This week, we’re celebrating a belated Star Wars Day with a look at the latest event storyline set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, War of the Bounty Hunters! You thought Boba Fett just went straight to Jabba’s palace with a carbonite-frozen Han Solo after the end of The Empire Strikes Back? Not so, true believer! But was the beginning of Boba’s journey eventful or tedious?
We’ve got a review of Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha #1, plus a Rapid Rundown of other new releases from the House of Ideas, all ahead in this week’s installment of The Marvel Rundown!
Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha #1
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Steve McNiven
Color Artist: Laura Martin
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover Artists: Steve McNiven & Laura Martin
“Nothing’s ever simple.” That three-word sentence from Boba Fett a few pages into Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha #1 (even the title’s not simple) is basically the guiding principle for Marvel’s line of Star Wars comics. The current run of series, set between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, have expanded on the stories of both films and the others in the series, filling in the cracks for characters from Luke and Vader to Leia and Lando in both somewhat obvious and entirely unexpected ways. Now it’s time to check in on Han Solo, still freshly frozen in carbonite, and his bounty hunter captor as they make their way from Bespin to Tatooine.
Current Star Wars series writer Charles Soule is joined by artists Steve McNiven and Laura Martin and letterer Travis Lanham for this one-shot kick off for War of the Bounty Hunters. The team introduces a number of obstacles for Boba Fett and his cargo, from problems as mundane as technical issues with the carbonite matrix to the titular other bounty hunters looking to steal and deliver Jabba his prize and collect the reward.
The story of the issue feels interestingly – and welcomely – reminiscent of another recent addition to the Star Wars canon, The Mandolorian, a series that often finds its protagonist taking on side missions and facing off against odd threats in service of his larger goals. The similarity makes sense given the episodic nature of both TV and comics, and the fact that the star of this book is another character in beskar armor certainly doesn’t hurt. The task that Boba Fett takes on in this issue is fairly straight-forward in its concept and his execution of it, and it’s always entertaining to see someone who’s very competent at what they do just steamroll everyone in their path. It helps make a one-shot that could have been nothing but set-up for what’s to come a satisfying read, even as we as readers know that the story of this event is far from over.
McNiven and Martin’s visuals on this book are superb. The team captures the rough edges, both figurative and literal, of Boba Fett and his world beautifully. There’s not a smooth, clean surface to be found anywhere in this book, and the lived-in look of the universe can’t help but pull readers into it. The team also gets to illustrate some spectacular action, which they and Soule imbue with a mountain of pathos by the inclusion of a single, silent image, instantly-recognizable to those familiar with Boba Fett’s history. The issue still works without that knowledge, but having it in mind while reading the story is an extra-rewarding experience.
Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha #1 is the beginning of a six-month-long storyline that will encompass all of Marvel’s Star Wars titles, and as the kick-off of such a massive event it’d better be damn compelling. Thankfully the creative team on this book has a pretty good idea of what they’re doing, and this issue accomplishes the task of both setting up the larger storyline and delivering a satisfying beginning, middle, and endpoint in its own right. If the rest of the event is as enjoyable as this was, it should be a fun few months.
Final Verdict: Buy.
Amazing Spider-Man #65
- The latest arc of this series is drawing to a close and I couldn’t really tell you what the point of this whole enterprise is anymore. Nick Spencer is drawing out the smallest breadcrumbs he’s been leaving into these multi-issue “epics,” and while I can admire trying to build out a fully-fleshed story where everything matters, it ultimately leads to these forgettable and frankly drawn-out and boring stories that act as continuity exercises rather than a story with a set beginning, middle, and end. As has been the case for the past twenty or so issues, Kingpin has a mysterious plan, Kindred’s locked up, Spider-Man has roommates troubles, and so on and so on. Nothing changes anymore despite what the solicits keep promising, but at least Federico Vicentini’s artwork looks stunning. —HW
Heroes Reborn #1
- A world without the Avengers in it must be a terrible place, right? Maybe if you’re a Marvel fan, but if you prefer their Distinguished Competition you’ll probably feel right at home. Jason Aaron, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Matthew Wilson, and Cory Petit present a Flashpoint version of the Marvel Universe that – certainly by design – feels like a Justice League comic. It certainly helps that McGuinness has experience with the JLA, so working with pastiches of those characters in the Squadron Supreme of America works perfectly for what the story is attempting to accomplish. Aaron slightly overloads the issue with narration that doesn’t entirely feel necessary, but that gripe aside this was a pretty fun kick-off for this story (and it really makes me want to read a Jason Aaron-written JLA story). —JG
Strange Academy #10
- Much like previous books New Mutants or Avengers Academy, Strange Academy is a title about young mystics learning the art of magic – think Marvel’s mashup of Harry Potter and Riverdale (or for the older crowd, Beverly Hills 90210.) I’m not a big fan of kid superheroes with a few exceptions, especially when they don’t grow up and are stuck at a set age, but I dig this title a lot. This issue takes our young magic users off the grounds of the Academy for a road trip to Asgard. You can tell that writer Skottie Young and artist Humberto Ramos are having a blast with this book. The series, in general, is filled with the right amount of teen angst mixed with ominous prophecies and coupled with bold, beautifully exaggerated art, and this issue is fun and playful while still being able to carry a couple of dark storylines. —GC3
Next week, Marvel’s X-line expands yet again with the debut of X-Corp!