Han Solo’s checkered past returns in ‘Star Wars: The War of the Bounty Hunters no. 1’

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“War of the Bounty Hunters no. 1” was an issue that featured a reveal which I didn’t see coming. It appears that the frozen Han Solo is the high-value target in this ongoing war, and only time will tell where the spoils of war will fall and which regime will reign victorious. For example, the Rebel Alliance, The Empire, the Hutts, and practically all the bounty hunters in the galaxy are involved. 

However, behind the scenes, the strings of strategy are manipulated and controlled by a shadowy figure who feels reminiscent of Emperor Palpatine writing the script of the clone wars leading to the Jedi genocide disguised under the banner of the galaxy propaganda labeled as “Order 66.” Star Wars has always been perceived as a well-laid out methodical chess match, and it’s clear “The War of the Bounty Hunters” arc is no different. 

Now I want to elevate our fictional aspirations by connecting the struggles of war with the allegory of a chess match. You would know that the queen chess piece can move anywhere on the board for those familiar with the activity, which means it is the most powerful and versatile piece on the board. 

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

This is where the Star Wars connection takes center stage; writer-author Charles Soule has finally revealed that the tide-turning queen chess piece is none other than Qi’ra, who fans will know was last seen in “Solo: A Star Wars Story”(2018) who was brought to life actress Emila Clarke. However, it’s clear to see after the events of the flim transpired, Qi’ra has officially taken the role of leader for criminal organization Crimson Dawn, and to note was once Han Solo’s first love interest from his childhood on the planet Corellia. 

Photos courtesy of Marvel

The final pages were gripping and nerve-inducing because of Qi’Ra being revealed to be the one to have taken Han from Boba Fett, which would be a powder keg reaction igniting the “War of the Bounty Hunters.” I feel this revelation paints Han Solo as the King chess piece that is not quite as powerful as the Queen but rather the piece that needs the most protection, and it is the most crucial piece. 

I felt Han being frozen in carbonite was symbolic of a king being trapped by other chess pieces signaling the end of the game and ending the war. To note, I need to praise and commend Soule for being able to flip the established canon and fix the glaring plot threads by reintroducing Qi’Ra in a position of significance. 

The reemergence of Qi’ra was extremely explosive because, as a fan, I often wondered what happened to Qi’ra after she departed from Han toward the end of “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” 

It’s valid to think about how the film elaborated on Han and Qi’ra growing up on Corellia as scrumrats, or children taken in by the White Worms, a criminal organization headed by Lady Proxima. The events of their traumatic childhood saw Solo and Qi’ra having to do odd jobs for the cruel Lady Proxima, who would punish or abuse them if they did not deliver as promised. 

Of course, during those hard times, Han and Qi’ra’s relationship did blossom into something quite romantic. Till one day, Han decided to steal a vial of coaxium, which is a costly starship fuel. Han and Qi’ra’s goal was to sell the coaxium to get enough money to buy their ship, get out of Corellia, and live life together. However, as they tried to go through an Imperial checkpoint, Han was cut off from Qi’ra and forced to leave her while he enlisted in the Empire to learn to become a pilot so that he could come back for her. 

To note, it would be three long grueling years until Solo got the opportunity to desert the Empire, with help from his oldest friend Chewbacca. Also, slight to Han’s knowledge, Qi’ra became involved with Crimson Dawn which the Sith Lord Maul led until his death at the hands of Jedi knight Obi-Wan Kenobi on the desert planet Tatooine( Star Wars: Rebels S3 E20) 

Photos courtesy of Marvel

In addition to her newly found allegiance, Qi’ra became more lethal and cunning as she was taught the ancient martial art of Teras Kasi, rose in Crimson Dawn’s ranks, and became crime lord Dryden Vos’ right-hand woman. Han would then go on to be reunited with Qi’ra when Crimson Dawn hired him, Chewie, his mentor Tobias Beckett, and eventual friend Lando Calrissian to get Coaxium from the mines of Kessel. 

