Who would ever think that one ordinary man would bring all the syndicates in the galaxy together under one roof? The same man who grew up not too far from the shipyards of Corellia. The same man who was labeled a scum rat and was, very likely, told that he would not amount to anything.
The same man who went through the depths of hell to achieve his dream of becoming one the greatest pilots in the galaxy and owning his own starship. Who would think that Han Solo would bring the galaxy together? Certainly not Han Solo himself.
And Han probably did not think that his ex-girlfriend, and fellow former scum rat, Qi’ra, who is the architect behind using him to bring almost the entire galaxy together. I think that is what makes “The War of the Bounty Hunters.” It is not just a story about bounty hunters going at it with each other guns blazing. This is also the forgotten and hidden love story between two former scum rats who depended on each other to survive. And while Qi’ra may have been the architect behind using the man she once loved to bring the galaxy together, bounty hunter Boba Fett was just the unwilling delivery person who gave Han to Qi’ra.
Now as this second issue unravels, just about everyone has come to the smuggler’s ball (which I think is a fitting title for the second issue of this crossover comic), and things have only just gotten started.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
On the frozen planet of Jekara aboard her fortress-flagship Vermillion, Qi’ra has amassed just about every syndicate and organization in the galaxy. Criminal syndicates like Black Sun, the Pykes, and many others have come all the way across the galaxy thanks to an invitation sent by Han Solo’s ex-girlfriend, who now runs Crimson Dawn (formerly operated by Sith Lord Maul). To add more fire to the powder keg, representing the Rebel Alliance are Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, and Chewbacca and representing the Empire are Administrator Sly Moore and several high ranking Imperial Officers. And you also have several other people attending including Doctor Aphra and Sana Sarros. And this cannot be a real explosive party without the Mandalorian-armor wearing bounty hunter Boba Fett.
As I read “War of the Bounty Hunters no. 2,” the one question I wanted to ask was why Qi’ra wants to auction off Han. And why is this auction a way to save her? Save her from what? Or perhaps save her from whom? Now, this issue does not answer those questions, but at the same time, it is these questions that make me realize just how complicated the story of Qi’ra and Han is. Two scrum rats who grew out of poverty and depended on each other to survive. Charles Soule’s writing makes it almost feel just like those old times between the former Corellian lovers (as seen in “Solo: A Star Wars Story and the stories surrounding the movie). And we see this when Qi’ra puts the frozen Han Solo out on display for everyone to see.
When I read the scene where Qi’ra was presenting the carbonite frozen Han Solo, I could not only hear Emilia Clarke’s voice in my head but I also could tell that the tone of those words were similar to the actress’. I’m willing to bet that Soule watched “Solo: A Star Wars Story” to do his research to capture Qi’ra’s voice and tone.
I’m also willing to bet that he researched some of Clarke’s spunky humor and wit from her interviews. This scene also reminded me of the scene from “Solo” where Qi’ra disguises herself as a slaver while having Han and Chewbacca pose as her slaves. In that scene, she punches Han in the stomach while also giving him his lucky dice that he gave her before the two parted which is a sign of affection between the two.
Circling back to the auction scene in the comic, you can hear Qi’ra completely trashing the man she once loved by saying that whoever buys Solo could do whatever they want to him.
It is here that I can clearly see that Qi’ra is putting on an act. I feel that the scene is giving us a tale of two Qi’ras. From the first issue, we see Qi’ra looking somber as she looks on at the frozen Solo. To me, the Qi’ra from the first issue was the Qi’ra from “Solo” who clearly loves Han and is reminiscing about the times they spent together.
The Qi’ra of the second issue is the charismatic and charming leader of Crimson Dawn who just wants to get rich. But we still do not know why she wants to use Han as a bargaining chip but we know that very soon, we are going to find out. And knowing this arc, the revelation is probably going to be as explosive as Qi’ra’s reveal in the first issue.
However, there seems to be a deterrent in Qi’ra’s plans. And it is in the form of a beskar armor wearing bounty hunter named Boba Fett and his new associate, Doctor Aphra.
