Star Wars (2020-) #13

Following last week’s opening chapter to Marvel’s huge crossover event (in War of the Bounty Hunters: Alpha),the second part arrives – in Marvel’s ongoing Star Wars series. Though clearly taking place in the midst of an ongoing story – the opening text making reference to characters not related to the War of the Bounty Hunters saga – there’s no need to have read any of the preceding issues, bar the crossover’s Alpha issue.

Whereas Alpha very much focused on Boba Fett’s struggle to keep his frozen cargo alive and in his possession, Star Wars #13 instead shines a spotlight on the hunt for Han Solo (remember, this is set in the unspecified amount of time between movies V and VI, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi respectively) from Luke Skywalker’s perspective. With Chewie making it known to his Wookiee contacts across the galaxy that he’s looking for Boba Fett, it doesn’t take long for one of his friends to come through with a lead. Soon, Luke, Chewie, Threepio and R2 are heading for the lawless Outer Rim planet of Nar Shadaa – but they’re not the only ones looking for the infamous bounty hunter.

Having been out of the loop with Star Wars comics for a while, it’s been great to be lured back in by War of the Bounty Hunters. Though I do still feel as if it may turn out to be an ultimately disappointing story – after all, the outcome is already set in stone (or perhaps carbonite) for one thing, but also it’s an awfully huge crossover for what seems to be, currently at least, a very straightforward tale – the first two parts have really got everything off to a strong start, with Charles Soule’s excellent writing and the art – here by Ramon Rosanas – completely nailing the Star Wars vibe and likenesses, just as Steve McNiven’s did in the first part of the new story. Similarly to McNiven, there’s a real clarity to the storytelling and fight choreography too, with brilliant details – Luke’s part-Empire, part-Jedi costume choice is inspired, giving a clear look at how his choice of garb evolves between the two films.

Star Wars (2020-) #13

Still marked as a ‘Prelude’ to the main event, this chapter nonetheless feels, at this point at least, as an essential part of the story – though I struggle to believe that no one had heard of Jango Fett at this point in time, it does fit in with the intergalactic amnesia that seems to have taken hold across the Star Wars universe in-between episodes III and IV (seriously, it still rankles me that Jedi seemed to become almost like urban legends in the short amount of time between the prequels and the original trilogy).

The checklist at the back of the comic is extremely helpful and even gives us a synopsis for the next few issues – the sheer number of parts needed to keep up with the entirety of the story just looks exhausting to me, this early on in proceedings. It’s entirely in character for Marvel and crossovers in general for the story to be so sprawling, however, so this probably shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s the kind of thing that I would have been hugely excited by as a kid, but as an adult struggling to find time to keep up with the variety of media I’m interested in, it does just make me a bit tired!

That said, I’m definitely on board with War of the Bounty Hunters and I’ve really enjoyed the two different angles to the Han Solo ‘situation’ so far. I do still have the same concerns about the concept that I had before – similar issues befell the multimedia project Shadows of the Empire in the late 90s, which attempted to fill in the gaps between Episodes V and VI, introducing a boring Han Solo substitute (Dash Rendar) and an inconsequential story that existed only to move everyone into place for the beginning of Return of the Jedi, with little in the way of risk for anyone – after all, we know exactly where everyone needs to be by the climax of the story. Hopefully, with the addition of a wide range of bickering bounty hunters – some of which made incredibly brief appearances in Empire Strikes Back (which nonetheless made lasting impressions on generations of Star Wars fans) – we’ll at least see some familiar faces come to blows. After all, though we know the fates of the main players involved, we certainly don’t know what became of characters like Bossk, 4-LOM and Zuckuss. Hopefully, we’ll find out as War of the Bounty Hunters continues to build on its impressive start.

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