Beware, dear reader. Spoilers abound ahead.
Volume 1 of Ethan Sacks’ new ongoing Star Wars series from Marvel, Bounty Hunters has releases in trade paperback this week (11/24/2020) and I’m taking a look at the first story arc. Volume 1, Galaxy’s Deadliest, collects issues 1-5 of Star Wars Bounty Hunters.
Ethan Sacks’ task is to take an ensemble task of bounty hunters and find a sympathetic line through the narrative that makes the reader want to invest more into the story than a cursory glance at the action panels. This is an interesting task given that the original trilogy’s cast of bounty hunters (as seen on the deck of Vader’s Star Destroyer in Empire Strikes Back) are cold-blooded, single-minded, and silent types. Boba Fett, the most talkative of the original three films, has all of three lines across the two films he appears in I believe. Bossk, the Trandoshan, is a slithering reptile who does little more than glare, and 4-LOM and Zuckuss (reserved for volume 2 of Bounty Hunters currently underway starting with issue 6) are aloof mysteries.
Then there’s Valance. Valance is an off-beat character whose first appearance in issue 16 of the original Marvel run of Star Wars comics starting in 1977. Star Wars #16 was part of Roy Thomas and Archie Goodwin’s valiant attempts to meet Star Wars demands between films. There was little oversight and just about anything flew in the comics in those days.
Marvel have been breathing new life into this cyborg hunter from Star Wars comics’ zany, pre-Empire Strikes Back phase with a recent Legends (non-canon) issue 108 added to the original run of 107 issues, and the canon storyline Target Vader.
So, Sacks’ job was to get readers to take the brightly pulp Valance character more seriously and also flesh out a relatable story populated by silent, ruthless types.
Sacks accomplishes the task of injecting heart and conflict into this tale by introduction of a new character, Nakano Lash, a hunter we learn is Valance’s mentor.
Nakano is an orphan by circumstance, a bounty hunter by trade and necessity, and has a heart for the downtrodden at her core. This empathy is what puts her at odds with the task assigned during a normal chaperone job. Bounty hunters by code are obligated to do the job for which they were hired without injecting their own ethical leanings into the equation. Well, Nakano meets up with a situation where she cannot compartmentalize her morals. She has a crew of other hunters in tow with her when she makes this choice, including Boba Fett and Valance. Her choices set all the hunters on the job at odds with a crime syndicate and all those hunters at odds with Nakano.
Sacks writes a healthy amount of action into the narrative while keeping track of a half dozen bounty hunters and even more secondary characters on the periphery. To his credit, the cast of characters never became overwhelming or hard to keep track of. And, yes, there are healthy doses of Boba Badassery.
By the end of Volume 1, I found myself caring more about Valance than I ever have before. For this reason, I’d say mission accomplished. It’s not an easy task to support readers’ interests with what have previously been cast aside as C and D list characters.
Villanetti does a great job keeping panel lay outs as dynamic and interesting as the action inside the panels. I have two minor gripes with the art, though.
First, some of the action scenes seemed to skip steps in the sequence, leaving me unsure what the actual, intended action being displayed was supposed to be. There were a handful of instances where a panel was simply a ball of flame and I was left to imagine how the other antagonist managed to shimmy free and make that sort of a move.
Second: although Boba Fett and his Slave 1 look amazing throughout this story arc, there were marked variations on the model of the character. One of the later panels in the story even showed a shape to a chest armor plate that I was pretty sure Boba has never been seen to wear. Like I said, this isn’t a huge deal, a nit pick, but still jarring while reading.
You can grab Bounty Hunters Vol. 1 The Galaxy’s Deadliest today from the following fine e-tailers: