Tag Archives: Bounty Hunters

Darth Vader #15 Review


DARTH VADER #15
Reviewed by Nathan Harrison.
Written by: Greg Pak
Art: Raffaele Ienco
Released: 25/08/2021
Publisher: Marvel Comics

One of the bigger flaws with Disney’s expansion of the Skywalker Saga on screen with Episodes VII-IX was the feeling of everything being rushed. Many plot points that could have done with some expanding upon were introduced with very little in the way of explanation and simply brushed aside as unimportant (see ‘Somehow, Palpatine returned’). The same could be said for a number of characters who were given very little development and backstory. 

While he didn’t appear in The Rise of Skywalker as a living, breathing part of the action, Ochi of Bestoon falls firmly into this category, his existence simply used as a way of progressing what little plot the film offered. What we do learn about him, a Sith devotee and the killer of Rey’s parents, is enough to make him an intriguing prospect for further investigation, something that Greg Pak has taken on and delivered brilliantly since issue 6 of his run. And now, in issue 15, Ochi gets his time to shine, as ‘The Assassin’s Choice’ sees his faith and loyalty to Vader put to the test.

Such a story requires a slight gear shift, which is a little jarring – the events here take place before those of War of the Bounty Hunters #3, which was released first. Once this slight frustration is put aside, however, what we’re left with is an issue that manages to progress the plot of the WOTBH event, at least from Vader’s perspective, whilst also serving as a fun diversion from the wider arc. Pak balances this beautifully despite the blistering pace of the issue, just as he does the interactions between Ochi and Vader. Ochi’s motormouth, almost nervous energy plays so well against Vader’s laconic terror and yet they both show the same level of skill, the same number of reasons to be feared – it’s a partnership that pays dividends, so here’s hoping that Pak doesn’t separate them any time soon. If Ochi’s fate in Episode IX is anything to go by, he’ll certainly be making waves amongst the Sith for some time to come. 

Raffaele Ienco’s artwork is as solid as ever – his consistency across this run has been something to behold, as is his consistency across single issues when moving from static conversations to all out action. In a title whose two main characters both wear face covering helmets, Ienco shows incredible skill in still managing to convey a sense of each of them, lending the right emphasis to the dialogue in the reader’s mind, as if he were in fact showing the features underneath, whether it’s Vader’s stoic near silence or Ochi’s talkativeness he’s approaching. The action scenes virtually pop out of the page, giving an astonishing sense of movement to Ochi’s fighting style whilst also allowing each panel to be simple to follow and understand. So many artists can create fast, frenetic sequences that are so busy that the reader has to force themselves to slow down to take in the detail, to the detriment of the pace they are trying to convey – this is a trap that Ienco never falls into as the issue zips by with every nuance intact. 

Every panel is eye-catching and the colours by Jason Keith gel wonderfully with Ienco’s lines, his use of various shades of red creating a cohesive look for the whole issue, whether Pak is progressing the plot or taking the reader into the heat of battle. 


VERDICT

Further insight into the relationship between Darth Vader and Ochi of Bestoon is expertly mixed with high stakes action to create an issue that simply has everything, right down to the stunning final splash page that seems designed to finally cement these two characters as an unstoppable duo. 


Reviewed by Nathan Harrison.


Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters #3


STAR WARS: WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS #3
Reviewed by Nathan Harrison

Written by: Charles Soule
Art: Luke Ross
Colours: Neeraj Menon

Released: 18/08/21
Publisher: Marvel Comics

We have a saying here in Britain – ‘you wait ages for a bus and then two come along at once’. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but you get the idea. The same can be said, it seems, for unexpected but fun as hell fights in Star Wars comics, as Charles Soule and Luke Ross pack this latest issue with not one but two scraps for the ages.

Last issue saw Leia, Lando and Chewbacca almost quite literally bump into Boba Fett, teasing what promised to be one hell of an interesting collision of worlds. What follows here more than delivers on that cliffhanger, with everyone’s favourite Wookie facing up against the infamous bounty hunter. Across only a handful of panels, Ross delivers what must have been many a fan’s dream brawl for years, with Chewie egged on by a vengeful Lando.

But it’s not just the fight that makes this moment so wonderful to behold. The way Soule can write a conversation between characters who have historically been at each other’s throats that convincingly brings them on to something like the same side whilst still maintaining what makes each of those characters who they are is uniquely impressive. Amidst all the chaos that we’ve seen, not just in the mini-series but across the whole event, it’s great to be reminded in no uncertain terms of what drives Fett and nowhere is this more evident than in this brief encounter with the heroes of the Skywalker Saga.

As for the other fight…well…that’s probably best not spoiled, but fans of the myriad twists, turns and surprises that Soule has crammed into the previous two issues will not be disappointed, and what transpires across the second half makes for some of the most dynamic and impactful panels of the series so far – and that’s saying something when the quality of the art has been so high throughout. Neeraj Menon’s colour work is something really quite special that deserves to grace the pages of many more of Marvel’s titles, and its pastels and neon perfectly compliment Ross’ semi-cartoonish approach.

Like the previous two issues, Soule leaves things on a doozy of a cliffhanger, which still has real impact despite what we know about the fates of the main characters. It serves as a fitting end to a pulse-pounding, gasp-inducing third part to this story, and with the events of this issue driving the plot forward at a fair old lick, even amongst all the action, things only look likely to get more and more intense from here on out.


