The War of the Bounty Hunters continues, and the pieces are being put into place for the upcoming Crimson Dawn auction.
Crimson Dawn has Han Solo. They’re inviting pretty much every syndicate in the galaxy to an auction for Solo, looking to burst back onto the scene. And in Star Wars #14, written by Charles Soule (who is also writing the main War of the Bounty Hunters mini-series), we see the rebels jumping into the fray as well!
Let’s dive in to our review of the issue.
Leia Organa has a dream of Han Solo emerging from the carbonite and determines that it’s time to go get him. Luke Skywalker counters that they have no clue where Boba Fett is, but Leia has intel from someone she would trust with her life: Amilyn Holdo, who has been working undercover with the syndicates trying to secure supply chains for the Rebel Alliance. Holdo’s message told Leia that Boba Fett doesn’t have Han any more, that there’s an upcoming auction with Han Solo for sale, and that the group running the auction is Crimson Dawn.
At the mention of Crimson Dawn Chewbacca reacts negatively and is clearly distressed. He tells the others, through C-3PO’s translation, about Crimson Dawn’s history and his run-ins with them in the past. He says that Crimson Dawn’s involvement makes this a “very delicate and dangerous situation,” and Chewie hesitantly suggests they enlist the help of someone else who has had dealings with Crimson Dawn in the past: Lando Calrissian.
Leia and Luke share a heartfelt conversation, with Leia saying that she hasn’t been her hopeful self since her encounter with Commander Zahra (something Luke had noticed) but knows that getting Han back will make everything right. Meanwhile, Chewie approaches Lando in the hangar and informs him of the situation. Lando says that he’d be happy to help and will do anything for Han, but demands that Chewie and the Rebellion not ask anything more of Lobot. But after Chewie leaves, Lando lets Lobot in on his true intentions: if this auction is really happening then he knows Jabba is invited, so he contacts Bib Fortuna and offers the old droid the Rebellion stole. Lando and Lobot secretly steal the droid from the Rebellion and take off with Leia and Chewie on the Millennium Falcon, heading off to the auction.
They arrive at the planet where the auction is to take place and discover that it seems every syndicate in the galaxy has arrived. Lando says he’s going to go check on the guns but in actuality jettisons the droid out the airlock, ready to be picked up by Fortuna. But as the droid floats away in space the droid pushes Lobot’s implants back momentarily, and Lando realizes he’s made a mistake and that the droid can help Lobot. He wants to go back and pick up the droid, but before he can explain this to the others, Chewbacca has a plan to sneak down to the planet. But those plans are interrupted by a ship from Black Sun showing up out of hyperspace right on top of them. Black Sun sends fighters in pursuit of the Falcon, but Chewie’s quick thinking and expert flying evade them and he then crash-lands the Falcon on the planet’s surface. The crew looks out at the Crimson Dawn ship parked nearby, ready to go save Han.
In this War of the Bounty Hunters series some of these issues are only very loosely connected to the overall plot, while others are basically entirely driven by it, and this issue would fall in the latter category. We should expect that, too, since Leia’s interest in rescuing Han goes far deeper than other factions’ interest does.
So in this issue, we see the rebels preparing to arrive at the Crimson Dawn auction, having already landed on the planet. It’s a pretty interesting and different feeling to be going into a story and knowing that the good guys aren’t going to emerge victorious in their quest, as we know that Leia and the rebels won’t succeed in rescuing Han here. There are any number of reasons why that might be, but it’s just an interesting spot to be in from a storytelling perspective, and I like it.
This issue also shows us how Lando gets more involved in the rescue operation. The end of The Empire Strikes Back makes us think that Lando’s already totally on board with the Rebellion and the rescue of Han Solo, but this comic has revealed that wasn’t the case. Lando continues to try to figure out his place in all of this, and that was clear in this issue as well. I think it makes perfect sense why the rebels would turn to Lando for this mission, given his history with Crimson Dawn, and I can’t believe it didn’t hit me before. But of course they’d do that! It makes a very natural way for him to get more involved in the story. And he says that he’ll do anything for Han, but we also see that his motivations are mixed. He’s trying to make some money in the meantime, selling the droid the rebels sacrificed much to acquire to Bib Fortuna. But Lando almost immediately comes to regret that decision, all because of Lobot, and maybe this will help him actually grow more into the hero we’re familiar with. I’m loving what these comics are doing with Lobot, by the way, and it’s great to see that continue.
