Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #9 - Marvel Comics

Featuring an intriguing insight into what caused Beilert Valance’s disaffection for the Empire, a pulse-pounding battle between a Rebel transport and a pack of blood-thirsty pirates, and an appearance by the Corellian bounty hunter “known as Dengar the Demolisher”, many of those bibliophiles who bought Issue Nine of “Star Wars: Bounty Hunters” were probably wondering just how Ethan Sacks managed to cram so much narrative within the space of a single twenty-page periodical. Happily however, rather than being a jumbled mishmash of ideas and convoluted sub-plots, “Squadron Of One” is instead a genuinely well-penned thrill-a-minute ride, which includes some enthralling back history to this book’s central character, as well as some truly sensational starfighter set-pieces.

For starters the comic starts on the planet Qhulosk after an Imperial raid, and pits “the top cadet in the whole Carida Imperial Naval Academy” against some of the ravaged world’s tentacle-headed survivors. Deprived of his vessel, his hand-blaster and the rest of his squadron, a livid Valance demonstrates a truly impressive appetite for life by battering his numerous attackers apart with nothing more than a rod of rusty metal; “Why… Why did the Empire… Leave me behind? I gave everything I had…”

Such tenacity in the face of seemingly unassailable odds is subsequently reinforced by Sacks’ script when the book returns its readers back to current events, and depicts Beilert besting a formidably-sized blockade in order to ‘land’ the partially-destroyed Broken Wing aboard a Gallofree medium transport ship. The subsequent hostility between the Rebels’ cyborg rescuer and Commander Hill Purpura is palpable, especially when it becomes clear that the freedom fighters’ dislikeable leader is all-too willing to surrender to Captain Skragg simply to save his own worthless hide.

More than aiding this publication’s considerable pace is Paolo Villanelli, whose ability to etch Valance’s emotions upon the human bounty hunter’s ravaged face genuinely helps sell each and every scene the former Chorin-born mining slave features in. Furthermore, the artist’s attention to detail by capturing the likenesses of actors Harrison Ford and Maurice Bush during their on-screen characters' cameos as Han Solo and Dengar is excellent, and makes both scoundrels’ all-too fleeting appearances enjoyably memorable.

The regular cover art of STAR WARS: BOUNTY HUNTERS #9 by Paolo Villanelli & Arif Prianto

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