VERDICT

Soule, Ross and Menon continue to be the perfect team to put this series together. The consistency on show here proves that they were the best choice to create the core of this story. 34 parts overall is a lot and while most of the issues released so far have been excellent, there is room for bloat in such a vast project, as if often the case with such massive, all-encompassing events. This fast-paced, fun and energetic centrepiece could not be further away from such problems and represents some of the finest Star Wars storytelling on the stands right now.


Review by Nathan Harrison

Star Wars #15 Review


Review By Nathan Harrison

Written by: Charles Soule

Art: Ramon Rosanas
Released: 28/07/21Publisher: Marvel Comics

Though it may be named after one small set of characters, The Skywalker Saga and stories set within it will always be ensemble pieces. Charles Soule’s approach to his run has truly embraced this, bringing on board a wealth of new characters, reintroducing some old ones and occasionally taking some time away from whoever has been the focus of the last few issues to show what’s going on elsewhere in the galaxy. #15 is one of these issues, as we wipe transition from the main action of the War of the Bounty Hunters to see what Starlight Squadron, with Luke Skywalker in tow, have been up to. And while this issue may carry the overarching event’s name on its eye-popping cover, the story here is mostly separate from it and acts as a nice palette cleanser before hopping back into the action with the next issue of the central mini-series as we near the halfway point.

While it may be an almost standalone story, ‘Friends and Enemies’, as issue 15 is known, is densely packed – a huge dogfight makes up a good chunk of its duration, yet it’s still full of well thought out dialogue and character moments as Luke relives the destruction of the Death Star and finds that lightning doesn’t always strike twice. Ramon Rosanas brings a frenetic feel to the battle and his layouts make for tense, fast-paced reading, almost as nail-biting as the famous trench run itself. 

Starlight Squadron continue to be an engaging and fun element of Soule’s run, bringing Wedge Antilles right to the foreground, where he deserves to be. Considering how many strong, memorable, and iconic existing characters form the core of this title, Soule has done an incredible job of introducing a whole crop of new ones and making the reader genuinely care about them. 

His role as a writer on The High Republic also continues to have an influence – hope is a key theme of the original trilogy, so giving little nods to a period where the Jedi were at the height of their powers fits right in with this. Also, fans of Soule’s High Republic novel, Light of the Jedi, will get a kick out of the setting of this story. It’s satisfying to see some of the newest parts of the canon intertwining with what has been in place for over 40 years.



VERDICT

TIE fighters vs. X-wings, a desperate rebel last stand and an explosive finale make for possibly the most breathlessly exciting issue of this outstanding run so far. Soule provides some outstanding character moments and fun action, and Rosanas provides one of the most balletic and intense dogfights ever committed to the page, with many of his panels in glorious widescreen. While they and the rest of the team across the current Star Wars titles may be excelling at telling a broad, sweeping story right now, this slight detour proves that this comic is in just as rude health when almost the whole story is contained in just a handful of outstanding pages.


Review by Nathan Harrison, 30/07/2021 


Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters #2 Review


Written by:
Charles Soule
Art:
Luke Ross
Released: 14/07/21

Publisher:
Marvel Comics

Review by Nathan Harrison


One of the joys of being a Star Wars fan is that if an enjoyable character is created to appear only once on screen, chances are that those who want to see more of them will not be disappointed by what the expanded universe has to offer. This can lead to some of the biggest surprises across all of the franchise – the cliffhanger at the end of issue 1 of this limited series was a prime example, with Qi’ra (played by Emilia Clarke in Solo: A Star Wars Story) revealed to be the mastermind behind the theft of Han Solo and the new leader of Crimson Dawn having been their slave just a few years prior. And now she’s ready to sell the helpless, carbonite-encased rebel to the highest bidder at ‘The Scoundrel’s Ball’!

In the first few pages, Charles Soule shows that he is a master at packing in as much important information into just a minute or so’s reading time, without drifting into clunky exposition. He is aided beautifully by Luke Ross’ art and layout – wide, cinematic panels are packed with creatures from across the galaxy as Soule introduces us to all the criminals looking to snap up access to the galaxy’s most notorious smuggler.




While the stakes are high for some of everybody’s favourite Star Wars characters, the issue is still packed chock-full of humour – even the bounty hunter fight of the century between Boba Fett and Bossk is shot through with uniquely grim slapstick, enhanced by Neeraj Menon’s bright pastel colours, which continue to bring something really quite special to this book. Such an encounter could have easily taken up a whole issue, but the few pages here are beautifully done before Soule returns to the meat of the story.

As if Luke Ross didn’t have enough of a challenge on his hands with the early panels at the ball, Soule then starts to bring a lot of the threads and main characters of this epic event together, with Ross given the responsibility of bringing to life a gamut of iconic faces new and old. Unsurprisingly, it’s an occasion he rises to meet fantastically – each figure is drawn with painstaking accuracy but with a hint of cartoonish charm that compliments the fun approach Soule has taken with this book so far.


VERDICT

The War of the Bounty Hunters event well and truly gets underway this issue, with almost all the major players assuming their positions by the final page – whatever happens next, it looks as though some of the most fun (and potentially quite bonkers) Star Wars comics since their relaunch with Marvel all the way back in 2015 are on their way.


Review by Nathan Harrison 18/7/21