As the “War of the Bounty Hunters” continues, Princess Leia and the Rebels learn that Han Solo has been found. They also learn that Boba Fett has lost the carbonite frozen smuggler. If you’re a Rebel, especially one who is a part of Leia’s inner circle, you would think that was good news. However, maybe it’s too good.
In “Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters no.1,” Han’s old flame Qi’ra was revealed to be the architect behind this war. In my review on that issue, I mentioned that as leader of the revived Crimson Dawn criminal organization, Qi’ra is playing an intergalactic chess game with her being the queen and Han being the king. However, it appears that Leia is the queen on the other side of the board with Luke being her knight, Chewbacca being her rook, and Lando Calrissian being her bishop.
As the opposing chess piece on the other side of the board, Qi’ra could very well be the most dangerous opponent that Leia and the Rebels would have to face. And little does Leia know, Qi’ra and Han have history.
To Qi’ra, the Rebels, the Empire, the Hutts, and the bounty hunters are all pawns in her chest game. Keep in mind, while pawns can become powerful pieces in this game, it is the queen that is the most powerful piece on the board. Question is, which queen will win? Leia or Qi’ra?
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
As “War of the Bounty Hunters” continues from the point-of-view of the Rebel Alliance, Princess (General) Leia visualizes Han breaking free of his carbonite slab. She declares that she and the Rebels are going to rescue the smuggler. Having just gotten back from Nar Shaddaa, Luke, C-3PO, and Chewie are puzzled as to how someone could have gotten Han when Fett was in possession. Leia reveals that her long-time friend Amilyn Holdo, an informant for the Rebel Alliance, gave her information that Han is being auctioned off by the criminal organization Crimson Dawn.
If you watched “Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi,”which takes place 30 years after “Return of the Jedi,” you would know that Amilyn Holdo was a politician and one of the military leaders in the Resistance. When Leia was incapacitated after an attack by her son Kylo Ren and the First Order, Holdo took over for her much to Resistance pilot Poe Dameron’s chagrin. Holdo managed to follow Leia’s plan of helping the Resistance survive while they were pursued by the First Order throughout hyperspace. Holdo would ultimately sacrifice herself as Leia and the resistance retreated to the planet Crait.
After reviewing the holo-message from Holdo, Leia sends Chewie and Threepio to recruit Lando Calrissian for the mission since he knows more about Crimson Dawn and the criminal underworld. In this scene, Luke and Leia have a talk about how her recent run in with Imperial Commander Zahra affected her role as the symbol of the Rebel Alliance. Luke notices that while Leia says and does all the right things, she is not doing so from the heart like she usually does.
I love how writer Charles Soule added the stress that Leia experiences with being a symbol of hope and inspiration to the freedom fighters of the Rebellion. With this scene alone, I am reminded that out of almost everyone in the Rebellion, Leia has lost the most. She witnessed the destruction of her world Alderaan, lost her adopted family, and recently, lost the man she fell in love with. I am also reminded that even someone as fierce and brave as Princess Leia struggles with mental health since the events surrounding the Rebel Alliance being scattered and Han being frozen in carbonite have taken a toll on her. The news of Han being found brings renewed hope to the fatigued leader.
Motivated to rescue the smuggler, Leia takes the Millennium Falcon to the ice planet of Jekara where the auction for Han is being held at. The princess brings along Chewie, Threepio, Lobot, and Lando while Luke plans on rendezvousing with them after a patrol with Wedge Antilles. Leia’s plan involves her posing as a wealthy ruler and to bid for Han. Lando warns Leia that the plan may not be as simple as she thinks since Crimson Dawn is a dangerous criminal organization and not one to be taken lightly. Lando of all people would know since he, Han, and Chewie had dealt with them as seen in the movie “Solo: A Star Wars Story”
Meanwhile, after being convinced by Chewie, it seems that Lando is on board with the plan and willing to save Han after getting him frozen in carbonite. However, the gambler has plans of his own which involve Jabba the Hutt. Since Jabba is also going to attend the auction, Calrissian plans on stealing the talky droid from the Rebels and delivering it to the crime lord by jettisoning it in Jekara’s orbit. The talky droid was used as a part of Operation Starlight, a military plan to bring the scattered Rebel Alliance fleet together by using it’s knowledge of the ancient Trawak language. After the Falcon jumps out of hyperspace, Lando is able to jettison the talky droid. However, the droid pleads that he can fix Lobot’s condition and it does just that. Lobot, able to talk normally again, tells Lando that the droid somehow was able to make him talk. Horrified at what he did, Lando panics and tells Lobot that he needs to find a way to have Chewie circle back so that they can get the droid.
Soule’s written portrayal of Lando is a highlight of this comic. We know that by the “Return of the Jedi.” Lando has redeemed himself and gained the trust of the Rebels. However, we see the complicated road to Lando’s redemption. Soule’s Calrissian is morally ambiguous and dubious. And in some ways, Lando is a wild card. He can seemingly be working for one side or he can be working for the other and no one would know. But one thing that anyone would know is that Lando is looking out for Lando.
While the Falcon heads over to Jekara, the Corellian Freighter bumps into a Black Sun capital ship. Chewie outmannervers the pursuing starfighters from Black Sun crash lands the Falcon on the planet. Leia sees Qi’ra’s massive ship before her and declares that she and her team will succeed in rescuing Han because they are his only hope.
Going straight into the art and coloring done by Roman Rosanas and Rachelle Rosenberg, my favorite part of the comic is the splash of Han Solo being thawed out of carbonite in Lea’s visualization. This scene made me question if Leia was unwittingly using the Force to see a vision of the future since this eventually does happen in the “Return of the Jedi.” Even though this splash clearly shows that Solo is in the carbonite chamber on Cloud City, not Jabba’s Palace, it is a reminder of what Yoda once told Ahsoka Tano in regards to her visions: “always in motion is the future.” And let’s not forget who Leia is related to.
In addition, the splash of the Millennium Falcon crashing on a snowy plain on Jekara with Qi’ra’s Crimson Dawn ship is another favorite scene. It evokes what is expected to be in store for Leia and the heroes. What, or who, besides Han Solo, is aboard that ship? The scene also evokes the notion that the auction is not going to be easy for Leia especially since Crimson Dawn and other criminal syndicates, like Black Sun, are involved.
Overall, while this issue did not involve any bounty hunters, I think that is acceptable since this is just the start in the Rebels point-of-view in the “War of the Bounty Hunters.” This issue did not need bounty hunters popping up at every corner. This was a Princes Leia-centric comic and it makes sense because it is her sole mission to save the man she loves. And it also sets up an eventual showdown between Leia and Qi’ra. Or maybe it might be a mutual understanding between the two. Who knows what could go down with bounty hunters, criminal organizations, Sith lords, and Jedi thrown into the mix.
“Star Wars no. 14” is available at your local comic book shop or wherever comic books are sold.
Synopsis: “War of the Bounty Hunters” tie-in! The Rebels finally have a lead on the location of Han Solo! It’s time to save the captain of the Millennium Falcon from his frozen carbonite tomb! A general, a Jedi, and a Wookie will mount a desperate rescue mission… But they have no idea what actually awaits them.
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VCD’s Clayton Cowles