explains to Bib Fortuna. I’d be pretty disappointed that they brought back one of the most interesting characters from Solo only to kill her off, but I’ll remain hopeful, because it’s pretty awesome to see her again. (Plus, I should have guessed it was her who would make an appearance, as the title of the comic is “Most Wanted,” like the young adult novel Qi’ra starred in.)
It’s revealed by Qi’ra that the reason she stole Solo was that for the return of Crimson Dawn, “we needed something that would get the attention of the entire galaxy. For better or worse, I believe that is Han Solo.” In an impression panel, Luke Ross illustrates the several parties who are connected to Han, from the Rebellion to Vader to Dengar to Aphra and Jabba. It’s extensive and certainly does set up an interesting comic series. “Han always wanted to save me. Now he’ll get his chance.” It’s safe to say I’m intrigued.
The War of the Bounty Hunters #1 sets up an intriguing premise while making genuine ripples throughout the followers of Star Wars canon. I’m really looking forward to #2 and the ways this series will further Qi’ra and Boba Fett’s stories.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Star Wars: The War of the Bounty Hunters #1 “Most Wanted”
Written by Charles Soule
Illustrated by Luke Ross
Released: June 2nd, 2021