As we close in on the second issue of the War of the Bounty Hunters mini-series, the tie-ins bring more and more characters into the fold leading up to the big Han Solo auction courtesy of Crimson Dawn.
This issue is no different as it brings Valance and Dengar closer to finding both Han and Boba Fett. This issue flies by and has some of the most impressive art of the Bounty Hunters series so far. It also introduces some greatly needed depth for Dengar, pulling some of his backstory from Legends canon back to life.
After being attacked by Crimson Dawn assassin Deathstick at the end of the last issue, Valance and Dengar have just escaped, with the former badly injured. Luckily, Dengar knows someone in the area, Mama Stammoch, but the feeling isn’t mutual.
She has just enough mercy to let the two inside though and help patch Valance up, although while he’s mechanically fine, it’s putting strain on his human heart, and he might not have long.
Meanwhile deep in Hutt space, T’onga and Losha are fighting off Crimson Dawn soldiers; both caught in the crossfire as they try to talk with the leader of the Mourner’s Wail Syndicate. T’onga gets cornered but a quick whistle brings her pet Nexu into the fray.
The Nexu in Attack of the Clones didn’t even get the chance to be this vicious, it’s an animated two page spread, which is where this series’ artwork has shined most.
Cutting back to Dengar we see him contact Bib Fortuna, asking to speak with Manaroo just to hear she’s still alive. Fortuna refuses Dengar’s request but reiterates Jabba’s bargain.
Bib Fortuna doesn’t get enough credit, the man always seems to be on calls threatening people: between comic books and Bad Batch the man is busy. The prologue of this issue specifies that it take place before last month’s War of the Bounty Hunters #1 so it will be interesting to see if the deal with Dengar changes after Fortuna discovers that the bounty on Fett is misplaced since he didn’t betray the Hutts, but was robbed.
We now know the real reason behind Dengar’s intense motivation to capture Boba Fett; it isn’t about the money, it’s all for Manaroo.
Manaroo is actually a character from the EU Legends canon, she was Dengar’s girlfriend, then wife, and first appeared in the Tales of the Bounty Hunters collection of short stories. Fun fact: the story ended with Dengar asking Boba Fett to be his best man at the wedding, it doesn’t seem like that is going to be the case here!
Regardless, it’s a nice addition to the canon and Dengar has been pretty one dimensional in the story so far, it’s a needed change.
After the call Dengar asks Mama Stammoch if she knows anything about Crimson Dawn. The name instantly brings fear to her and we get some amazing artwork as she explains why.
These visuals combined with the story really mesh what we see in Clone Wars and the Siege of Mandalore vs. the state of the criminal underworld in Solo.
It’s an amazing mix of eras and mediums which just increases the excitement at the return of Crimson Dawn for us readers.
Meanwhile, with the firefight over and Crimson Dawn held back, T’onga tells the Mourner’s Wail leader the truth, that he has a granddaughter that could unite both his and the Unbroken Clan together.
This has been quite a complicated (somewhat convoluted at times) plot for the last fourteen issues, so it’s refreshing to get the crux of the series’ plot laid out again.
The leader asks T’onga to bring his Granddaughter home, in secret though, as Crimson Dawn learning of her identity would put her at risk, since Cadeliah is a bloodline that could unite syndicates against them.
Deathstick has found Valance and Dengar and continues her hunt, destroying Mama’s garage. The duo blow a hole into the wall and improvise out of there.
The joyride doesn’t last though as Deathstick’s droids make quick work of the speeder and the two are forced to jump.
This issue really is showing a softer side to the usually cocky Dengar. So much so that he want Valance to understand his true motivations. A story for another time though it seems.
Deathstick still has the crosshairs on them and wants to pull the trigger, she’s called off though, someone else has a plan for these two.
What is Qi’ra up to? She’s pushing Valance and Dengar towards something and it can’t be good.
This was definitely one of my favorite issues of this series so far. Getting more information about the development of the Galaxy’s criminal syndicates pre and post-Empire is always fascinating, even more so with the stellar art Paolo Villanelli added to the scene. It’s also nice to see some depth added to Dengar; he still hasn’t proven himself as a particularly adept bounty hunter yet, but at least we know some of the cockiness is just for show.
Overall a great issue and a great start to the July issues!