The character of bounty hunter Beilert Valance was reintroduced to the current Star Wars canon (after first being featured in Marvel’s original 1970s Star Wars comic-book series) via the Han Solo – Imperial Cadet miniseries, and then in Target: Vader, which saw the antihero go up against the Dark Lord of the Sith for the first time.
Now, in Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #31– out today from Marvel Comics, Valance has an even better reason to combat Vader– the Empire has destroyed the rebel base where the love of his life was hiding out.
Bounty Hunters #31 begins on the planet Bestine IV, where– in picking up just after the cliffhanger ending of the previous issue– Valance is already face-to-face with Vader on the battlefield, as his friends look on helplessly from the background. And despite the cyborg bounty hunter not having any dark Force powers like his opponent, his robotic enhancements do help make him a fairly even match for the Dark Lord. There’s a back-and-forth for a few pages until T’onga tries to intervene on a speeder bike and immediately gets cut down by Vader, who has finally ignited his lightsaber, thus finally giving him the upper hand in the battle. From there, Vader reveals that he has ordered a TIE bombardment of the village Valance was trying to protect, and where the Imperial team he had been leading was hiding out. This pushes Beilert even further into a fit of rage, but Vader only forces his subordinate Jyala Haydenn– with whom Valance had been developing a relationship– to eliminate his enemy.
Then we cut to Corellia, where members of the Unbroken Clan are still unrestful about their leadership, currently in the form of General Vukorah. But the Clan knows that their true heir Cadeliah exists somewhere out there in the hands of Crimson Dawn, and they secretly plan to depose Vukorah in favor of the star-crossed successor. After a double-paged flashback that gives us a bit more insight into Vukorah’s youth, we cut back to Bestine IV, where Haydenn is chastised by Vader for simply shooting Valance in the face and not ensuring his death. On the ground below the cliff on which the battle took place, Losha and 4-LOM find poor Beilert, still living but back in his old half-face form. The hunters escape on their ship (though Bossk still wants revenge against Valance) and in a cliffhanger ending, Haydenn brings in a new team to track them: Inferno Squad from Star Wars: Battlefront II. Fans of that video game and its story missions are probably going to get a kick out of this arc of the Bounty Hunters comic as it seems our protagonists are about to encounter another formidable enemy. With issue #31, I think writer Ethan Sacks and artist Paolo Villanelli have delivered another fun, exciting, action-packed installment in this series– though I found Vukorah’s flashback even more disturbing than I had anticipated (which makes sense, given her attitude), and would probably issue a warning about it to animal lovers. But I especially enjoyed watching Valance go toe-to-toe with Darth Vader once again, and I’m definitely interested to see what happens next now that Inferno Squad is involved.
Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #31 is available now wherever comic books are sold.