C

harles Soule launched a huge initiative in Star Wars comics in 2021. War of the Bounty Hunters was set to be the first full event crossover in the modern era. Although we had seen minor crossovers such as Screaming Citadel and Vader Down, this was different. War of the Bounty Hunters would dominate all of the Star Wars comic landscape, with the exception of The High Republic, for several months.

At the time, the story was just set to tell the tale of what happened to Boba Fett and his attempt to secure Han Solo’s bounty following the events of Empire Strikes Back; however, it grew substantially as the months went on The event had far reaching implications, and it was just the beginning of something larger. Charles Soule has since unveiled that War of the Bounty Hunters is, in fact, the first story in a trilogy leading us up to Return of the Jedi and will be followed by Crimson Reign and then Hidden Empire.

Cover Collage from the War of the Bounty Hunters Crossover Event
Image Credit: Youtini

Prior Knowledge

Now that we’ve set the stage for this epic, it is important to understand how everything fits together. The event has six issues of a self-titled main series (including the Alpha issue), four standalone one-shot comics, and a full arc of each of the four ongoing Marvel series.

In total, that spans thirty-four issues of comics. 

This can seem incredibly daunting to start, but we hope to guide you through this story as easily as possible. We’re going to begin by outlining what has been happening in each of the ongoing series to set the stage. They all have about twelve issues that occur prior to the start of the event, and each begin with a prelude issue that helps transition to the main action.

Star Wars (2020) by Charles Soule & Ramon Rosana

Cover for volume 2 of Star Wars (2020)
Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Star Wars, written by Charles Soule with art by Ramon Rosanas, has been following the Rebels following a tough defeat in Empire Strikes Back. Each of the main characters is learning to adjust after losing Han. Luke is trying to learn what it means to become a Jedi, and successfully manages to track down a new lightsaber after losing his in the duel on Cloud City. Leia is taking on new responsibilities in the Rebellion and is trying to reunite the scattered fleets after the events at Hoth, using a new advanced system of coded transmissions. Lando and Lobot are learning to operate in their new positions in the rebellion.

Tarkin’s former protege, Commander Ellian Zahra, is hellbent on tracking down Leia’s band of Rebels on her Star Destroyer, Tarkin’s Will. Starlight Squadron, led by Shara Bey, gets in an engagement with Zahra. In the heat of the battle, Shara Bey gets left stranded on the enemy ship.

Bounty Hunters by Ethan Sacks & Paolo Villanelli

Cover for Volume 2 of Bounty Hunters

Bounty Hunters, by Ethan Sacks with art by Paolo Villanelli, follows the terminator-style bounty hunter Beilert Valance. Valance is an old character from Legends that was brought back in the miniseries Han Solo: Imperial Cadet. Valance was severely injured in his time serving for the Empire, and is now heavily modified with cybernetics.

The series starts off in the past, detailing a war between rival Corellian criminal factions: the Unbroken Clan and The Mourner’s Wail Syndicate. Valence’s mentor, Nakano Lash is leading a mission with the Mourner’s Wail heir to kill the heir of their rival. Lash ends up turning on her client and killing him, leading to an all out war.

In the present day, Lash has reappeared after going to ground after the job that went wrong. Valance, along with several other bounty hunters, go after Lash. It is revealed that Lash killed her client because the client was going after the rival heir due to them getting pregnant. Lash saved the daughter—heir to both gangs—and has been keeping her hidden. Valance and his new ally, T’Onga, eventually catch up with Lash and learn about this development. Lash is killed, and Valance and the girl, Cadeliah, escape. He ends up leaving the girl with a band of Rebels, led by his former love interest, to keep her safe. He ends up going on one mission for the Rebels and gets caught up with Dengar, as the two become unlikely partners. Shortly thereafter, it launches into the events of crossover.

Darth Vader (2020) by Greg Pak & Raffaele Ienco

Cover for Volume 2 of Darth Vader (2020)
Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Darth Vader, by Greg Pak with art by Raffaele Ienco, started with a bang. The series explores the Dark Lord as he is adjusting from his confrontation with Luke at Bespin. The series begins with Vader hunting down the past of his son, and figuring out how Luke became who he is now. During his investigation, he returns to Naboo to visit the resting place of Padmé Amidala. There he is confronted by the Amidalans: a faction of her supporters composed mainly of former handmaidens and led by none other than Sabé. The Emperor later sends the assassin, Ochi of Bestoon, after Vader. Ochi fails to kill Vader on Mustafar, and the two go to Exegol to learn more of the Emperor’s grand plan for the galaxy and confront a giant space-kaiju. After a few revelations on the Emperor’s hidden planet, Vader recommits to tracking down Skywalker and finds himself in the midst of the crossover event.

