Arriving at the Crimson Dawn auction to take on his father, Luke Skywalker is unable to go through with confronting Vader face-to-face and instead lures him away to save his friends. In the meantime, Vader’s assistant Ochi has his hands full dealing with Bokku the Hutt’s fury – and a servant of the Emperor whose plans to deal with Vader being so easily distracted take an unforeseen turn…

Yep, we’re back at that damn Crimson Dawn auction again, just as we finally left it behind in the main series. It really feels as if we’ve now seen this one event from every possible angle, featuring every possible minor player in the story, in far more detail than was ever necessary. The War of the Bounty Hunters has been less of a War and more a generally polite social gathering of the Bounty Hunters for the most part. It’s been extremely underwhelming and has struggled to justify its existence as a mega crossover that’s taken over Marvel’s entire Star Wars line for the last several months. It does seem as if this issue has been the victim of a bit of reshuffling to its publication date, as earlier versions of the reading order checklist put it further back in the timeline than it now appears; that probably hasn’t helped the general feeling of it being a bit redundant now that things have progressed in the main story.

The issue starts and ends strongly with the threats on Luke from Vader; the excellent art by Raffaele Ienco showcasing some inventive use of closeups being torn asunder by the Dark Lord of the Sith’s red lightsaber. The psychological aspects of the story work best in general, with the auction’s action now focusing on fights and overly expositional conversations between uninteresting, minor characters. There’s still the problem of the lack of tension with the main characters too – readers know they survive and it’s common knowledge where they end up by the beginning of Return of the Jedi, so it’s clear that no harm will come to them.

As the crossover limps towards its final set of issues, it’s hard not to feel a sense of disappointment and wasted opportunity. Though it’s given readers some great moments and made some hilariously obscure characters canon – as well as bringing back Qi’ra and Crimson Dawn – overall War of the Bounty Hunters has been an incredibly unfulfilling, small scale and strangely uneventful crossover.

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