War of the Bounty Hunters continues – and despite the fact that there’s at least one new chapter every week, that’s also had the effect of dragging out what is ultimately a straightforward story that should feel pretty fast-paced and linear; after all, with the story taking place in the relatively short space of time between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, we already know where all of the major players are going to end up.

It’s been a fear of mine since reading the ‘Alpha’ Prelude issue and noting the intimidating number of chapters that the story would take place across. Unfortunately, those fears have been well-founded so far, with only a handful of issues feeling essential to the crossover as a whole and several events simply repeated from slightly different viewpoints, again slowing down the tale, as well as giving the feeling of repetition and deja vu.

This issue of the core Star Wars series, which follows the exploits of the original trilogy’s main characters, also struggles to justify itself as part of the crossover – but it’s saving grace is that it’s just a good, old-fashioned Star Wars adventure that mostly stands alone.

Luke has joined Starlight Squadron alongside fellow hero of the Battle of Yavin, Wedge Antilles. Embarking on a rescue mission, they discover a Rebel outpost under attack by a significant Imperial force. Outnumbered and outgunned but determined to save the Rebels – whose numbers across the galaxy are dwindling – they hit upon a daring plan to outmanoeuvre the powerful Imperials, which has echoes of a very familiar mission to rid the galaxy of a planet-destroying superweapon…

The art and writing art top-notch, giving us a well drawn, high-stakes, tension-filled mission that doesn’t necessarily play out how you’d expect, using the reader’s familiarity with the Battle of Yavin to play with those expectations. It’s only in a brief mention of Han Solo at the opening of the issue and the final few pages that this ties into War of the Bounty Hunters at all, but as a Star Wars tale in its own right, it’s difficult to find any fault in the execution here. It’s a really enjoyable issue and is one that I’d recommend for fans of the franchise, even if they haven’t been keeping up with the crossover in general so far.

There’s still a mind-blowing eighteen issues of the crossover left – yet the main plot hasn’t really moved very far since Boba Fett lost possession of Captain Solo way back in the aforementioned Alpha issue. It’d be great to see the pace pick up and the stakes raised, but given that we already know where we’re going to be at the end of the story, I’m not holding out much hope that we’re going to see anything shocking or revelatory occur at this point – but I genuinely hope to be proven wrong about that.

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