Review by C.J. Bunce
We’re probably far from seeing a story featuring the bounty hunter Valance as good as in the pages of the original Marvel Comics series in 1978, but the first issue of the latest Star Wars comic book series is promising. Valance, borg Hall of Famer and the first character in science fiction specifically referred to as a “borg,” shares the spotlight with a few other familiar faces in Star Wars: Bounty Hunters, now available in comic book stores. When Star Wars writers and artists pull from the original trilogy and do it right, it can be quite fun for fans of the franchise. And much seems to involve deconstructing every detail of George Lucas’s original visions. For this series, that means asking the question: Why would you have so many bounty hunters on the bridge of Darth Vader’s star destroyer? The answer became clear in last year’s Disney+ series The Mandalorian: it’s because sometimes that’s how the jobs work–if you can afford it. And that’s the starting point of Star Wars: Bounty Hunters.
In the not too distant past we meet Valance working with Boba Fett the Mandalorian and the lizard-like Trandoshan called Bossk, two of the fellows we first met on Vader’s ship, working a job with a few other hunters. Only the job goes sideways due to the actions of one of the hunters, Nakano Lash. So the story begins when Lash becomes the bounty, setting the other hunters after her. Taking place after the events of The Empire Strikes Back, that means Han Solo remains in carbonite in the cargo hold. And it also means Lady Proxima is still around, the character that held Han’s life in her hands, introduced in Solo: A Star Wars Story. And it also makes room for Doctor Aphra, a character from the more recent comics universe.
In fact, writer Ethan Sacks and artist Paolo Villanelli appear to have the ability to play with the entire Star Wars universe in a single series. No longer are they held back, tethered to the lead characters Luke, Leia, Han, and Darth Vader, so readers can finally dig into the other corners of the already established Star Wars galaxy. The first issue probably has more characters and action sequences than necessary, but it’s a promising beginning. Check out covers from the first four issues and a preview of the first issue below.
You can track dialogue and story references included by Sacks from every corner of the franchise–the novels, the movies, the original comics, the new comics, and the TV series, including some more weighty references from The Mandalorian. Denizens from the Mos Eisley cantina are here. Hopefully, the most we see of Han Solo is knowing he’s resting in the cargo hold. But the story is the first chance for expansion of the new details of bounty hunting we learned in The Mandalorian, and what more could fans ask for than that?
Artist Paulo Villanelli’s style is his own, but borrows something from Lee Bermejo, who is the featured artist on one of the first issue covers. But Villanelli’s best layouts are his subordinate panels, which appear to have more detail and precision. Arif Prianto’s colors and Travis Lanham’s lettering work well with the artwork. What are readers really waiting for? The integration of the bounty hunter Jaxxon, of course. We don’t know yet if he will be featured in this series.
In addition to a blank sketch cover and photo cover, look for variant covers from Bermejo, Dave Johnson, Kaare Andrews, and Michael Golden for the first issue, and more artists joining in for subsequent issue covers, including Phil Noto.
A good start to the next Star Wars series, pick up your copy of Issue #1 of Star Wars: Bounty Hunters now from Elite Comics or your local comic book store.