For those eagerly anticipating The Book of Boba Fett, or for those who love bounty hunters and especially the man in armour himself, there are things to occupy oneself with for the time being.
One of them is War of the Bounty Hunters, a series in the long line of Marvel’s Star Wars comics. Let me say straight away that it stands out among the rest - and that it may be of interest even for those who do not usually care about this medium.
Stealing Carbonited Han
The plot of War of the Bounty Hunters revolves around carbonited Han Solo. The story takes place between episodes V and VI. The first issue starts with Boba ferrying his bounty from Bespin to Jabba’s palace when the freezing device malfunctions. To preserve the precious bounty, Boba needs to make a detour to Nar Shaddaa. While frozen Han is being tended to, someone steals him. With the bounty out of Boba’s hands, it is suddenly free for grabs, and every bounty hunter or semi-bounty hunter in the Galaxy is on frozen Han’s trail.
Boba Fett is the main character of the series. We mostly follow the story from his point of view, but there are others, too: everyone who is interested in getting Han Solo. That means other hunters like Bossk or Dengar, but also the Rebels, the Empire and the Hutt Cartel itself. And then of course there are the mysterious kidnappers.
The Return Of… Everyone Who Wants Han
It is hard to explain some of the coolest things about War of the Bounty Hunters without giving away spoilers. However the point is not that something happens, but how it unfolds.
It turns out quickly that Han was taken by an organisation that puts him up for an auction. Seemingly, this organisation is using the situation in order to broadcast its reemergence to the Galaxy and to show that after years of being dormant, it is still strong enough to play alongside all the big players. You may already get an idea what this organisation might be: the Crimson Dawn, now fully under the leadership of Qi’ra. Its leader, who knows fully well who the bounty on her wall is.
Overall the story of War of the Bounty Hunters is dramatic and epic. It features a range of interesting characters, from Boba through Lando or Vader to Qi’ra, with cameos of Doctor Aphra and other non-film major characters. Part of this is because War of the Bounty Hunters is in fact a crossover project tying together several storylines from other Star Wars comics. It works however perfectly well without you being familiar with the rest. If you want to know all the details of what happened around, why and when, you can read the 2020 Star Wars, Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra and Bounty Hutners comics.
An Unnecessary Story? Not.
Because of Episode VI, we know that the story must somehow end with Boba getting Han back to Jabba. The “how” is what the comic is about.
You might think that the premise of War of the Bounty Hunters is a little convoluted. Rightfully so. A fairly clear situation from the films, getting Han from point A to point B, gets expanded in order to squeeze an entire subplot between A and B, only to end in B anyway. But I daresay the authors showed some creativity and used this forced insertion as well as they could.
What I appreciate the most is that they did not hold back when they already got the chance. You get to see some riduculous situations. I will let it sink in for a moment that you have an auction where everyone is at risk of running into each other. Luke into Vader, Vader into Doctor Aphra, Lando into Qi’ra. We even get a brief duel of Qi’ra against Vader - which is not a joke only because of the chilling fact that Qi’ra, of probably all the people in the Galaxy, knows what it means to stand face to face with a Sith.
War of the Bounty Hunters is, in short, a thrilling read, stylishly illustrated, that plays out an interesting “what if” story, if nothing else. I would definitely recommend it to any Star Wars comics reader, any Boba Fett fan, any fan of the Han Solo movie or of the whole Crimson Dawn subplot.
Last but not least, it seems like Marvel wants to build on the story and is preparing a stand-alone Crimson Dawn comic that was announced for December 2021. For those interested War of the Bounty Hunters would provide a good starting point.