The War of the Bounty Hunters is over!
The five-issue miniseries written by Charles Soule has come to an end, filling in the gaps in-between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, looking at how Boba Fett delivered Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt – and the massive trouble he encountered in trying to do so.
The fifth issue recently released, so let’s dive in to our review!
The Imperial shuttle carrying Han Solo is disabled, requesting support from the Executor with the Hutt fleet looming, under the command of Bokku the Hutt. The fleet attempts to steal Solo, but the Empire launches TIE Fighters to engage – while ignoring two other ships that appear to be engaged in their own little skirmish: the Millennium Falcon and the Slave 1. Meanwhile Darth Vader continues to pursue Luke Skywalker in a dogfight, so when Admiral Piett contacts Vader to inform him of the developments, the Sith Lord orders him to not contact him again except by orders of Emperor Palpatine.
The Imperial shuttle lands on the Executor, pursued closely by Boba Fett and Valance aboard Slave 1. Fett transmits his access codes from The Empire Strikes Back to the Executor, claiming to be working directly for Vader, and they let him board. Meanwhile, the Millennium Falcon receives a transmission from the Executor as well, letting them land. The rebels assume it must be a trap, but then learn that it’s actually Crimson Dawn behind it, with Qi’ra wanting them to rescue Solo.
Outside the flagship, the Hutt fleet had prepared to retreat, but Bokku is contacted by someone from Crimson Dawn and we learn that he is aligned with them as well. The contact (presumably Qi’ra) tells Bokku that they need the Imperials still distracted, so Bokku orders the fleet to attack the Executor. Piett contacts Emperor Palpatine, who orders Vader to engage the Hutt fleet. Vader breaks off his pursuit of Skywalker and obeys his master’s command.
Aboard the Executor, Valance informs Fett of Han’s location, and then saves him from an Imperial security droid. But after this, Fett throws a thermal detonator at Valance, blowing him up and leaving his charred (yet alive) body for dead. While that happens, Leia, Lando, and Chewie arrive at Han’s location and take out the Imperial guards. But before they can leave with Han, Boba shows up and insists on reclaiming his prize. None of them wind up leaving with Han, however, as a rocket from the Hutt fleet rocks the Executor and blows a hole in the ship, sucking the carbonite-frozen body of Han Solo out into space. Fett uses his jetpack to fly out into space after him, and he manages to retrieve the body just before it was out of reach in Jekara’s ocean depths. Darth Vader, meanwhile, shows up aboard the Hutt flagship, presumably killing Bokku and the others.
In the aftermath of the battle, Qi’ra tells her forces – which include the Knights of Ren – that this was a good beginning for them. On Tatooine, Fett presents Jabba with his prize, Han Solo, but demands to be paid what he’s due. Jabba tells Fett he should stick around, since he might have another job for him.
The war of the bounty hunters is over, having been won – as we always knew would be the case – by Boba Fett. The issue ends with him delivering Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt, directly setting up the events of Return of the Jedi. We knew the end-game of the story, yet it was still a lot of fun to see how got to that point. And this issue was the dramatic conclusion of the five-issue miniseries that was the heart of this storyline, which other issues tied-in with.
In many ways, though, this issue was also just the beginning. We know that the War of the Bounty Hunters is the first chapter of a trilogy by Charles Soule, and the final page of this issue makes sure we remember as much. Crimson Reign will be releasing starting this December, and The Hidden Empire will be coming in 2022. And this story was planting seeds for what is coming.
To be honest, the plot line with Boba Fett versus the rebels for Han Solo played out mostly like I expected: Fett betrays Valance and steals Solo from right under Leia’s nose (which was heartbreaking to watch). What I didn’t expect was for it to happen aboard the Executor, and I loved how Fett just casually used his old codes again. I was shocked that the rebels were able to board and try to get Solo, but that leads us to the biggest takeaway from this issue: Crimson Dawn is everywhere.
We learned that Bokku the Hutt was working with Crimson Dawn, as what was likely Qi’ra ordered him to press the attack for the good of the cause, since they needed the distraction. And Bokku did so, sealing his fate and the fate of much of the Hutt fleet. By the end of the issue, Jabba says that he’s the only remaining member of the Hutt Council. So Crimson Dawn has infiltrated the Hutts, as well as the Empire. The reason the rebels are able to board is because they are given clearance to do so by an Imperial officer loyal to Crimson Dawn, and Qi’ra tells them that she wants to return Han to his people. It’s a bit of humanity to her character, and it leads to Lando awkwardly trying to explain to Leia why Qi’ra would want to help Han.
It also clarifies some of Qi’ra’s actions in this whole thing. She is mostly motivated by power, as a the whole auction for Han Solo was a way for her to pit some of Crimson Dawn’s enemies against each other, paving the way for Crimson Dawn’s re-emergence in the galactic crime scene. But it sounds like she wanted Han to wind up with the rebels all along, and I think that fits perfectly. She’s trying to survive and establish her place in the galaxy, but if she can help Han in the process she’ll want to do that too. That makes sense for her. I also can’t imagine Han’s reaction to hearing all that happened!
And toward the end of the issue, we get an even fuller look at the strength of Crimson Dawn: not only have they infiltrated the Hutts and the Empire, but they also have the Knights of Ren loyal to them. It sounds like the story of Crimson Dawn is just getting started, even while the story of the War of the Bounty Hunters is ending.