But while Lando goes with the rebels to the Crimson Dawn auction, another one of our heroes doesn’t. Luke Skywalker says he’ll meet them there but doesn’t go with them right away because… he’s got to run a patrol mission because he promised Wedge he would? C’mon. I get it that Luke is loyal and doesn’t want to let Wedge down, but the rebels now have the location of Han Solo and Luke isn’t going after his friend simply because of a patrol mission? After he abandoned everything in Empire to go after him? I think Charles Soule is a fantastic storyteller and he has proven that he knows what he’s doing with these characters, but I didn’t find this convincing whatsoever. Save Han, or go on a patrol mission? Seems like that’d be an easy choice. But anyway, I’m sure that the real reason behind this was that Soule needed to get Luke away on his own mission for reasons that will probably become clear soon, and I’m ok with that! But I just wish it was for some better reason, like following a lead on one of the Jedi locations R2-D2 gave him in a previous issue or something. Because when I read Luke’s reason for not going with them here, I found myself immediately thinking, “you’ve got to be kidding me.” But maybe it’s just me.
One other notable rebel shows up in this issue too, and it’s one we weren’t expecting to see but one that is a really cool nod to The Last Jedi: Amilyn Holdo is the one who lets Leia know about this auction! That’s awesome. She and Leia met when they were teenagers and became lifelong friends. Holdo got involved in the Rebellion, and decades later was recruited by her old friend to join the Resistance leadership. Holdo did so, and of course in The Last Jedi assumed command after the decimation of the rest of the Resistance leadership besides an unconscious Leia. We already knew that Holdo was a member of the Rebel Alliance, but this issue reveals what she was doing: she was working undercover with the criminal syndicates, working to secure supply chains for the fledgling Rebellion. It was through this role that she learned Boba Fett no longer had Han Solo but that Crimson Dawn did and was holding an auction. Because the news came from Holdo, Leia trusted it completely, saying that she trusted Holdo with her life. It’s super cool to see her make a cameo appearance here!
Holdo wasn’t the only cameo appearance, however, as there was another one that I’m guessing might come into play a lot more in the coming issues. As Chewbacca flies the Falcon toward the planet, a Black Sun ship drops out of hyperspace right on top of them, and deploys fighters to pursue the Falcon. This is the first appearance by Black Sun during this comic crossover event, and it’s quite a bit more significant than a random syndicate showing up. During the Clone Wars, Black Sun was allied with Maul’s Shadow Collective, but that’s not why I’m saying it’s significant. The legends story Shadows of the Empire was an epic crossover event exploring the time in-between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and dealing with Boba Fett fighting off others in a hunt for Han Solo. Sound familiar? Though the War of the Bounty Hunters is clearly telling their own story, there’s quite a bit that seems inspired or loosely based on Shadows of the Empire. And in that story, Prince Xizor, the leader of Black Sun, played a major role – and had significant interactions with Leia Organa, too. It seems, according to Wookieepedia, that Xizor is actually canon, but we don’t know much about him in the current canon whatsoever. But we do apparently know that he was the leader of Black Sun at some point, and all of this is why I’m especially intrigued by Black Sun getting involved. I wonder if they’re going to bring Xizor back into this story, just like he was in legends, and I think that’d be pretty cool. I’m sure his role in the whole story will be considerably different, but I’d love to see him involved nonetheless.
It seems like all the pieces are coming into place for this Crimson Dawn auction, and I figure that we’ll begin seeing this play out and see things begin to move before long. The rebels are now on the scene to rescue Han, and even though we know that they ultimately don’t succeed until Return of the Jedi, I’m very interested to see what happens along the way.