During that time, they rekindled their romance, but it was short-lived after Beckett double-crossed them and Qi’ra killed Vos on the planet Savareen. After leaving Han, Qi’ra had to return to Maul and report the news of Vos’ murder. She did not mention Han’s involvement in protecting him from the ruthless sith. After killing Beckett, Solo and Chewie watched as Qi’ra left them aboard Vos’ ship, the First Light.

Now Qi’ra has made her presence known among the criminal underworld as the face of Crimson Dawn by inviting the Hutts to purchase the frozen Han Solo. Around this time and since Maul’s death, Crimson Dawn was dormant, but with Qi’ra running the organization and using Han as a pawn, she wants to return it to its former glory or maybe even more significant than it was. 

I noticed Soule positioned Qi’ra in the “War of the Bounty Hunters’ almost as determined and cunning as the pre-Disney Expanded Universe, or Legends, character Prince Xizor. To report, both ran criminal organizations and played near all sides (Rebels, Empire, and bounty hunters) as pawns in their game, and both were very subtle in their plans. Nobody knew what Xizor was up to until it was revealed that he was playing both the Rebels and the Empire while plotting to get revenge on Darth Vader for killing his family on his home planet. Xizor offered to provide ships to help build the second Death Star while he convinced Palpatine to let the Rebels get their hands on the Second Death Star plans. To Xizor, whether the Rebels or the Empire won, he would profit either way. In addition, Xizor sent bounty hunters to kill Luke Skywalker so that the Emperor could lose favor with Vader. 

I feel the writers are using the template of Xizor to determine the role of Qi’ra in this narrative even though, at times, nobody can tell what’s she truly up to. One lingering thought that could shed light on Qi’ra’s role in this highly volatile arc is she mentioned that Han always wanted to save her, and now he has that chance. It makes me question what does she mean by that

Photos courtesy of Marvel

I felt that Soule left the last scene ambiguous even though it left the fans wondering what will transpire and will it affect the established lore of the original trilogy, and will certain events be retconned. However, the comment from Han’s old flame could perhaps be a red herring planted by the writers to keep the readers and audience on their toes going forward.  

It does raise the question of whether she wants to eventually reunite with Han and start that life they always dreamt of while residing in the slums of poverty as scrumrats on Corelia. Another theory could be there is something or someone else that she needs her former lover to save her from. Of course, while encased in carbonite the looming thought of if Han somehow knows that he is in possession of his former lover? The questions keep coming because why doesn’t Qi’ra just thaw him out like Princess Leia would in the “Return of the Jedi?” Maybe she needs to make the right moves against the people that may get in her way. Perhaps a threat like Boba Fett.

Fett may be a simple pawn making his way on the chessboard we call the galaxy, but a pawn can always get promoted when making it at the other board. The son of the Mandalorian foundling Jango Fett wants his property back and is willing to do whatever it takes. In the span of a couple of pages, he has already killed several bounty hunters going after him, including Zuckuss, who prophesized that he would end up in a “sea of red.” He also entered Jabba’s Palace, with guns blazing, demanding why the Hutt placed a bounty on his head and eventually found out that the leader of Crimson Dawn stole Solo from him. Fett could very well be the pawn who takes down the Queen in the form of Qi’ra, but it won’t be easy since Qi’ra can very well hold her own as a trained Teras Kasi martial artist. 

In addition to the inner machinations of Boba Fett’s role in this chapter of Star Wars, I need to question what the part of the Rebels, including Luke Skywalker, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, and Princess Leia is? Luke was a simple farm boy turned neophyte Jedi who could not intimidate a scrumrat turned crime lady. 

For Qi’ra (Who had Maul as her employer and probably her mentor), Luke could be this week’s opponent though knowing the hero who blew up the first Death Star, anything is possible. A gambler who lost was responsible for her former lover being frozen would have Qi’ra feeling some kind of way towards Calrissian, and at this point, the former gambler needs all the friends he can get since Leia still has a bone to pick with him. And Chewie? Everyone, including Qi’ra, loves Chewie. Of course, though Leia is a princess from Alderaan meeting face to face with the former girlfriend of the man she loves? This would probably involve Luke, Lando, and Chewie grabbing the popcorn and watching these two ladies duke it out. 

