The War of the Bounty Hunters arc officially kicked off today, and it contained a MASSIVE reveal that I wasn’t expecting, one that immediately raises the intrigue and the stakes for this series.
The War of the Bounty Hunters story is an epic crossover event between a number of Star Wars comics, and these series all spent May setting the stage and building up to the event through prelude issues. Basically, it sets the stage that Boba Fett lost Han Solo, and thus seemingly everyone in the galaxy is getting in on the hunt. Including, it turns out, a very notable person we’ve seen before.
This post isn’t my official review of the comic, as that will come soon, but this is instead just about this one reveal. If you haven’t read the comic yet, I suggest you do so before reading this article. Spoilers are ahead!
This issue, War of the Bounty Hunters #1 by Charles Soule, begins on a ship called the Vermillion, where a mysterious group – including a hooded figure – is in possession of the carbon-frozen body of Han Solo. As the issue goes on, we learn that this group has invited the Hutts to a party, one in which they can obtain Han. The Hutts discuss how this group hasn’t been heard from in years, and how their leader must be dead by now, so they are suspicious and wary – but Jabba insists that them having Solo is good enough for him. Meanwhile, Boba Fett learns about this invitation by threatening Bib Fortuna, realizing that this group apparently wanted to use Solo as a way of gaining the Hutts’ favor.
The group’s name? Crimson Dawn.
Fett mentions that he now knows who to kill, and he heads off to presumably follow the invitation to join the party. While the ‘guests’ begin to make their way to the party, on the Vermillion someone asks the hooded woman why Solo is so important, since he’s just a smuggler, after all. The figure explains that Solo nonetheless has managed to become directly connected to every major faction in the galaxy. But what does this woman want in particular with Han Solo? “Han always wanted to save me,” she says. “Now he’ll get his chance.” At that, she lowers her hood to reveal her face: it’s Qi’ra! As she walks off, she orders final preparations to be made ready for their guests, and the issue ends.
Obviously, this is a MAJOR reveal, and it’s one that sets up this War of the Bounty Hunters story as not just an exciting and epic story connecting The Empire Strikes Back with Return of the Jedi, but also one that in many ways serves as a sequel to Solo: A Star Wars Story. Of course, as you’ll remember, Qi’ra and Han grew up together on Corellia and planned to run away together to start a new life, obviously in love. But Qi’ra was captured while Han escaped, and years later Han discovered that she was conscripted into working for Crimson Dawn. They went on a mission together (with Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, Tobias Beckett, and L3-37) that re-kindled their romance, but it didn’t last long. Qi’ra killed her boss, Dryden Vos, and didn’t follow Han, instead contacting the leader of Crimson Dawn, Maul, and heading off to meet him on Dathomir. That was the last we heard of her, and no stories have been told about her after those events.
We do know what happened to Maul, however. He wound up stranded on Malachor for a while before he was found by Kanan Jarrus, Ezra Bridger, and Ahsoka Tano, and through the events there Maul managed to escape into the galaxy once more. He soon learned that Obi-Wan Kenobi was alive and pursued him to Tatooine, where he faced off with the old Jedi Master once more. Maul didn’t last long, however, as he was killed by Kenobi’s blade and buried in the Tatooine desert. Thus Maul’s story with Crimson Dawn apparently ended many years earlier. What we know is that Maul was found on Malachor around 6 years before The Empire Strikes Back, and he claimed to have crashed on the planet many years earlier. So it’s reasonable to guess, then, that Maul hadn’t been actively leading Crimson Dawn for around a decade at the time of this current comic. In fact, here’s what Jabba the Hutt says about the leader of this organization, and upon re-reading the issue, I think it’s clear he’s referring to Maul:
“There’s something important to consider. The person who ran this organization was… not someone who could stay hidden this long. One way or another, he would have revealed himself. He has not. So I believe he is dead. And so the question… if this is real, then whoever is in charge may have killed that person. If so, they are formidable indeed.”
Jabba’s deductions are pretty accurate, at least on some things. He knows that Maul couldn’t have stayed hidden that long, so the fact that he has is evidence that he’s dead. That’s very reasonable and logical. But it also leads him to think that the current leader killed Maul, which isn’t how it went down – but, again, reasonable to think, from his vantage point!
So here’s the picture that begins forming: presumably after Maul disappeared, crash-landing on Malachor, Crimson Dawn disappeared from the galactic scene. But Qi’ra continued to lead the organization, seizing Han Solo as a means to return to prominence and curry favor with the Hutts. It doesn’t seem like her intention is to re-kindle the old flame with her former lover but instead to use him to gain influence.
But, while this is probably fairly obvious, it’s worth pointing out still: it means that Qi’ra survived this long, and thus out-lived Maul! That’s obvious from her appearance here, but it was very much unknown before this comic! It seemingly came out of nowhere, and that’s to the major credit of Charles Soule and the whole team for keeping it a secret. It escalates the stakes considerably, particularly from a fan perspective.
What does this mean for Qi’ra moving forward? Well, I could see it working either way: either it means that Lucasfilm has plans to include her in some show soon and wants to begin the hype here, or it means that Lucasfilm doesn’t have any plans to include her anytime soon and therefore is letting the story be told in a comic. To be perfectly honest, either one of those seems reasonable, so I don’t think we can conclude much about the future storytelling based on this. But it’s nonetheless really exciting to see her show up here, and it’s amazing to think that this comic will turn out to be a continuation of some of the storylines from Solo too!!!
So, yeah: Qi’ra is back!