Doctor Aphra (2020) by Alyssa Wong & Minkyu Jung

Cover for Volume 2 of Doctor Aphra (2020)
Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Doctor Aphra, by Alyssa Wong with art by Minkyu Jung, continues the wacky adventures of everyone’s favorite rogue archaeologist. She starts off by teaming up with a new crew and hunting down the mystical Rings of Vaale, which are said to give the wearer incredible power. It turns out her client is Ronen Tagge, of the incredibly powerful Tagge family. After bringing the artifact to Tagge, a bit of double-crossing ensues and Aphra has him thrown in an incinerator. She escapes, but not before gaining a bounty on her head from the leader of the family, Domina Tagge. The bounty gains the attention of Aphra’s ex-girlfriend, Sana Starros, and the two are thrust together in some unlikely circumstances. The two end up working for Domina in a twist of fate, and go after a man claiming to have a Nihil path drive. While hunting down a rare arts collector, Aphra and Sana stumble upon an invitation to an auction for Han Solo, and find themselves propelled into the events of War of the Bounty Hunters.

Additional Characters

Beyond the characters in our main series, there are a few others that play prominent roles in the event. 

Qi’ra

Charles Soule shocked the fans when he brought Qi’ra back into the mix in War of the Bounty Hunters #1. Han’s former love interest has been absent from Star Wars storyline since Solo: A Star Wars Story debuted back in 2018. The captivating character has brought Crimson Dawn, a syndicate most thought to be dead, back from the shadows for one big scheme. She is gathering all of the power players from across the galaxy in order to vie for the chance to take home Han Solo.

Boba Fett

Everyone’s favorite bounty hunter is just trying to finish out his job. He is taking Han Solo’s carbonite slab back from Bespin when the vital functions of the slab begin to fail. With Han’s life, and his bounty, in jeopardy, Fett takes a detour to Nar Shaddaa in order to get it fixed. While he is taking care of business, the slab is stolen right from underneath him. Jabba the Hutt places a bounty on Fett’s head, and Boba goes on a mission to finish the job.

Reading Methods

Now that we’ve set the stage, it’s time to look at how you should read the event. Again, there are thirty-four issues of comics, but don’t worry; you don’t have to read all of them to absorb the full story. We’ll first touch on ways to actually get the comics, and then we’ll turn to the order in which you can read them.

Single Issues

You should first choose if you want to read your comics digitally or physically. Big factors to consider are price, availability, and physical space. If you choose single issues as your form of reading, physical may be a little more difficult for a few reasons. As of writing, we are already a few months removed from the event, and issues only become more difficult and/or expensive to procure over time. For digital, your two main options are using the Marvel Unlimited subscription service, which will give you access to all of their back issues on a three month delay, or buying them permanently via comixology/Amazon. Either one of these services can be used either on a computer or through the slightly more convenient apps found on any iPad or digital reader.

Cover for War of the Bounty Hunters #1
Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Trade Paperbacks

Trade paperbacks will likely be the most popular way to consume the story for those coming to it after it has concluded. Trade paperbacks are collections of usually 4-6 issues that are bound together months after initial release. They are slightly cheaper than buying issue by issue (especially if you consider the single issue prices going up over time) and are usually in supply at major retailers

The War of the Bounty Hunters story is split into six different trade paperbacks. There is one for each ongoing series, one for the main series and the alpha, and one for the four one-shots called the Companion.

  1. Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Vol. 1
  2. Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Companion Vol. 1
  3. Star Wars (2020) Vol. 3: War of the Bounty Hunters
  4. Bounty Hunters (2020) Vol. 3: War of the Bounty Hunters
  5. Darth Vader (2020) Vol. 3: War of the Bounty Hunters
  6. Doctor Aphra (2020) Vol. 3: War of the Bounty Hunters

Omnibus

Lastly, for the collectors, Marvel has created a War of the Bounty Hunters omnibus. Omnibuses are a premium format that usually collect every issue of a given series. The books are hardbacks and the pages are larger than that of a trade paperback. This will collect all thirty-four issues. If you want to get them all in one purchase, this is the way to go. The War of the Bounty Hunters omnibus will be released in October 2022. Like single issues, they can be limited in supply and are subject to increasing in price over time. Be warned, they are very large and very heavy. Storage and proper care are big considerations when purchasing an omnibus. However, for those willing to deal with these drawbacks, the omnibus is a premiere reading and collecting experience.

Reading Order

Now it comes to the order you’re going to read the issues. This will naturally influence the format you purchase books in, and vice versa. Let’s discuss two orders of reading that will help you pick the best experience for you: reading every issue or reading a more condensed order.

Official Reading Order

Marvel has published their full order of reading, via Wookieepedia, for War of the Bounty Hunters which essentially follows the order of publishing. For a slightly improved experience we would recommend swapping Doctor Aphra #12 and War of the Bounty Hunters #2, swapping Bounty Hunters #15 and 4-LOM and Zuckuss, and putting Star Wars #18 at the very end. Those changes are reflected in the order below, but you can still enjoy the story in the order Marvel has provided.

