When it was announced earlier this month that Temuera Morrison was coming to The Mandalorian, it got me wondering what Boba Fett has been up to in the new Canon. Luckily, Marvel’s ongoing Star Wars Bounty Hunters series had the prolific bounty hunter involved. So, I dove headfirst into the first two issues to see what everybody’s favorite Sarlaac snack was getting into. While Fett doesn’t get quite as much focus as the cover might imply, the rest of the bounty hunters do enough blasting and brawling to make up for it.
The comic begins with a flashback to a multi bounty hunter mission with a few iconic faces, well one lizard face and a mask, but you get it. Boba gets a big moment when he wipes out a squad of people on Corellia, alongside Beilert Valance who is revealed to be some sort of terminator after half his face gets blasted off. I didn’t know much (read: anything) about the character before this comic so the reveal absolutely worked for me. Valance’s half cybernetic face is striking and works despite his very unfortunate X Men outfit. The mission goes wrong when Valance’s mentor, Nakano Lash, shoots the client for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, and a series of hurt feelings and double crosses apparently ensue. We jump forward to the present (sometime shortly after the events of Empire Strikes Back) with Valance and his droid buddy tracking a bounty on Batuu. He is still scarred by the betrayal of his mentor and that whole thing where half his face is missing. After claiming the bounty, Valance’s droid says there’s a contract he may be interested in his former mentor.
So far, the comic is about what you’d expect. Bad dudes with bad attitudes just lighting people up across the galaxy. Bossk is being a big Lizard and Boba is decidedly too cool for school. Then we are introduced to T’onga, who is out for revenge after her brother was killed by Nakano Lash. It’s a cool western style set up with the character taking off leaving her teary-eyed lover behind because she can’t let go of an old grudge. She has more pathos and is decidedly less freaky looking than the rest of the immense cast, so she feels like the best in for the reader. The bounty makes the rounds and everybody from Bossk to Boba Fett decide they want to be the one to bring in Nakano Lash. Boba Fett is so into the idea that he leaves a frozen Han Solo in his trunk while he goes to hunt down his old grudge for free.
The set-up is appropriately hard boiled, but a little scatter brained, with a ton of information delivered in too few pages. It also has some strange aesthetic choices, like Valance being able to shoot a laser from his hand and a snake with hair and a gas mask. It’s not completely terrible, but it’s all a little too edgy 90’s comic for my taste. Lots of guns and bandoliers. But by the second issue the comic eases up a bit, allowing the characters to breath. We see that Nakano Lash had a soft spot for underdogs and that Valance is tortured by his overly cybernetic existence. Valance is pursuing Lash, still haunted by not knowing why his mentor would make a decision that put him directly in harm’s way. His first lead ends in a bar filled with dead bodies, because he is hot on the heels of Boba Fett who is taking a “shoot first ask questions later” approach to his search. We catch up with Bossk who has taken his hunt to my new favorite Star Wars planet, the graveyard of Galmerah. Imagine a dark soul’s level in space and you will start to have a clear picture of what Galmerah looks like. Endless rows of headstones and large floating burial monoliths with hooded monks wandering around begging for money. It’s a great design and one I look forward to revisiting in the next issue.
Meanwhile, T’onga is proving her worth to Lord Khamdek, the father of the client killed in the first issue, by wiping out his guards. Seems like a weird way to ask for a job to me, but it works! Khamdek is impressed and gives her a moment of his time. T’onga says if she can access all the information Khamdek has on Lash, she’ll hunt her down for free. You know, I don’t really condone doing free labor, but, if these people really love their job this much, who am I to stop them from enjoying themselves? T’onga promises that she is the best person for the job and Khamdek agrees. Back on Galmerah, Nakano Lash has left coordinates hidden in her parents’ grave for Valance to find. Bossk attacks hoping to steal the coordinates for himself, but we’ll have to wait until next week to see how that pans out.
Overall, the run has gotten off to a bit of a rocky start. There’s a lot of unnecessary information and some design choices that don’t really feel like Star Wars. I think the comic’s biggest flaw is it’s pacing, which is a tough thing to get down in issues broken up this way. It feels like a throwback to some of the worst aspects of nineties comics, big gun driven action with more focus on the cool factor than storytelling or artwork. The second issue brings things into focus a lot more and establishes some drive for the two characters we are meant to be invested in, Valance and T’onga. Any of my aesthetic qualms fly out the window with how much I love the graveyard planet so I’m definitely keen to see what happens in this story next. But if the story takes its time, I think it could go somewhere really worthwhile. I’m looking forward to the next issue and I think that’s about as shining of an endorsement as any continual comic run could get.