If you thought that Darth Vader #12, billed as a War of the Bounty Hunters tie-in, was tenuously connected to the crossover (at best), you haven’t seen anything until you’ve read Doctor Aphra #10.

It doesn’t help that once again, we’re dropped into the middle of an unrelated storyline – but also, as the majority of the characters in Doctor Aphra are original creations and therefore unfamiliar to readers who haven’t already been keeping up with the series – the events are somewhat confusing and difficult to get into. At least with Vader, the events of the prior story also included flashbacks to very familiar situations and we already know most of the principal players anyway.

I was lost even during the opening page’s character recap, which – though slightly helpful – didn’t even properly cover all of the characters and subplots in the issue. The issue covers what happens when the eponymous archaeologist is involved in a hostage situation that goes south, leading her towards the events of the current crossover.

There’s nothing wrong with the writing or the art, which has a nicely cartoony style that’s refreshingly different from the usual stylised photorealism that’s aimed for with the Star Wars line. It’s just difficult to care about anything that’s going on when, frankly, you have no idea what stakes are truly involved or who any of the characters actually are.

Another disappointment for the opening salvo of the War of the Bounty Hunters then, putting it way under par in terms of hits at this stage. With the main event kicking off next week in War of the Bounty Hunters #1, hopefully we can get back to the compelling storyline of the opening two Prelude chapters. Right now, each of the other tie-in issues have felt like very cynical cash-ins that the respective creative teams have been forced to shoehorn into their ongoing stories, no doubt at detriment to both the readers who have been keeping up with each series, as well as those jumping in and hoping to read the next part of War of the Bounty Hunters. Though this sort of linewide crossover isn’t uncommon in the world of comics, it’s a huge disappointment to see it come to the Star Wars titles in such a lacklustre way.

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