What are Star Wars comics but buddy cop stories persevering? Another week gave us two new installments of the War of the Bounty Hunters crossover event in Doctor Aphra #13 and Darth Vader #15 and the trend just won’t stop! First it was Sana and Aphra, then Dengar and Valance, then somehow 4-Lom and Zuckuss (?!) and now we rolled the baddest buddies around, Vader and Ochi.
In seriousness though, these new issues brought back something the crossover had been lacking recently, mystery. The most common complaint I’ve heard in the past month has been about pacing. To some it felt like we were treading water, getting little snippets of setup in the tie-ins then inching forward the auction storyline with the main miniseries (a criticism I don’t entirely disagree with). Though I might add, now that we know this huge 35 issue crossover is but part one of a “Qi’ra trilogy”, my personal expectations have shifted. Regardless, these issues have enough in them to pull back the skeptical and keep the superfans (like me) entertained. So let’s jump in!
Darth Vader #15
The Assassin’s Choice written by Greg Pak is one of my favorite single issues of this year. Still though in the Darth Vader run we are playing catch up to the rest of the event, chronicling just how Vader and Ochi arrived in style at the end of War of the Bounty Hunters #2. This particular issue however is very Ochi centric, and it truly warms my heart to write this, but I’m falling in love with this guy. A character who first appeared as a literal skull! Background trash, barely making the D-list of side characters in the pantheon of Star Wars. But now? My god Ochi is an absolute delight. I want, no NEED, the story of Luke and Lando hunting this Sith assassin down now more than ever.
Pak writes him as the perfect comedic toady, but also is able to drive home his badassery at the same time. The dialogue, as you would expect, is on point. You can add “Colloquium” to the list of words I never thought I’d hear/read in a Star War. The plot of the issue sets Ochi (tasked by Vader) hunting to find out who our new favorite buff-Hutt Bokku is working with behind the scenes. Who would’ve guessed but it’s Crimson Dawn. It seems that Crimson Dawn has a much greater plan than it initially seemed. Their agents imply that they’ve infiltrated the whole galaxy, millions strong, individually weak but if brought together could destroy even the Empire. Revelations in Ahpra #13 point to the fact that they aren’t just targeting the Empire either, pointing to the fact that the upcoming Crimson Reign may be very literal. Speaking of Aphra…
Doctor Aphra #13
Guest of Honor by Alyssa Wong continues our cast of loveable rogues trip though the Vermillion as they make some shocking discoveries along the way! As far as the tie-ins go, this run particularly has felt the most “tied-in” if that makes any sense. It’s certainly a product of the fact that our two leads are at the same event witnessing the same things as those characters in the primary miniseries. But now that Vader has arrived at the auction, priorities have obviously shifted for Aphra, and I love how haunted she is by her past. It is extremely rewarding as a reader to feel the weight of the past 70 issues of her story hit home. However in their running from the Dark Lord of the Sith, Aphra and Sana decide to loot the place while everyone is distracted, but in the process reveal a vital secret. The Black Sun has a spy! And as we learned in Vader, so do the Hutts, and probably every single criminal syndicate and organization at this auction. I get the feeling Qi’ra is about to pull off a veritable “red wedding” in the Star Wars underworld, knocking off just about every single competitor and enemy she has.
Additionally, we continue the recently introduced Ariole and Lucky storyline as they battle their former master Gallin. He reveals to his former students he abandoned them and the Sixth Kin on account of Qi’ra, calling her a “Visionary” and going so far as to say “Crimson Dawn is the future.” Something is amiss! Deathstick cameos to beat some ass and by the end all four of our main characters have been imprisoned, trapped as Qi’ra’s plan likely goes into motion. What is that plan? I don’t know, but I couldn’t be more excited to find out!
And that’s this week’s comics.
Thanks for reading and seeya next week for some High Republic goodness!