The War of the Bounty Hunters continues!
The latest “Prelude” issue released today, this one coming from the Bounty Hunters line, written by Ethan Sacks, with issue #12. It bridges the gap between what just happened in the series and what is about to come, continuing to set the stage for the coming epic crossover event by showing various bounty hunters getting involved in the chase.
Let’s dive in to our review!
The bounty hunters Beilert Valance and Dengar have teamed up, making a very unlikely – and, as we’ll see, uneasy – duo. Both of them are after Boba Fett, leading to their alliance – as Dengar has heard that Fett was spotted on Nar Shadda. Their reasons for wanting to find Fett, however, don’t appear to be the same. Regardless, before they arrive on Nar Shadda, their ship is attacked by Zuckuss and 4-LOM, bounty hunters who managed to track them down.
The other two bounty hunters are in pursuit of a girl that Valance rescued in a previous issue, which Dengar knows nothing about. As Valance attempts to escape, we see fashbacks to an encounter he had with Han Solo at an earlier point. He’s conscripted by a gang called the Caviness Thorn Crew on the planet Abregado-Rae and forced to join them on a mission to kill Han Solo. But Valance, recognizing his old friend as the target, fails to fulfill the mission. Solo, however, sees Valance’s actions as an attack on him, so he grows furious as Chewbacca pulls him away and the Millennium Falcon takes off.
In the present, Valance flies his ship through an asteroid field, filled with Exogorths (the space creature first seen in the asteroid in The Empire Strikes Back). But Dengar, growing frustrated and not wanting to be blasted out of the sky, knocks Valance unconscious. He initiates a new communication with Zuckuss and 4-LOM, telling them that while he doesn’t know anything about the girl, he can give them more valuable information in exchange for his safety. The other bounty hunters have heard that Jabba the Hutt has placed a large bounty on Solo’s head, and Dengar gives them more specific information: Fett’s current location.
Valance, having just woken up, is furious at Dengar, both for revealing Fett’s location and for withholding from him the information about the large bounty. Dengar notes that the only reason he’s putting up with Valance is because of the really large bounty, before disclosing that every bounty hunter in the sector will be coming for Fett and Solo. We see Bib Fortuna and Bossk, we see T’onga and Losha, and then we see Dengar saying that they’d better get the ship fixed fast if they want to get to Fett and Solo first.
This issue, of course, continues to set up the War of the Bounty Hunters, serving as another “Prelude” issue. This month, the various ongoing Star Wars comics are turning in these prelude issues to set the stage. So, for example, here we see this issue as a way of bridging what’s come before with what’s coming next. It helps those who keep up regularly with this series (which I think is fine but not spectacular). And it’s all setting the stage for this epic crossover event to come, with the hunt for Han Solo. So far, we’ve seen that Boba Fett has lost Solo, while the Rebellion is also following a lead on their friend’s whereabouts.
So yes, this issue does advance things… but only marginally. It’s easily one that you can skip right over and be fine, at least with what we know so far (you never know if more significance will be added as the storytelling unfolds). Basically, this issue is all about setting up this point: other bounty hunters are hot on Fett’s trail. In many ways we already knew that; I suppose now we just know a bit more specifics of who. Most prominently, Zuckuss and 4-LOM are in pursuit. They were recruited by Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back to hunt Solo, but they obviously lost out to Fett. Now they’re back in the game. The same could be said for Bossk, who is a lot more prominent for Star Wars fans; he’s seen here with Bib Fortuna, cluing us in to his allegiances, and it seems he’s getting involved as well. So too are T’onga and Losha, and most Star Wars fans won’t know them. They were created for the Bounty Hunters comic series and have appeared in several issues so far, and they’re getting involved in the chase too.
That’s the main takeaway from this issue: other bounty hunters are in pursuit. That’s fine, but the issue felt like it was stuck in neutral and overly confusing. Here’s what I mean: the issue didn’t really advance the War of the Bounty Hunters much at all, from what we could see, while it also tried to toe a balance between flashbacks and the present day. There wasn’t much that indicated which was which, however, besides the fact that these were two different stories, which I imagine could be easily confusing for readers – especially those just jumping in to this series for the War of the Bounty Hunters. On the one hand, it’s reasonable for Sacks to expect people to be familiar with what’s come before. But on the other hand, I think the whole stuff with the flashbacks could have been handled better.
Part of what I mean by that is that it’s not always clear what is happening. We conclude that Valance has a history with Han Solo (he does!), and that he seems to be somewhat of a friend to Solo (that’s true…), and so that leads one to conclude that Valance wants Solo for reasons not fueled by monetary greed. That’s apparent both by the fact that he wants to kill Fett, and that he wasn’t even aware of the bounty. Valance is after Solo. But it can be hard to understand why the whole story with the flashback is included here, and what significance it has, if one misses that point. It’s here to show us that Valance has a history with Solo, and that it’s not as adversarial as we might otherwise be led to believe.
So anyway, part of my thoughts with this review are surely influenced by the fact that I haven’t been the biggest fan of the Bounty Hunters series in the first place. It’s a fine issue, and it feels like there’s a lot happening… all the while nothing much really happens, if that makes sense. There’s a lot packed in here that can get confusing, but it doesn’t advance the War of the Bounty Hunters story much. If you’re looking for a quick, fun read, then check it out! And if you like the Bounty Hunters series, then absolutely check it out, for it really helps to bridge the previous arc with the upcoming one. But if that’s not you, don’t feel the pressure to read this one; I think you’ll still be able to follow along with the War of the Bounty Hunters story just fine.