Cover for War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha #1
Image Credit: Marvel Comics

1. War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha #1

2. Star Wars (2020) #13

3. Bounty Hunters #12

4. Darth Vader (2020) #12

5. Doctor Aphra (2020) #10

6. War of the Bounty Hunters #1

7. Bounty Hunters #13

8. Star Wars (2020) #14

9. Darth Vader (2020) #13

10. Doctor Aphra (2020) #11

11. Bounty Hunters #14

12. War of the Bounty Hunters #2

13. Doctor Aphra (2020) #12

14. Darth Vader (2020) #14

15. War of the Bounty Hunters – Jabba the Hutt #1

Cover for Star Wars (2020) #15
Image Credit: Marvel Comics

16. Star Wars (2020) #15

17. War of the Bounty Hunters – 4-LOM & Zuckuss #1

18. Bounty Hunters #15

19. War of the Bounty Hunters #3

20. Star Wars (2020) #16

21. Darth Vader (2020) #15

22. Doctor Aphra (2020) #13

23. War of the Bounty Hunters #4

24. Doctor Aphra (2020) #14

25. Darth Vader (2020) #16

Cover for War of the Bounty Hunters: Boushh #1
Image Credit: Marvel Comics

26. War of the Bounty Hunters – Boushh #1

27. Bounty Hunters #16

28. Star Wars (2020) #17

29. War of the Bounty Hunters #5

30. Doctor Aphra (2020) #15

31. Darth Vader (2020) #17

32. War of the Bounty Hunters – IG-88 #1

33. Bounty Hunters #17

34. Star Wars (2020) #18

Trade Paperback Order

The next option is reading straight through each trade paperback, one at a time. You would start with the main series TPB, and then run through the remaining volumes. We’ve provided a recommended order, but you have the freedom to progress however you prefer.

  1. Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Vol. 1
  2. Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Companion Vol. 1
  3. Darth Vader (2020) Vol. 3: War of the Bounty Hunters
  4. Doctor Aphra (2020) Vol. 3: War of the Bounty Hunters
  5. Bounty Hunters (2020) Vol. 3: War of the Bounty Hunters
  6. Star Wars (2020) Vol. 3: War of the Bounty Hunters
Cover of Doctor Aphra (2020) Vol. 3
Image Credit: Marvel Comics

This method makes it easier to keep track of all of the individual storylines. This is especially helpful with Darth Vader, which is presented in non-chronological order. It also allows you to easily skip certain series that you are not invested in. Lastly, you don’t have to be flipping back and forth between several books to follow the “true order”. The one main downside is that you may have trouble figuring out where the tie-in books take place in the sequence of events.

Youtini Curated Order

The last way to read is our curated reading list. We’ve attempted to cut down a lot of the issues that we felt were less important to the central plot, and all of the issues below are easily available on all digital platforms.

1. War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha #1

2. War of the Bounty Hunters #1

3. Star Wars (2020) #14

4. Doctor Aphra (2020) #11

5. War of the Bounty Hunters #2

6. War of the Bounty Hunters – Jabba the Hutt #1

Cover t o 4-LOM & Zuckuss #1
Image Credit: Marvel Comics

7. War of the Bounty Hunters – 4-LOM & Zuckuss #1

8. Bounty Hunters #15

9. War of the Bounty Hunters #3

10. Darth Vader (2020) #15

11. War of the Bounty Hunters #4

12. War of the Bounty Hunters – Boushh #1

13. Bounty Hunters #16

14. Star Wars (2020) #17

Cover to War of the Bounty Hunters #5
Image Credit: Marvel Comics

15. War of the Bounty Hunters #5

16. Doctor Aphra (2020) #15

17. Darth Vader (2020) #17

18. War of the Bounty Hunters – IG-88 #1

19. Bounty Hunters #17

20. Star Wars (2020) #18

Just the Miniseries

The final (and most streamlined) way to read the story is just by picking up the main War of the Bounty Hunters TPB. This volume contains the Alpha and War of the Bounty Hunters issues #1-5. This will give you the main overarching plot of the drama between Qi’ra, Boba Fett, and everyone else, but you will miss out on some of the finer details that are covered in the tie-in issues. Star Wars #18 acts as a great epilogue for the event, and would be a good way to supplement this if you want just a little more. There is no shame in reading this way or in any of the formats listed above, and each reading path should put you in a good place to read Crimson Reign and Hidden Empire going forward.

Cover to War of the Bounty Hunters Vol 1
Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Now, you should have all of the tools and information you need to both read for War of the Bounty Hunters, and get prepared for Crimson Reign and Hidden Empire. This trilogy of comic series will be a defining piece of media for the post Empire Strikes Back era, and is a must read for all Original Trilogy Fans.

For more information about these upcoming events and all things Star Wars comics, be sure to keep your eyes on Youtini and check out The Cosmic Force live every Wednesday night at 8pm Eastern on YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts.

Cover to Crimson Reign #1
Image Credit: Youtini
Jacob is a law student living in Indiana. He has been a Star Wars fan for as long as he can remember: growing up with hand-me-down Kenner action figures and the 1995 VHS box set. He currently produces The Cosmic Force podcast, and assists with anything regarding Star Wars comics. In his limited free time, Jacob enjoys craft beer and bar trivia, as well as spending time with his dog Ruby.