“The War of the Bounty Hunters” is at its midway point this week, with two issues out in the first-ever Marvel Star Wars event! Star Wars #16 carries forward events that start in Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #3, so be sure to read the latter issue first. This issue is heavily focused on Luke Skywalker, who is making his way to Jekara to help his friends save Han Solo. Set after Empire Strikes Back, Han is stuck in carbonite and is being auctioned off to the highest bidder, but Darth Vader has stepped in to stop the sale and capture Solo back.
This is an interesting issue as Charles Soule probes the fear Luke has as he can’t shake the memory of losing to Darth Vader in Cloud City. The issue opens with Luke replaying the events as he fought Darth Vader off and even when his imagination lets him gain an upper hand, he loses. He knows he’s not yet a Jedi, and Darth Vader knows it, which haunts him.
As Luke is stuck in his own head, Darth Vader aims to capture back Han Solo on Jekara but is met face to face with Lady Qi’ra. Yes, Han Solo’s old flame from Solo: A Star Wars Story is now the leader of Crimson Dawn. Again, be sure to read Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #3 first as we learn in that issue how Darth Vader came to be fighting Qi’ra here.
Soule does a good job establishing how everything falls on Luke getting to Jekara to help Leia, Chewie, and Lando save Han Solo. Problem is, there’s a Star Destroyer in Luke’s way and some space fights to get through first. Ramon Rosanas draws the various spaceships and dogfights quite well. The opening fight choreography is easy to follow too, and likenesses are quite close to the actors in the films. With moody tones thanks to colors by Rachelle Rosenberg, the book matches the look of Luke’s general thoughts and feelings.
Soule and Rosanas smartly show us some of Luke’s most haunted thoughts, which helps set up the great fear he’s under. He wants to help his friends and save Han Solo, but he’s filled with so much doubt can you blame him for being nervous?
Much of the plotting of this issue is focused on slowing Luke down, which can feel like filler to pad out the event. Did we need this many chapters when the plot has only moved as far as getting the characters into one location? Probably not, but the fear Luke is under does help justify this issue’s events.
Star Wars #16 helps us understand the great fear Luke is under after losing his hand and his pride in The Empire Strikes Back. The event as a whole doesn’t have a fast enough pace, but for this issue you get inside his head and can relate to our favorite Jedi in the galaxy.
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