‘Await The Reign’ is the common refrain through the final issue of War Of The Bounty Hunters, and while the future of Qi’ra is endlessly intriguing, this mantra starts to sound more like a delaying tactic. The crossover is inherently spinning its tires as it plays keep-away with a frozen Han Solo; fans already know where he and this story are going.
Fans don’t know where Qi’ra will end up, except that her ambitions will continue in subsequent comic books. As issue #5 progresses toward its inevitable climax, it’s clear nothing of real consequence will happen in it. The comic even goes to unrealistic lengths to get everyone in their places, and presents some of the most anticipated elements of this story far too late.
It’s only in this issue, the final chapter of the War Of The Bounty Hunters crossover, that Leia discovers that Han Solo and Qi’ra used to be a thing back in the day. While there may be limits on what can and can’t be done with Leia and Qi’ra, the narrative opportunity of any kind of conflict between them is squandered – in this series at least – with a few brief panels.
The missed opportunity to really develop these threads undermines a story that has the narrative real estate across numerous tie-in issues to investigate. Since fans know what happens at the end of this story to everyone but Qi’ra and Crimson Dawn, this would have been one of the most rewarding parts of the story.
Backing up a bit, the issue brings all the elements of the crossover together. Everyone tries to get Han Solo in a heist gone sideways. The Hutt Council led by Bokku launches an attack on an Imperial shuttle ferrying Han back to the Empire. Boba Fett and Valance try to take advantage of the chaos. Leia, Lando, and Chewie really just watch since their engines are shot.
Vader pursues Luke in yet another tire-spinning moment. Luke and Vader will not have a meaningful encounter until Return of the Jedi, and this scene is one of many familiar to fans of books and comics over the years (there were some in Shadows Of The Empire, which this story is overwriting in canon).
It’s made worse by how Vader is prevented from capturing Luke. He warns Admiral Piett not to contact him again unless it’s with direct orders from the Emperor. Once the Hutts begin a brazen assault on a Star Destroyer, Piett calls Palpatine and then calls Vader with orders to get back to the fight.
This isn’t believable in the slightest. If it was as simple as Admiral Piett calling dad to get around the anger of Darth Vader, he’d do it all the time. It’s clear from the movies this is a tactic with no basis in reality. This moment merely exists to get Vader out of an encounter that can’t happen because of canon.
Boba Fett goes full Boba Fett on just about everybody, including Valance, who he double-crosses because of course, he does. Boba gets on to the Star Destroyer and to Han Solo in a way that is a little too easy. Granted, he’s getting some inside help from Qi’ra, but it would have been nice to see some kind of challenge for him.
Another moment that rings false is Leia’s admission that she almost lost hope of getting Han back. This doesn’t seem like Leia, certainly with what fans have seen of her in regards to getting Han Solo back. If it had come in a moment of private introspection, maybe, but she blurts it out in front of everybody.
Vader deals with the upstart Hutts and dispatches Bokku, leaving Jabba alone in control of the entire cartel. This is really to clear the path for Boba Fett in The Book Of Boba Fett, one assumes, as Jabba’s days are numbered. In the climax of the issue, Boba retrieves Han Solo, delivers him to Jabba, and everything is where it must be at the end of the story.
The issue ends with a compelling moment where Qi’ra admits she intended for Han to go back to his people. That indicates some measure of light remains in the character, even as her nefarious ambitions become more and more obvious. Her intergalactic plans accelerate and, in the final moments, she greets a number of new allies of Crimson Dawn. Fans will be excited to see that some of them include the Knights of Ren, including Ren himself. Her story continues in Crimson Reign, the upcoming mini-series by Charles Soule.
Qi’ra is one of the most fascinating characters in Star Wars lore right now, and the prospect of her story continuing is very welcome. She’s one of the few characters in the canon who spans all the eras of the saga to this point – the prequels, original trilogy, and potentially the sequels, but certainly the era of The Mandalorian and The Book Of Boba Fett. While it’s fun to speculate on her return to live-action, especially in regards to Boba Fett, there is nothing concrete in the comics so far to point to that.
The art by Luke Ross and David Messina deserves a lot of praise. The likenesses, always hard in Star Wars comics, are on point. The action scenes are good, though it feels like some beats are missing at times, particularly in the sequence aboard the Star Destroyer. This is a function of a story moving along at a relentless clip toward its finale, though. That said, there are some iconic Boba Fett images in the story as there have been throughout the entire crossover event.
Overall, the crossover was an exciting and entertaining story, with some great art and character moments. It didn’t feel nearly as universe-expanding as Shadows Of The Empire did, even if the focus was on a relatively new character like Qi’ra. War Of The Bounty Hunters #5 is a decent conclusion for the huge Star Wars crossover event, but really is just set up for the future.