It’s crazy to think we’re already well over the halfway mark for the War of the Bounty Hunters crossover!
Last month, Jabba the Hutt won the auction with a bid of one million credits; but that celebration was short lived as Vader interrupted the proceedings. Meanwhile, Luke is rushing as fast as he can to join the other Rebels at the auction, while Leia and the gang have run into Boba Fett, and Aphra is doing whatever she can to go unnoticed by the Dark Lord himself.
We pick up this issue with Vader delivering his ultimatum at Crimson Dawn’s auction: Hand over Solo or die. Lady Qi’ra herself doesn’t seem too worried though.
This is a nice little teaser from writer Charles Soule at Qi’ra’s history and the dark period of her life since we saw her last in Solo. Luckily we don’t have to wait long for the payoff.
Overlooking the tension between all the factions in the room is Leia, Lando, and Chewie, who have all bumped into Boba Fett, all waiting for a moment to retrieve Solo among the chaos. With tensions rise between the two parties, and both agreeing blasters would give away their location, a brawl between Fett and Chewie breaks out.
Lando sure knows how to bring the gravitas to a punchline. Luckily he also knows how to smother a fire quickly with his cape after Fett ends the fight like this…
This series has been an interesting look at Boba’s code and what makes him tick, we continue to see that code come out when he reveals he isn’t even interested in alternative credits, he just wants to fulfil his original bounty to Jabba.
As Vader orders his troopers to seize Solo, Qi’ra finally steps in, acknowledging that Vader must settle the matter of one million credits if he’s to take the prize.
Soule has really gotten the characterization of Qi’ra right in this series, everything she says you can imagine Emilia Clarke saying as the character.
Vader does not take kindly to this kind of insolence and draws his lightsaber. Qi’ra reveals she is prepared though in an amazing page from illustrators Luke Ross and David Messina.
As the two spar, Vader instantly recognizes the fighting style and even name checks it as Teräs Käsi, a fighting style used to combat Jedi that first originated in the 1996 novel, Shadows of the Empire.
Qi’ra’s time at Crimson Dawn is a mystery a lot of people are interested in seeing explored, so to even get references like this, to her time with Darth Maul, is a treat.
She holds her own very well against Vader, even surprising him with a few tricks, but eventually it’s in vain as he gains the upper hand.
Vader is always hard to write when he’s not the only protagonist in the story, as he’s supposed to be all-powerful and menacing compared to most individuals in the galaxy. When other characters have plot-armor, it sometimes makes him look foolish or uncharacteristically hesitant. Luckily Soule walks the line perfectly here, allowing Qi’ra to appear as the prepared, ruthless, and skilled fighter she is, while not undermining Vader’s power just to suit the narrative.
As the force would have it though, Luke Skywalker appears in system just at the right moment, distracting Vader. Qi’ra quickly retreats.
How much we’ll see of Qi’ra in the rest of this series is unsure, the recent announcement of Qi’ra’s own comic series set during this time period would hint that this might be the last we’ve seen of her in any major capacity and Crimson Dawn will take a step back for the remainder of the crossover. Regardless, her part in this issue is a highlight.
Vader is able to establish a comm connection with Luke’s X-Wing and gives another ultimatum: come meet him or Solo dies.
Whether the two will meet we’ll have to wait and see, but it wouldn’t be surprising if they didn’t, since Return of the Jedi sort of implies it has been a while since they’ve seen one another and that Luke has grown and matured a lot. Having a full confrontation at this point in the timeline could cause continuity issues it’s easier to just avoid.
This crossover has been a bit slow in places and this issue is no different; the plot didn’t progress much from the start of the issue. Luckily though, the team behind this make up for it with great dialogue, cool setpieces, and lore references to keep us on our toes as readers. With this crossover, the Qi’ra series, and another unnamed arc forming what Charles Soule is calling a trilogy, this is continuing to be a wild time for Star Wars comic book fans.