December 2, 2023

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Comic Review: Star Wars Bounty Hunters Volume 1

Bounty hunters from across the galaxy all seek out a single target, a former bounty hunter herself, for a wide range of reasons, most of them violent.

Considering how little screentime the various bounty hunters had in Empire Strikes Back, it sure is a bit of a surprise that they seem to be as popular as they are.  Sure, Boba Fett was a break-out star, but the others sure do seem to pop up quite a bit in various Star Wars media.  I’d say that’s unique, but quite frankly, that’s pretty much every character in Star Wars.

Regardless, there’s a Bounty Hunters series from Marvel now with a brand new character as the protagonist.  The first volume, subtitled Galaxy’s Deadliest, brings us Valance, a cyborg bounty hunter with his own set of problems.

Valance, perhaps more machine than man, is a bounty hunter who used to run with a group that included his mentor, a female bounty hunter from an aquatic world by the name of Nakano Lash, as well as more recognizable bounty hunter Bossk.  While on a job with a freelance Boba Fett, something went wrong.  The job was simple enough:  escort the heir to a criminal empire to a location where he could assassinate someone.  There were plenty of guards there, but they were no real match for the bounty hunters.  Then for some reason, Lash freaked out and killed the client instead of the target, forcing the group to make a run for it.  One of their number was killed, and the rest scattered.

Fast forward to a time just after Empire Strikes Back, and word comes out that Lash has been spotted for the first time in years.  There’s a huge bounty on her head, and numerous bounty hunters are out to get her, most notably Fett, Bossk, and Valance.  Valance alone is looking to get answers and possibly help Lash as he feels he owes her and has an honor code.  Bossk wants to do it for reasons that have something to do with his religion.  And Fett will do it for free because he feels he owes her, enough that he breaks off going immediately to deliver a certain smuggler frozen in carbonite in his hold to a certain Hutt gangster.  Other bounty hunters pop up as well, but the main focus is on Valance.  He’s the most benevolent of the bunch.

As a protagonist, Valance is rather rote.  His mechanical parts make him the most unique, complete with a blaster built into one hand, but he seems to be in need of a lot of repair off and on as the series progresses.  He believes, correctly, that Lash only did what she did for a good reason, and that the crime syndicate maybe didn’t tell their group the whole truth when they took the job.  But the character doesn’t feel particularly original, noticeably when the a pair of characters that are rather original and cool show up for a cameo, namely Doctor Aphra and Black Krrsantan.  Those two are proof it is possible to create more original and compelling characters in this universe, but Valance isn’t quite that.

That said, writer Ethan Sacks’s work isn’t bad all told, but artist Paolo Villanelli’s work isn’t always best suited to this series.  I couldn’t quite tell what was happening in various places.  The net result is a series I can’t say I was all that interested in.

7 out of 10 expected shots to the back.