When last we left the antiheroes in Marvel Comics’ ongoing comic-book series Star Wars: Bounty Hunters by writer Ethan Sacks, the elite Imperial commando unit known as Inferno Squad had incapacitated T’onga and 4-LOM, with its leader Iden Versio preparing to infiltrate the Edgehawk with the droid.
But issue #34 of this title actually opens on a flashback to the youth of a different central character, Beilert Valance, where we see him bonding with his mother over his aspirations to leave the planet of Chorin and become a pilot instead of toiling in a mine like his parents.
Then the comic cuts back to the “present” (the period set between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi), where Valance and his combative Trandoshan crewmate Bossk are arguing once again. Outside, Versio springs her trap, having cleverly disguised herself as T’onga to approach the ship. Then chaos breaks loose as Inferno Squad also manages to take out Losha, Zuckuss, and Tasu Leech from the bounty hunter crew, leaving them alive but unable to prevent the squad from entering the Edgehawk, where their quarry Valance awaits. Meanwhile on Corellia, the assassin droid IG-88 has infiltrated the Ubroken Clan’s sanctuary, where General Vukorah was facing an uprising of her own against her. But instead of following through on collecting the Imperial bounty on Vukorah’s head, the droid is manipulated into eliminating the Unbroken Clan insurgents through some technicalities raised by Vukorah herself. Indeed, it turns out that she was the one who provided IG-88 with the location of the sanctuary in the first place, and lucky for us readers that she did, because we got to see the underutilized droid go up against a whole mess of cutthroat adversaries and dispel them in an extremely satisfying way.
Back in the Depatar spaceport where the Edgehawk is docked for repairs, Valance and Bossk become alerted to Inferno Squad’s attack thanks to Zuckuss firing off some warning shots with his blaster, and we get another fun fight scene as the two cantankerous bounty hunters put aside their differences to fight the highly skilled Imperial soldiers. But when it comes down to the choice of surrendering or allowing Versio to execute Bossk, Beilert opts to hand himself over and let Iden erase his memories– all of them, including those remaining of his childhood– so that he no longer possesses knowledge of the second Death Star being built or its schematics. This issue ends with Tasu bidding farewell to the crew and with T’onga forcing Losha to go with him to safety, and we also have to say goodbye to artist Paolo Villanelli, for whom this was the final installment of Bounty Hunters. I had a complicated relationship with Villanelli’s art over the past few years, and it definitely took me some time to warm up to it, but I will say that I ended up feeling like it was the right fit for this title, and that #34 was a great issue to go out on. This issue demonstrated everything that Sacks and Vilanelli did best as a partnership that lasted since before the pandemic began, and I’ll be sure to revisit their work together someday in the future. For now, it will be a welcome fresh start for Beilert Valance, T’onga, Bossk, Zuckuss, 4-LOM, and General Vukorah when Star Wars: Bounty Hunters returns to see Ethan Sacks joining forces with a new artist next month.
Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #34 is available now wherever comic books are sold.