The fourth issue of the War of the Bounty Hunters comic miniseries was recently released, written by Charles Soule, and that leaves only one more issue left in this series.
Of course, there are plenty of crossover stories still to come as a part of this story, but we’re nearing the end. It’s a very significant story that’s taking place in-between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, telling about the fight for Han Solo. While at times things have seemed to stall across these various crossover comics, the fourth issue of this main series advanced things quite a bit, setting up for what will hopefully be a thrilling conclusion.
Let’s take a look at this issue!
Darth Vader holds his lightsaber to the carbonite frozen body of Han Solo, threatening to kill solo unless Luke Skywalker comes to face him. Luke peels his X-Wing off and flees the planet, telling Leia that he’s not ready to fight him. So Leia turns to Chewbacca and Lando and puts together a plan to rescue Solo, which Lando points out is futile. They can’t go against Vader. But Luke’s fleeing wasn’t just out of fear, for he taunts Vader, saying that if he wants him he’ll have to come get him. Luke tells Leia that Vader won’t kill Han, since he’s too valuable of a target, and Luke plans to lure Vader away to give the others a chance to strike and rescue Han. Luke rightly understands that Vader’s real target is him.
Vader takes the bait, ordering Solo to be taken to the Executor and having his ship prepared. Meanwhile, Bokku the Hutt grows frustrated and voices it over Jabba’s willingness to let Vader take Han. As Jabba leaves, Bokku pleads with the other Hutts to not just always side with Jabba but to take things into their own hands. Outside the Vermillion, Boba Fett prepares to take out the Imperial Shuttle but is stopped by Dengar and Valance. Fett springs into action and winds up stranding Dengar, leaving him floating away on an iceberg. He then attempts to talk with Valance, forming an uneasy alliance with him to go after Solo. Back inside the Crimson Dawn ship, Qi’ra talks with her aides about how her fight against Vader has sent a message that they aren’t just going to bow to the Empire’s every whim and says that she still has many strings left to pull. As she says that this is just the beginning approaching the end, she looks at a Sith holocron she has in her collection.
The Rebels board the Millennium Falcon and take off in pursuit of the Imperial Shuttle, while Vader pursues Luke in his TIE Fighter. The Falcon approaches the Shuttle and, not wanting to risk firing on it, the Rebels turn to Lobot, who taps into the Imperial systems and causes them to short out, leaving the ship dead in space. Before the Rebels can board, however, Boba Fett fires a seismic charge from Slave 1 – scaled back to 20% intensity to appease Valance’s insistence the Rebels not be killed – which takes the Falcon out of the fight for a moment as well. But before Fett and Valance can board the shuttle, the Hutt fleet arrives, ready to fight for what is theirs.
It had recently felt like this War of the Bounty Hunters story was stalling a bit, with very little movement actually happening between issues. But that isn’t the case here, as the story gets moved in some significant ways that all appear to be setting up a thrilling end-game, with only one issue from this main line (though plenty other tie-ins) still to come.
The auction for Han Solo is over, and the main competing factions are all springing into motion to make one last effort. The Empire is in possession of Solo, but Darth Vader is preoccupied with Luke Skywalker. The Rebels desperately pursue the Imperial Shuttle in the Millennium Falcon, knowing that if Solo is taken aboard the Executor they won’t be able to rescue him. Boba Fett isn’t to be deterred either, going after Solo with the “help” of Valance. And Bokku the Hutt finally reaches a breaking point, rallying the Hutts around him to make a stand instead of bowing to Jabba, leading to the Hutt fleet engaging. So as the issue ends, we seem to be set for a massive space conflict between the Empire and the Hutts, with the Rebels and Boba Fett caught in the middle of it trying to get Han Solo. Even though we know who ultimately proves victorious in the end, it’s still very interesting because we don’t know how it happens (for instance, I’m guessing that Valance won’t make it out of this story alive, and it’s not looking too great for Bokku either).
I also appreciated how this gave a much different impression on Luke’s actions at the end of the previous Star Wars comic, as he peeled off and didn’t come fight Vader. This wasn’t him giving up altogether on Han Solo, however, as he tries to lure Vader away. It’s interesting to see the Luke vs. Vader dynamic here, as this is in-between their duels seen in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Vader wants Luke – and now wants to kill him – while Luke knows he’s not ready to face him again yet. However Luke does realize Vader’s obsession with him and uses it to the Rebels’ advantage. Luke takes a risk, but it’s a calculated one: he knows that Han Solo is Vader’s bargaining chip, so Luke figures Vader won’t kill Han if he has a shot at getting Luke. That proves correct, and so instead of a rematch between Luke and Vader with a lightsaber, we get a rematch of them in their ships.
One other interesting part of the issue revolves around Qi’ra. It seems that her role in this story is dwindling down, and she doesn’t get much attention here. But she does reveal that this is just the beginning of her plan, and we see that she’s in possession of a Sith holocron. When I saw these few moments with Qi’ra in this issue, I immediately thought that it was setting up for the Crimson Reign series that will be coming in December. Author Charles Soule has said that Crimson Reign is the second installment of a trilogy of stories, with the first chapter being this War of the Bounty Hunters event. So while Qi’ra might not have a whole lot more to do in this story as it prepares to draw to a close, her story seems to be just beginning.
Overall I enjoyed this issue. Like I said earlier, it felt like it actually advanced things along quite a bit, especially compared to previous issues. The auction is over, Luke has lured Vader away, and the Rebels and Boba Fett are both making their moves for Han Solo. And oh yeah, Bokku the Hutt is preparing to go against the Empire. That’s not going to work out well for him.
The War of the Bounty Hunters story is nearing an end, with one issue left of this main comic miniseries. And while we know Boba Fett will emerge ‘victorious’ for now, I can’t wait to see how it happens.