Before crashing the party aboard Qi’ra’s ship, Fett gets ambushed by fellow bounty hunter Boosk. The bounty hunter uses his rocket launcher to injure the Trandoshian and uses him as a warning sign that those who go after Boba Fett for a bounty do so at their own peril. Next, Fett steals a cloak and Crimson Dawn invitation from a boastful criminal and infiltrates the auction.
Fett’s mission is simple: reclaim Han Solo so that he can deliver him to Jabba and get paid. When Boba infiltrates the auction, he recruits Doctor Aphra (who is at the auction to gather information from Domina Tagge) to help him create a distraction. He also does this by blackmailing Aphra by threatening to blow her cover. He advises Aphra to create a distraction when he presses a comm button. As Fett gets in position to reclaim Solo back, Qi’ra starts taking bids from the Pykes, Hutts, and the many in attendance.
What intrigues and humors me about this arc for Boba Fett is the irony it presents. Boba’s employer Jabba the Hutt, is also attending the party to get Han Solo for himself. The same Jabba that hired Boba to deliver Solo to him and the same Jabba who put a bounty on Boba’s head. And there is a scene in this issue that sums up that irony is when Jabba makes a bet of 200,000 credits, the bounty hunter says that was more than what Jabba paid him for the delivery of Solo. Now, I feel that with that scene, Soule had made reclaiming Solo somewhat more personal for Fett. Think about it. Boba Fett is regarded as the greatest, and deadliest, bounty hunter in the galaxy. The fact that he lost a carbonite slab of a smuggler could potentially wreck his reputation. And it is bad enough that he has a bounty on him by the very hutt who hired him.
At this point, Boba’s only option is to get his hands on Han Solo before either Jabba or someone else does. But by issue’s end, Boba Fett himself has a deterrent, three to be exact. First, Fett runs into Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, and Chewbacca; second, Jabba wins the auction by one million credits; and third, before Qi’ra can give her former lover away to the Hutt, Darth Vader crashes the party. At this point, Boba has a fight on his hands.
The illustration done by Luke Ross and the coloring by Neerah Menon brought out more of Crimson Dawn’s rebirth and extravagance under Qi’ra. The art exhibiting Qi’ra’s ship (outside and in) and Qi’ra herself show that Crimson Dawn has returned from the ashes after the death of Dryden Vos at the hands of Qi’ra and Maul at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi in “Star Wars: Rebels.”
In my opinion, Menon uses the gold color tinge at the party to express Crimson Dawn’s wealthy and powerful emmince in the criminal underworld. The drawing of Qi’ra presenting the carbonite slab of Han Solo also is another highlight of the art. It greatly resembles Qi’ra from the movies which goes hand in hand with the Emilia Clarke dialogue that I mentioned earlier. And my favorite splash pages are of Boba Fett scouting the auction and Darth Vader making his presence felt much to Qi’ra’s delight.
This issue has me wanting to read more and it is not just because I am a “Star Wars” fan. Charles Soule has become one of my favorite writers who I feel knows “Star Wars.” If I did not write that already, I will write it again: Charles Soule knows Star Wars. This issue has me wanting to know more about what Qi’ra has been up to since departing from Han. Once more, the comic teases me (in a good way of course) by making me wonder what is going on with Qi’ra and why does she want Han to save her? With three more issues to go, and like I said before, the revelation is probably going to be an explosive one.
4.5 Stars out of 5
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Luke Ross
Colorist: Neeraj Menon
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Synopsis: The biggest comic event of the Star Wars galaxy continues! Notorious bounty hunter Boba Fett has tracked his missing prize — heroic smuggler Han Solo, frozen in carbonite — to the remote, frozen world of Jekara. But representatives from many of the galaxy’s most powerful factions have gathered, and they all want the same thing — Solo. Things go from bad to worse, as Boba Fett realizes that he himself has become almost as valuable to the galaxy’s hunters as Han Solo, and he must turn to the least trustworthy person in the galaxy for help…Doctor Aphra…