If Qi’ra were ever to encounter those outsides of the Rebel Alliance, like Doctor Aphra or Sana Starros, the former would not be too impressed and have questions about why she is holding the frozen Han Solo. The latter would be attracted to Qi’ra and try to steal some High Republic artifacts. But again, I think Qi’ra would not be one to mess with, given her background. And the other bounty hunters Valance and Dengar would probably be wise not to underestimate Han Solo’s former girlfriend. 

Or lastly, what if Qi’ra encounters Darth Vader and the Empire?Or the Hutts? What could happen then? We haven’t even scratched the surface here yet.

Switching gears from Soule’s writing, the art done by Luke Ross and colored by Neeraj Menon is phenomenal. From the likeness of the characters to the settings on the planets like Tatooine and Nar Shardaa, Ross’s illustrations are very detailed. For instance, the drawings of Han Solo in carbonite, Boba Fett, Bib Fortuna, and Qi’ra are drawn as if Ross ripped them out of the “Star Wars” movies. Boba Fett’s battered armor is very detailed, from the dent on his helmet to the scrapes and dings on his shoulder pads and chest plate. 

Photos courtesy of Marvel

My favorite drawing was of Qi’ra. At the very end of the comic, her reveal as the leader of Crimson Dawn and, arguably, the architect behind the “War of the Bounty Hunters” is explosive. Qi’ra, with the likeness of her portrayer Emilia Clarke, has a serene expression about her as she reveals her concealed face to the reader. The panel was enough to make “Star Wars” fans like me fall from the edge of our seats. The graphic alone, along with Soule’s writing, made the bridge between “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and the original “Star Wars Trilogy,” or “Skywalker Saga,” finally line up in a chronological reality.

As Qi’ra mentioned, all the major organizations in the galaxy that Han was ever involved in or had their eyes set on the frozen carbonite sculpture. The Rebel Alliance, Galactic Empire, Jabba, and his fellow Hutts, bounty hunters, and Crimson Dawn all have a claim to Han Solo, whether for love or hate or debt. 

It is no secret that Qi’ra still in love with her childhood friend and former lover; however, maybe her motivations are echoing advice that Beckett gave to a young Han Solo: “You wanna know how I’ve survived as long as I have? I trust no one. Assume everyone will betray you, and you will never be disappointed.”

I have seen several articles that said that the “War of the Bounty Hunters” is a sequel to “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” I have to agree with those articles because, as I have mentioned before, Charles Soule’s addition of Qi’ra bridges “Solo” and the “Skywalker Saga.” And with Qi’ra added into the picture, expect big things to happen and probably good and bad memories to be revisited. 

“Star Wars: The War of the Bounty Hunters no.1” is available at your local comic book shop or wherever comic books are sold. 

Synopsis: A war for the greatest prize of all: Han Solo! The hunt begins! Nobody. Steals. From Boba Fett! The notorious bounty hunter will not stop until he gets what;s rightfully his. For the thief, no corner of the galaxy is safe. Good thing for them that the Rebel Alliance, The Empire and every bounty hunter in the galaxy is standing in Boba’s way. With a last-page reveal that will blow this Death Star-sized story wide open, Issue#1 is just the beginning. The biggest crossover in “Star Wars” history will continue raging through the pages of the War of the Bounty Hunters event miniseries and tie-in to “Star Wars” “Doctor Aphra,” “Darth Vader” and “Bounty Hunters” through October. Only one hunter will be left standing, and the Star Wars galaxy will never be the same! 

  • Writer: Charles Soule
  • Artist: Luke Ross
  • Colorist: Neeraj Menon
  • Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
  • Publisher: Marvel

Brian Adigwu

Brian of Earth-16 is a podcaster for the Geek Talk with Brian of Earth-16 and a contributing writer/journalist for the Daily Planet. You can also hear Brian on the DC Comics Geeks Nation podcast. When not writing, Brian enjoys going to the world of comic books, TV shows, video games, and pro-wrestling. He also loves listening to other podcasts and having a philosophical conversation.

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