As the “War of the Bounty Hunters” continues, everyone’s path is leading to the newly reborn Crimson Dawn. Just about everyone in the galaxy, whether they have a connection to the carbonite frozen Han Solo or unfinished business with Solo or Crimson Dawn, has an invitation for the auction of Han Solo being held on the frozen planet of Jekara. One person who has been invited is armed smuggler Ebann Drake who is aboard a luxury liner The Opal Empress which is orbiting the Outer Rim planet Kaderin.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
Drake is Domina Tagge’s cousin who she has been trying to get ahold of. She suspects that Ebann is deviating from his tasks as an employee of Tagge Corporation. She tasks archaeologist Doctor Chelli Aphra and Smuggler Sana Starros into finding Drake.
Chelli and Sana arrive on the Opal Empress, a luxury spaceship that was orbiting the Outer Rim planet Kaderin. Earlier in the comic, Ebann was aboard the liner partying and enjoying some caviar that, little to his knowledge, turned out to be deadly. He is also seen holding an invitation from Crimson Dawn in his hand. When Chelli and Sana are inside the ship, they notice that the passengers are dead, which causes them to feel less confident about Ebann’s chance of surviving. While searching for Drake, Aphra hears a sound and suspects that someone is aboard the ship. The two eventually find Drake’s body which has a hole in his forehead. Aphra also notices an odd organism near Drake and decides to take it so that she can study it. She also examines the invitation from Crimson Dawn and learns about the auction for Han Solo’s carbonite slab, which gets Sana’s attention.
In the earlier “Star Wars” comics, Sana and Han have some history. During one smuggling job, Han married Sana; however, the Corellian ran away with her cut of the money, which left a bad taste in her mouth. The two would have animosity towards each other until they started to work together in the Rebellion. Sana was also one of the few to notice the brewing romantic tension between Solo and Princess Leia. So, it is no wonder why the announcement of Solo being auctioned off from Crimson Dawn would pique her interest. “Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters no. 1” revealed Sana was eager to rescue him while Aphra did not want to have anything to do with Solo or Crimson Dawn.
While Sana inquires if Aphra is sure about the whereabouts of Han Solo during their exposition-filled conversation, the Bounty Hunter Durge appears and nearly shoots them. Durge tells the two that Ebann was his bounty and that the arms smuggler was wanted in two different systems for smuggling weapons and murder. Not only did the mysterious bounty hunter want Drake, but he also wanted him alive. Aphra examined Durge’s armor and correctly deduced that he was not the one that killed the people aboard the Opal Empress. Sana alerts Aphra and Durge as parasites (which were found in the caviar Drake was eating earlier) come out from the vent to attack the trio. Aphra notes that the parasites are cymotes, creatures that lay eggs inside a host and that once the eggs hatch, the cymotes eat their way out of the host. As the parasites start chasing the trio, one of them hatches from the larva that Aprha was holding which causes the archaeologist to fling it away.
As the cymotes attack, Durge, like his Legends counterpart, proves to be a tough to kill antagonist and a formidable weapon. However, unlike his legends counterpart, the bounty hunter has more personality and dry humor, which is a plus and what he was missing. I give major kudos to writer Alyssa Wong for breathing life into Durge. When he, Aphra, and Sana lock themselves in the ship’s kitchen, the bounty hunter also shows Aphra and Starros that his rifle can change into a powerhouse weapon, and he tells the two that he is “hard to kill.” Chelli and Sana also develop a brilliant plan to lure the cymotes into the airlock since they have a weakness to atmospheric pressure. Duege shows more of his unique arsenal and agrees to help the two lure the cymotes into the airlock. As the trio lures the cymotes, the bounty hunter uses his big gun and other gadgets to blast the cymotes. Despite his arsenal,Durge is overcome by the cymotes, with some comic relief, the bounty hunter tells Aphra and Sana to hurry up and calls the cymotes “little doshers.”
As the trio reaches the airlock, Aphra being her morally ambiguous self, yanks Sana back while locking the cymote-covered Durge. Before Aphra jettisons Durge out of the airlock, the bounty hunter tells Aphra they had a deal. Aphra, somewhat, makes a good point by saying that she placed him in the airlock due to Durge’s hard-to-kill claim, which led to Durge floating in space while the cymotes explode. And if Durge is like his Legends counterpart, I do not think that this was the last we’ve seen of him.
At the end of the comic, Aphra and Starros report to Dommina of Drake’s death and also the invitation to the Crimson Dawn auction. In addition, Aphra’s occasional allies, Just Lucky and Ariole Yu, are also on their way to Jekara to track down a traitor of the Sixth Kin, who happens to be a mentor who took them in.
The writing in this issue was enjoyable. The way Allyssa Wong writes gives characters life. The character of Doctor Aphra has grown on me since she is entertaining, jolly, and dubious. She is neither hero nor villain, and that is what makes her fun and interesting. If there is one thing she shares with bounty hunter Boba Fett, she believes in living a simple life to make her way in the galaxy. She is a wildcard who just wants to live life being an archaeologist and being rich. She could care less about the Galactic Civil War.
Wong’s written portrayal of Durge surprised me. As mentioned before, she breathed life into a character I felt had no substance. As mentioned before, Wong’s Durge had attitude and dry wit that made me like this bounty hunter version.
My favorite illustrations from Minkyu Jung and Rachelle Rosenburg were Ebann enjoying his ‘caviar’ with a glutinous expression. You could see that just by looking at his face, the spoiled cousin of Dommina Tagge is as hungry as he is greedy. Another favorite image is a splash of Aphra showing Sana the Crimson Dawn auction invitation. With that smile on her face, you know that she is an opportunist, especially since she mentions the auction. Furthermore, Durge fighting off the cymotes was another awesome image showing how ruthless a bounty hunter he is with guns blazing.
Doctor Aphra is set to team up with Boba Fett in “War of the Bounty Hunters no.2.” I can’t wait to see how that partnership turns out since Boba Fett is more straight-faced than the quirky Aphra. However, since they are both opportunistic, the partnership might just work. But we’ll have to wait until “War of the Bounty Hunters no. 2” comes out.
Doctor Aphra is now available wherever comic books are sold.
Synopsis: Mysteries abound aboard a durge-anged ship! Doctor Aphra and Sana Starros discover an eerie abandoned ship while on a new mission from Domina Tagge. But on board they will come face-to-face with a nightmarish horror not seen in the galaxy for untold eons. And then there’s—.the fearsome bounty hunter Durge!
Writer: Alyssa Wong
Artist: Minkyu Jung
Inker: Victor Olazaba
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna