Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters Alpha #1 (July 2021)

Precious Cargo

Writer: Charles Soule, Art: Steve McNiven, Colours: Laura Martin

THE STAR WARS COMIC EVENT YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR! The notorious bounty hunter BOBA FETT has finally landed his greatest prize – HAN SOLO, frozen in carbonite for easy transport. Fett will bring the smuggler to TATOOINE to collect the massive bounty placed on Solo’s head by the fearsome crime lord JABBA THE HUTT. Sounds easy. What could go wrong?

Marvel.com official solicitation

Six years after Marvel started publishing Star Wars comics again they attempt their first full on crossover event.  Up until now there has been a couple of minor crossovers and all the different books have been connected but with ‘War Of The Bounty Hunters’ the plan is to tell one story across thirty four issues spanning all the main Star Wars monthly titles and various one-shots.

This issue is the set-up for the whole thing and the story is a simple one and something a lot of Star Wars have probably thought about over the years – how did Boba Fett deliver a frozen Han Solo to Jabba when all the bounty hunters were chasing the prize? Writer Charles Soule is taking the lead on this event, picking up the story right after the end of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, and straight away starts putting road bumps in Fett’s path.

The carbonite encasing Solo is malfunctioning and starting to melt. Unless Fett can fix it his bounty will die and Jabba is not paying out unless he receives Solo alive. Boba stops off at Nar Shaddaa, the smuggler’s moon, to visit a Besalisk named Doc Ragon to get the problem fixed. Unfortunately for Boba he is low on funds so Doc has an idea for another way he can pay. There is a pit fighter named Wyrem Lictor, who killed one of Doc’s fighters and cost him a lot of credis, that he wants killed and if Fett takes care of it the costs will be covered. Doc even disguises Boba’s Mandalorian armour with an all black temporary paint job so he won’t be recognised. Fett needs to do is sign up at the fight arena to get a shot at her, the only problem being that she is the champion and he will have to fight his way to the top. Boba enters the pit under the name ‘Jango’ and the carnage begins. He is, of course, victorious but when he returns to Doc’s he finds him dead and Solo missing. And so begins the ‘War Of The Bounty Hunters’.

Soule says that this is something he has wanted to do since he started writing Star Wars but this feels very close to ‘The Mandalorian’. The hero is on a mission, needs something from someone he encounters and accepts a side mission. This is the template for most of the episodes of the TV show. It works there and there is no problem with it here but having this issue as a stand alone one-shot seems unnecessary and it could easily have been the first chapter of the ‘War Of The Bounty Hunters’ main book. This is purely a Fett story and there are no cameos by characters from other books and no set-up for a wider narrative.

The book is lifted by the now Marvel veteran Steve McNiven’s art, an artist that doesn’t rely on using photo reference. He seems to be having fun adding just about every type of Star Wars alien to the backgrounds while adding some new designs of his own. Wyrem Lictor is a suitably grotesque spider woman who meets a spectacularly messy end. In fact, McNiven seems inspired by all the violence that Fett inflicts.

Not a failure but not a groundbreaking start that can be summed up with ‘What if… Boba Fett lost Han Solo’.

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