Everything has been building to this moment across multiple comic series. Darth Vader has arrived aboard the Vermillion and has staked his claim on Han Solo, despite Jabba the Hutt’s winning bid from Qi’ra’s auction. What ensues is nothing short of brilliant storytelling from Charles Soule.
Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters (Issue #3)
Enter Qi’ra, who is willing to hand over Han Solo to Darth Vader, so long as the Empire provides her with the one million credits owed to the Crimson Dawn. When Vader refuses to pay up, Q’ira draws her weapons, and the two duel in a delightful show of power. My only problem with this entire sequence is that I wish we could have seen it play out in live-action. There is so much to work with here and to consider — from Qi’ra taunting Vader about her master’s knowledge about him and Obi-Wan to her absolutely unwavering fearlessness in the face of Darth Vader. While he does best her, her show of resilience was thrilling to see.
In the wings, Boba Fett has been intercepted by Leia, Lando, and Chewbacca who are trying to rescue Han from the clutches of Darth Vader and his would-be buyers. This, of course, goes disastrously. Neither party can use their blaster, otherwise, they would be discovered. Leia attempts to lure Boba Fett into retrieving Han Solo for her, leveraging the rebellion’s meager cash pool, but the bounty hunter is determined to follow through with his job for Jabba the Hutt.
Chewbacca decides to engage with Boba Fett in a little hand-to-hand combat, while Leia and Lando consider the best course of action. Boba Fett only narrowly gains the upper hand by using a little fire to get out of Chewie’s death grip. If you have ever wondered what those braids on Fett’s armor are, I am here to inform you that they are Wookie hair.
In the final moments of the issue, Darth Vader senses that Luke Skywalker is nearby (coming to assist Leia and co. with the rescue) and Vader issues an ominous ultimatum to the younger Skywalker. Deliver himself to Darth Vader or Darth Vader will cut Han Solo in half.
Charles Soule has done a brilliant job interweaving this story into the fabric of what we know from The Empire Strikes Back. I was initially uncertain about this particular comic run because it felt like we knew everything we needed to know about this particular time point, but it has turned into a very compelling story with more surprises than expected.
My lingering question after each issue of War of the Bounty Hunters is — will this factor into the upcoming Book of Boba Fett series?