Star Wars just took its most ambitious crossover event to the next level with the War of the Bounty Hunters comic series from Marvel.
When War of the Bounty Hunters was announced earlier this year, we knew roughly what to expect from the spinoff series set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The notorious bounty hunter Boba Fett leads the series, written by Star Wars author Charles Soule, and explores all that happens to Fett between him nabbing the frozen-in-carbonite Han Solo on Bespin and delivering the bounty to Jabba the Hutt on Tatooine.
Though the first two issues of the event already delivered a seedy space adventure to keep looking forward to every month, the character revelation at the end of the first official issue makes it clear the fun is just beginning.
*Warning! Spoilers ahead for War of the Bounty Hunters #1*
In the prelude (issue #0), we learn that on the way to deliver the carbonite slab to Jabba, Solo’s frozen body was stolen from Fett while he was stopped on Nar Shadaa, called the “Smuggler’s Moon.” In the official issue #1, titled Most Wanted, we see Fett get big mad at losing his bounty and even bigger mad learning there’s now a bounty on his head — one that’s open to every hunter in the galaxy.
As Fett tries to find out who stole Solo and get him back before Jabba starts questioning where he is, Fett has to fight off continuous attacks from other bounty hunters trying to reap their own reward. Fan-favorite bounty hunters from The Empire Strikes Back, 4-LOM and Zuckuss, are among the hunters going after the credits on Fett’s head, despite them being (somewhat) respected colleagues. An explosive fight between the three ends with Fett taking the still-working droid head of 4-LOM and plugging it into his ship to find out who ordered the hit on him.
It turns out, it was Jabba all along. The Hutt is pretty angry that Fett is not only running late but also that he had the prized Solo bounty stolen from him. How does Jabba know this? The person, er people, who stole Solo orchestrated the whole thing.
The puppet master behind this conspiracy to undermine Fett, Solo, Jabba and basically every other major player in the galaxy is Crimson Dawn — the crime syndicate created by Darth Maul at the end of the Clone Wars and seen on screen in Solo: A Star Wars Story. With Darth Maul gone, who is the leader of Crimson Dawn who wants to revitalize the crime group by offering the Solo popsicle to the highest bidder, angering the entire galaxy?
It’s Qi’ra, Solo’s ex.
The Corellian Qi’ra (played by Emilia Clarke) was last seen in Solo more than 10 years before the events of War of the Bounty Hunters. In Solo’s end-credit scene, Qi’ra is seen talking to a holo of Crimson Dawn leader Darth Maul, who says they will be workly more closely together now that former figurehead Dryden Vos is dead. Rebels fans know Darth Maul was killed about a year later by the exiled Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine.
In the comic, a cloaked Qi’ra is seen explaining to her crew why capturing Solo, in particular, is much more than a grab for power. Solo, she says, is connected to every major player in the galaxy — from the Empire and the Rebel Alliance to the bounty hunters and the Hutts.
“They all love him, hate him, need him, owe him or are owed by him,” Qi’ra says. “Han Solo unites the galaxy. And that right now, is exactly what I need.”
The issue ends with that jaw-dropping cliffhanger, setting up great potential for Qi’ra and Fett and high expectations for the next issues of War of the Bounty Hunters. Whatever happens next, it’s clear Star Wars is eager to keep digging into stories and characters that arent’ Jedi or Sith and don’t necessarily have direct, timeline-changing connections to the Skywalker saga.
War of the Bounty Hunters #2 comes out July 14. Tie-in stories are also featured in select issues of Star Wars, Bounty Hunters, Darth Vader and Doctor Aphra.