Star Wars: Darth Vader #15 by Greg Pak

Star Wars: Darth Vader #15 (Star Wars: Darth Vader (2020-))Star Wars: Darth Vader #15 (Star Wars: Darth Vader by Greg Pak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is cracking stuff!

Both the art and the writing are top notch. Vader’s presence is felt throughout the comic, despite him not being physically present for much of it. Instead a plot is woven which, on the surface, seems to be about finding out who Bokku the Hutt is working with. However, this story isn’t really about testing Bokku’s loyalties, it’s about testing the loyalties of Ochi of Bestoon. After all, he was originally hired to kill Vader, so it’s understandable that Vader would want to test him to find out if he can really trust him…or, at least, rely on him to be loyal.

As I said, the writing is great, as it has been throughout Pak’s run, and Ienco doesn’t fail to deliver artistically either. The cover art by Aaron Kuder also feels suitable iconic.

This book has been consistently excellent and this issue is no exception.

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Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #13 by Alyssa Wong

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #13 (Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020-))Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #13 (Star Wars: Doctor Aphra by Alyssa Wong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, this was a definite improvement, as, Aphra being Aphra, she decides that rather than simply run from Darth Vader, who will surely kill her if he sees her again, she decides to try and use the distraction of his presence to rob Crimson Dawn blind…but instead gets herself and Sanna Staros captures, because of course she does.

It feels like Wong is finally getting a handle on the character, as the dialogue feels snappy and dynamic in a way that it hasn’t for a while. Aphra comics succeed or fail on the quality of the dialogue, and that’s something that the writers who’ve handled her previously really excel at.

The art, by Minkyu Jung, is solid but still not quite up to the standard of the rest of the line, sadly, although it’s definitely improving. Also, the cover, by Sara Pichelli, is definitely worth the price of admission.

All in all, this is a fine return to form for Doctor Aphra.

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Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters #3 by Charles Soule

Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters (2021) #3 (of 5)Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters (2021) #3 by Charles Soule
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The War of the Bounty Hunters rumbles on!

So, Darth Vader hired Boba Fett to track down Han Solo, which he did, Vader then presumably paid Fett, had Han encased in carbonite and then let Fett take Han to Jabba. On the way to Jabba’s palace, Solo was stolen from Fett by Crimson Dawn, resulting in Jabba putting out a bounty on Fett. Jabba then bids a million credits at the auction Crimson Dawn hold for Solo’s carbonite encased body, but Vader then insists that they give Han to him, because he wants to use Han to lure Luke to him. Which was the plan in the first place. But that plan didn’t, uh, go according to plan, which is why Vader needs Han back so that he can do it again. Confused? Just don’t try to think about it too much…

There’s also a fight between Vader and Qi’ra, which would be ridiculous if she wasn’t a master of Teräs Käsi, the Star Wars universe equivalent of Kung Fu. I mean, it’s still ridiculous…

This issue is definitely the weakest in this series so far. While it’s felt like the tie-ins have been, to extent, treading water while waiting for the main book to get to the auction, it now feels like the main boo is treading water for…some reason?

Hopefully the back half of this event will actually do something interesting with Qi’ra, but this just left me wondering why Chewbacca didn’t say, “Hey, Leia, you’re gonna find this funny, but the woman auctioning off Han’s carbonite encased form is his ex…the woman he was so obsessed with he left Corellia, joined the Empire, then went AWOL, all in a bid to find her again, and then when he finally found her she was working for Crimson Dawn and totally double crossed him. But I’m sure he’s told you all about her… Anyway, how wild is it that a martial art invented for a rubbish Playstation 2 game is now canon?”

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Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters – 4-Lom & Zuckuss #1 by Daniel José Older

Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters - 4-Lom & Zuckuss #1 (of 1)Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters – 4-Lom & Zuckuss #1 by Daniel José Older
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was, indeed, correct in my assumption that the events of this one-shot take place before the events of Bounty Hunters #15, despite what the official reading order for this event says. Not that this spoils the book in any way, and the fact that 4-LOM and Zuckuss end up fighting is spoiled by the cover art.

Of course, what makes this interesting is why they end up fighting. And in explaining that Older also takes time to establish the closeness of their relationship, and the 4-Lom is Zuckuss’s only friend. Which is kinda’ sad. Older very much establishes Zuckuss as something of a tragic figure here, someone who deserves our pity. 4-LOM is given little to no characterisation, and in the “present day” part of the book is reduced to a mindless drone, programmed to kill Zuckuss in revenge for a hit they pulled off together, in which it turns out they killed the wrong person.

Ultimately this is a lot of fun. Well written and well drawn, and while it does nothing to further the plot of the War of the Bounty Hunters, it’s well worth a read.

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Star Wars: Bounty Hunters (2020-) #15 by Ethan Sacks

Star Wars: Bounty Hunters (2020-) #15Star Wars: Bounty Hunters (2020-) #15 by Ethan Sacks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an improvement, even if the cringe inducingly badly named Deathstick is still here, with her ridiculous font. Do vowels sound different if they have dots under them? I don’t think so…

I mean, this is still a confusing mess, made even more confusing given that the events reading order places this before the 4-Lom & Zuckuss one shot, the events of which it clearly references. There’s the usual cast of indistinct, unmemorable characters, all doing something or other…I’ve honestly found it impossible to keep track of who is who or what they’re all doing. And, of course, Dengar and Valance continue their weird buddy cop routine.

