Star Wars: How Shadows of the Empire Predicted War of the Bounty Hunters
Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters & Shadows of the Empire take different approaches to the gap between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
Across Marvel’s Star Wars comics, War of the Bounty Hunters is well underway, diving deeper into the gap between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. However, this is not the first time that Star Wars has explored the events that transpired between the blockbuster films. They were first examined during Marvel’s initial Star Wars run that was released alongside the movies. Since Return of the Jedi had not come out at this time, there was only so much Marvel could do with the story. Years later, that gap would later be filled in by a multimedia project launched by Lucasfilm Ltd. in the mid-90s.
Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire launched in May of 1996 with the release of the Shadows of the Empire novel by Steve Perry alongside Dark Horse Comics’ Shadows of the Empire #1 by John Wagner, Kilian Plunkett, P. Craig Russell, and Cary Porter. The event would also receive a video game release in November of 1996 for the Nintendo 64. All three versions essentially told the same story with varying levels of detail.
Shadows of the Empire effectively tells the story of mercenary Dash Rendar as he helps the Rebellion attempt to recover Han Solo, who was frozen in carbonite. After leaving Bespin, Boba Fett attempted to deliver Solo to Jabba the Hutt on Tatooine. He was stopped short by IG-88 and Fett’s ship was badly damaged in their battle. Fett knew there was an army of bounty hunters on Tatooine waiting to claim Solo’s bounty for their own and elected to go to the planet Gall in order to repair his ship.
Meanwhile, in a desperate attempt to capture Luke Skywalker, the Emperor forged an alliance with the Black Suns and their dreaded leader Prince Xizor, who was playing both sides. He helped the Rebel Alliance in case they were successful in toppling the Empire, while he also aimed to take Darth Vader’s place as the Emperor’s right hand and developed various schemes to make the Dark Lord look bad.
Rendar, along with the Rebellion, set out to locate Fett while Luke hid on Tatooine and built his green lightsaber thanks to notes left by Obi-Wan Kenobi. Fett was able to escape the Rebellion and made quick work of Bossk, 4-LOM, Zuckuss, and the other bounty hunters who came after him. Leia would eventually be captured and held hostage by the Black Suns, causing the Rebellion to abandon their rescue efforts in regards to Han Solo.
With the Rebellion out of the way, Fett only had to deal with the other bounty hunters, and he developed an ingenious plan to do so. 4-Lom and Zuckuss had both failed to capture Solo and ended up prisoners of Fett. The experienced bounty hunter dressed Zuckuss up as himself and put 4-LOM’s damaged parts on top of a carbonite slab and sent them into the Tatooine desert. The bounty hunters flooded to this decoy while Fett was able to deliver Solo to Jabba unscathed.
While War of the Bounty Hunters is a very different story, it still covers some of the same general ideas. Instead of dealing with the Black Suns, the galaxy is now faced with the threat of Crimson Dawn, which did not exist during the days of Shadows of the Empire. The Crimson Dawn has a much greater desire to obtain Solo which is keeping the smuggler in the spotlight. Star Wars’ other attempts at telling this story have drifted away from Fett and Solo towards events involving Luke, Leia, and the Rebellion. War of the Bounty Hunters still includes all of the usual Star Wars players but has directed them all to the same destination rather than giving them each their own individual stories.
War of the Bounty Hunters is doing something none of the other attempts to cover this era dared; it’s taking Han Solo out of Boba Fett’s hands. Every other version of this era has shown Fett playing defense and keeping his valuable treasure safe from other bounty hunters. Now that Crimson Dawn has stolen Solo from Fett, he is on the offensive and working to get his revenge. With the Rebellion, Empire, and many criminal organizations interested in obtaining Solo, Fett will have a much more difficult time delivering his bounty than ever before.
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