War of the Bounty Hunters #1 Review

by Ellie J. on June 02, 2021

WAR OF THE  BOUNTY HUNTERS IS HERE, and man oh man, is it maybe the best Star Wars comic I've ever read. For those unaware, War of the Bounty Hunters is the big crossover event of the year for Star Wars comics across all four ongoing series, this mini-series, and a series of one-shots. It's easily the biggest crossover they've ever done, and it's pretty clear why: this is the big Shadows of the Empire equivalent for Canon, and with just the first issue it already feels just as important... but the reason why can wait until later in the review.

First off, some backstory. Boba Fett acquired the carbonite-frozen Han Solo during the events of Empire Strikes Back, and after a brief detour (in the first six issues of the Bounty Hunters series) he finally got on his way to delivering Han to Tatooine... until Han's carbonite frame started melting down. Boba took Han to a doctor on Nar Shaddaa to stop him from being killed from the carbonite, and as payment he had to fight in an arena (all shown in the Alpha prelude issue). But when he got back... Han was gone, taken by an unknown group of mercenaries that killed the doctor and ran off with a frozen Han.

This issue directly follows up on that, and it does so in glorious fashion. I wasn't too sure about this story at first, since most Boba Fett stories have been pretty surface-level and not done much with the character's potential, but I should've trusted Charles Soule. He always does incredible work with Star Wars, from Darth Vader to Kylo Ren to the High Republic and now to Boba Fett. This first issue focuses on the mystery introduced by Alpha, since everyone in the Galaxy has been made aware of the fact that Han Solo is missing and up for grabs from some unknown party, a fact that spreads thanks to Jabba the Hutt getting angry and putting an open bounty on Boba Fett's head.

Over the course of the 29 pages of this issue, the mystery grows as more details are revealed, all building up to a massive lore-shattering reveal on the final page. But we'll get there later. First, we see that Boba Fett is not happy. His rep is on the line, and now his head is too thanks to Jabba's bounty. He finds this out when Zuckuss and 4-LOM try to collect, though he has no issue dealing with both hunters rather brutally. He goes to Tatooine to settle things with Jabba, only to find out that Jabba... isn't there? Jabba is instead travelling to some mysterious destination, having been invited by the party that has Han. Spoilers ahead.

We learn from a conversation Jabba has with the Hutt Families that this party is shaking the entire Underworld to its core. A mysterious crime organization, thought to be destroyed and disbanded years ago, has resurfaced and has Han. Jabba is suspicious, since he knew this organization's leader and knows that he wouldn't be able to suddenly come out of hiding if he's alive. This is the first major hint at who has Han, and by this point I was getting chills. Boba watches the invitation Jabba received, just as all our main characters, from Luke and Leia to Aphra and Sana to Valance and Dengar all get a similar invitation.

Crimson Dawn and Qi'ra are back, and they have Han. It's such a mind-blowing reveal, one that I thought impossible. Soule did it again, he found a way to tell a compelling, emotional story when I didn't think it would happen, partly because it's been so rare to get a good Boba Fett story, and I didn't think Lucasiflm would ever let publishing continue Qi'ra story before a movie or TV series did. Qi'ra is heavily tied to Han's character and the Criminal Underworld, and her sudden return will have reverberations for everything.

Han being captured by one of the most feared criminal organizations in the Galaxy is no small story, and on one two-page spread it's made clear just how much it affects all our main characters. Qi'ra has ties to the past of Luke and Leia's best friend Han. The smugglers and bounty hunters from the Aphra and Bounty Hunters series all lived under Crimson Dawn's shadow for years. The Hutt Clan suddenly has to content with their biggest rival in decades once more. It promises to be the biggest story Star Wars comics have ever told in Canon.

I'll leave my excitement there. To sum up, this is already one of the best Star Wars comics ever, with some of the most intriguing and exciting writing from Soule, art from Luke Ross that stuns as usual and fits the tone of this story perfectly, and unparalleled levels of hype for the return of Qi'ra and Crimson Dawn. The story of War of the Bounty Hunters continues next week with Bounty Hunters #13, though the next core issue isn't until July. I couldn't recommend a comic more, so please buy this one at your local comic shop!

Our Score:

10/10

A Look Inside