Oh, and Tasu Leech turns up, the future leader of Kanji Club, and his depiction once again bears little resemblance to the actor who played him. I know he’s a lot younger here, as these events take place between episodes five and six, and we only saw him in live action in episode seven…but I don’t think he’s likely to have changed race in that time.

A rather welcome appearance, however, is The Punishing One, Dengar’s ship from Legends, which makes its first canon appearance here (although I believe it was mentioned in the short story collection From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back.

The art on this book is still superficially flashy while being difficult to read. I don’t know if the issue is Villanelli’s pencils or Prianto’s colours, but Prianto’s dark palette is certainly not helping things here.

For all that, this comic isn’t a bad comic, and I enjoyed seeing Zuckuss out of his mask, and the whole “putting a team together” part of this comic was fun (don’t ask me the name of the character that’s putting a team together or why they’re putting a team together though). This issue is an improvement over the last and a definite step in the right direction for this title. That said, past experience doesn’t give me much hope that this is a trend that will continue with the next.

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War of the Bounty Hunters – Jabba the Hutt 1 by Justina Ireland

War of the Bounty Hunters – Jabba the Hutt 1War of the Bounty Hunters – Jabba the Hutt 1 by Justina Ireland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Deva Lompop, apart from having a silly name, is a bounty hunter from the High Republic series of novels and comics…apparently…although she hasn’t actually appeared in any of them yet. So, isn’t she a character from War Of The Bounty Hunters who’s going to show up in the High Republic? Not that it matters…

Still, she’s a green lizard woman with feathers for hair who’s so badass she managed to get one over on Boba Fett. I am old and cynical and so this made my eyes role a little bit, but I have to confess she looks pretty cool. Well, she looks pretty cool in half of this book. You see, this book takes place in two different eras, the “present day” of the War Of The Bounty Hunters, and “some time ago”…when she’s recruited by Jabba to do a job for him. These two eras are handled by two different artists. Ibraim Roberson handles the “present day” section, and his art is truly gorgeous. His linework has a light touch with a lot of fine detail, but not so much that the panels become crowded, and the colourist works with him incredibly well to produce some absolutely stunning pages. The flashback part of the book is handled by Luca Pizzari and his art is…not as good. It’s not bad, it does the job, it’s perfectly fine…but we’ve come to expect more from Marvel’s Star wars line, and it suffers in comparison with Roberson’s work.

The story is also fine, it introduces the new character effectively, but I’m always sceptical of new characters in Star Wars comics when we already have such a huge wealth of characters in the Star Wars universe. Doctor Aphra is the rare exception that proves the rule that new characters created for Star Wars comics rarely work well. Unless they’re seven foot tall green rabbits, I guess…

So, in the summary, this comic is good, but it didn’t blow me away, and it’s not essential reading if you’re following the War Of The Bounty Hunters story. But I will be looking forward to Deva Lompop showing up in the High Republic.

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Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters #2 (of 5) by Charles Soule

Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters #2 (of 5) (Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters: (2021-))Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters #2 (of 5) (Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters: by Charles Soule
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So now we find out who that mysterious man in Doctor Aphra #12 was. The one who sounded just like a clone trooper. Yeah, I’m an idiot. It was Boba Fett. Which should have been obvious, after all…he was on the cover…

Ahem.

Anyway, that ties into my only real complaint about this issue, which was on the whole excellent. Several pages were almost identical to several pages of Doctor Aphra #12. I say “almost” because the art, by Luke Ross, was far better. I’ve never been a big fan of Ross’s artwork, seeing him as a solid, capable artist, but nothing really special, but he really stands out here and this is some of the best work I’ve seen from him. Neeraj Menon’s colours really complement Ross’s line work too. This is a good-looking book.

As for the writing, it’s Charles Soule, and if you’ve been reading Star Wars novels or comics regularly, you’ll know we’re in good hands with Soule. He manages to weave all the disparate plotlines from across this sprawling crossover into a single, coherent issue. Everything finally converges here.

And with a certain Dark Lord of the Sith making an appearance at the end, you can be sure things are about to kick off.

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Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters #1 (of 5) by Charles Soule

Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters #1 (of 5) (Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters: (2021-))Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters #1 (of 5) (Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters: by Charles Soule
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s always challenging to review a comic that leans so heavily on a last page reveal that it spends the entire issue building to. Suffice it to say that you will figure it out before you reach the final page, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome or welcome.

But, yeah, Boba Fett discovers Jabba has placed an bounty on his head after having had the carbonite encased Han Solo stolen from him, and he’s on a mission to find out why, who stole Han and to both get him back and murder whoever was responsible.

I’m not the greatest fan of Luke Ross’s artwork, but it’s genuinely great here. This is a much more comic-booky looking comic than we’ve been used to in Marvel’s Star Wars run, but the combination of some really great backgrounds and a much lighter colouring palette than we’re used to seeing in these books makes for a fine looking comic.

The writing is as good as we’ve come to expect from Charles Soule. He’s crafting a complex and winding tale that draws in pretty much every faction in the galaxy and I doubt that this issue’s last page reveal will be the only surprise in this mammoth crossover event.

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