Review – A Shared Love on the Verge of Lost Hope in Marvel’s Star Wars #18

 

The titular Star Wars Marvel series ends its run in the War of the Bounty Hunters with a somber, reflective issue. I’ve enjoyed these final, quieter issues wrapping up War of the Bounty Hunters much more than the more explosive, action-heavy ones. Writer Charles Soule takes an opportunity to put Qi’ra and Leia in the same space, giving them a chance at understanding. Though they exist in two very different parts of the galaxy far, far away, they may find their shared enemies and love could bridge an alliance. SPOILERS AHEAD….

 

 

After a seeming failure to rescue Han, Leia and Chewbacca are feeling pretty down. Aboard the Millennium Falcon, the last few years of tragedy hit Leia. She feels disillusioned, wondering if she’s just going through the motions in a futile fight against evil in the galaxy. Star Wars characters aren’t often allowed to feel their feelings like this, especially when threaded in self-doubt. The hardships Leia’s experienced are often portrayed as collections to some sort of emotional armor we all assume she’s wearing. Soule allows the character a moment to reflect and a moment where she doesn’t have to be the badass space general we’ve come to expect. She can be a human and mourn the deep loss she’s recently experienced.

 

 

Just when things couldn’t get more hopeless, Crimson Dawn returns, right after Lando discovers the hyperdrive is disabled. As they prepare for whatever fate the ruthless syndicate has in store for them, they receive a strange request from Qi’ra herself. She wishes to board and speak directly with Leia. Get your popcorn ready.

 

 

Qi’ra has words only for Leia. The general is ready to listen but keeps a blaster trained on Qi’ra the whole time. As Qi’ra expresses her history with Han and how she still cares for him, Leia calls Bantha fodder since Qi’ra is the one who arranged for every criminal in the galaxy to gather and bid on Han. Surprisingly, Qi’ra claims it was a way to help herself and ensure Han ended up back with Leia. She lays out all the elaborate lengths she took: pitting Hutts against the Empire and each other, fighting Vader herself, and using one of her Imperial spies to look the other way when Leia boarded the Executor. It all lines up, but Leia’s still upset Qi’ra used Han as a pawn in her ambitions.

 

 

Qi’ra expresses gratitude that Han’s finally able to be the person she always believed in. There are a lot of callbacks to Solo: A Star Wars Story in this issue, with Qi’ra recalling her time with Han on Corellia. Leia doesn’t lower her blaster, but takes the opportunity to learn more about the person she loves. The jealousy or rivalry one might expect from a current lover confronting a former lover, or vice versa, is something both Leia and Qi’ra rise above. I’m glad Soule didn’t use this tired trope and instead focused on the empathy and hope both share for a person like Han. It’s much more in line with what we’ve seen from Leia and Qi’ra.

 

 

Qi’ra shares the brutal childhood she and Han endured under Lady Proxima, highlighting the moment she realized the good in Han. When the two of them encountered a younger child being assaulted, Han stepped in and nearly lost his life doing so. After he’d nearly been beaten to death, he didn’t express any regret. Instead, he felt grateful he’d been able to do the right thing, if only for one moment, defying a galaxy filled with selfishness and all the wrong things. It’s a touching story, demonstrating the optimism which always lived inside the dry, sarcastic smuggler who eventually decided to do the right thing.

 

 

Qi’ra also tells Leia that Han lives. Though he’s been delivered via Boba Fett to Jabba the Hutt, Qi’ra offers to join them in a rescue. Leia knows she has to get back to the Rebel Alliance, and any operation to rescue Han from Jabba is going to require careful planning.

 

 

Qi’ra pledges her spies in Jabba’s Palace will help… and also offers to help the Rebels with her network of Imperial spies. Well, now, this is very interesting. No doubt Soule is laying some tasty bread crumbs for the forthcoming Crimson Reign, and my interest in this series, already peaking, just went through the roof. We’ll likely see Qi’ra and Leia working together, even though the bridge of trust will likely be a shaky one. On that note, Qi’ra departs the Falcon, leaving the necessary data card to repair the hyperdrive. She and Leia will go their separate ways, but there’s much promise they’ll see each other again very soon.

 

This is by far my favorite issue in War of the Bounty Hunters. It’s a great conclusion and sets up so many great things for future stories. I’m very pleased each series will be getting back to business as usual, especially Star Wars. The vulnerability Soule provided both Qi’ra and Leia made this issue so strong. It will be interesting to see their relationship evolve, while Lando is still one-foot out of the Rebellion. The dashing rogue still has a ways to go before committing to the Rebellion, so I look forward to his journey getting there. And Luke… well, check out the cover of the next issue below. Star Wars is back!

 

RATING: 7.5/10

 

 

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Kyle Larson lives in Portland, Oregon. When he's not running trails, he's reading and writing.

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson lives in Portland, Oregon. When he's not running trails, he's reading and writing.

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