Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters continues its prelude month with Bounty Hunters #12.
This week sees Valance in an uneasy alliance with Dengar as they pursue Boba Fett, both for different reasons, as they’re pursued by 4-LOM and Zuckuss. Meanwhile, we delve further into the history between Valance and Han Solo in a series of flashbacks.
After last issues skirmish we pick up with Valance and Dengar’s uneasy alliance. Dengar let slip Han was frozen in carbonite and captured by the bounty hunter Boba Fett. The two find themselves on the way to Nar Shaddaa, Fett’s last known location according to Dengar’s intel.
While the two discuss the logistics of the plan, the ships alarms start blaring.
The deal Valance struck with Zuckuss and 4-LOM back in issue #7 has expired and the duo are back to hunting Valance and Cadeliah (who unbeknownst to them, is in hiding with the Rebels). The bounty hunter duo got the drop on Valance and he’s having trouble evading; Valance is willing to die with the information of Cadeliah’s location, Dengar doesn’t feel the same way…
Valance is obsessed with both protecting Cadeliah and finding Solo. Dengar’s prompt sends us into a flash back explaining why finding Solo is so important to Valance. Writer Ethan Sacks really loves his flashbacks!
We flashback to a time when Valance is being threatened by the Caviness Thorn crew on Abregado-Rae, luckily they are short a fourth person for the assassination job they’re about to pull on someone they refer to as ‘The Smuggler’, so between that and the issue’s cover, you can kinda guess where this is going.
Valance has no choice and agrees to the job since the crew have framed him as a Hutt associate on a Pyke syndicate controlled world. He needs to complete the job, get the credits, and escape the planet.
The crew have eyes on the mark, talking to the dockmaster. Of course, to Valance’s surprise, their target is none other than Han Solo.
Valance is startled by the appearance of Solo, a man he hasn’t seen since his Imperial days. As the count down begins to take the shot, Valance makes the decision to shoot early and intentionally miss, warning Han and Chewie of the incoming attack.
A firefight ensues: The smuggler with his Wookiee co-pilot against their attackers and Valance against the crew leader, looking to kill him for ruining the hit. Valance tackles the crew leader off the platform off the ledge and down towards the ground.
Unsurprisingly, being shot at isn’t a new concept for Han Solo. What is a surprise though is the revelation that his old friend Valance is the one trying to kill him.
Valance tries to explain, but doesn’t get the chance as Chewie carries the furious Solo away, getting them off-world before they draw any more attention to themselves.
Valance is left alone at the spaceport, apologizing to the man who had once saved his life, with no one around to hear. Valance feels the need to save Solo now, to not only repay the favor, but make up for the misunderstanding and betrayal he caused Han.
Meanwhile in the present, Valance is trying all kinds of tricks to get 4-LOM and Zuckuss off his tail.
Dengar isn’t really happy with the extreme measures Valance is taking though and decides it’s time for negotiation. Firstly though, he has an ‘aggressive negotiation’ with Valance.
With Valance unconscious, Dengar reaches out to their pursuers and offers the information that Jabba the Hutt has put a bounty on Boba Fett’s head, one bigger than the one on Valance and Cadeliah.
This is of no interest to the duo…..until Dengar sweetens the deal with the intel of where Boba Fett is right now! The pair agree and Dengar transfers them the coordinates in exchange for them leaving.
Valance wakes up and is mad that Dengar didn’t tell him about the bounty on Boba Fett.
So now the two have to fix the ship and get to Nar Shaddaa fast: So that Dengar can get his money, and Valance can save his friend. It seems the two will remain allies…..for now.
We’ve seen in previous issues the link between Solo and Valance: their time in the Imperial army, Valance getting lost behind enemy lines, and Solo being the one that organizes his rescue. So this isn’t really much of a revelation, rather just another chapter deepening Valance’s shame and need to redeem himself in Solo’s eyes.
This issue has a lot of visual references to appreciate, between the designs of the Pyke syndicate guards in the flashback, the return of the exogorth (space worm from The Empire Strikes Back), and of course, the legacy bounty hunters throughout.
Bounty Hunter as a series relies on flashbacks a lot to expand the story, to mixed effect. While this issues one “works” it isn’t necessarily the most intriguing or interesting. It does reiterate Valance and Dengar’s motivation nicely for the main event though. It deserves a little leeway because this is purely a prelude for the massive crossover, but hopefully this is just a low jumping off point for what to expect from the series, rather than a teaser of what’s to come.