Warning: This story contains SPOILERS for Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #1.
An old face from Han Solo’s past just popped into his life…without him even knowing it.
The first issue of the new Star Wars mini-series War of the Bounty Hunters has a frozen Han being “rescued” by the most unexpected face in Star Wars lore.
Marvel’s current in-canon Star Wars comics take place “in between” the events of the original trilogy. “War” is set shortly after The Empire Strikes Back as Boba Fett is transporting Han, frozen in carbonite, to Jabba the Hutt.
When he sees the carbonite is failing, Fett puts down on Nar Shaddaa, the most crime-ridden planet in the galaxy. To pay for repairs, Boba took part in a gladiator battle under his father’s name, Jango.
When Boba returned, he discovered the clinic ransacked and Solo missing. He jumped to the logical conclusion another bounty hunter had stolen Han to get the money himself.
Complicating matters was Boba learning someone had put a price on his head so large that scores of would-be hunters were ready to collect.
Heading to a meeting with Jabba, Fett learned Han had been abducted by the crime syndicate Crimson Dawn. That leader put Han on “auction” to the highest bidder with the Hutts, Leia, Alliance members, Imperial officers, and even freelance crook Doctor Aphra in attendance.
In private, the leader of Crimson Dawn looked at the frozen Han to intone that he “always wanted to save me. Now he’ll get his chance.”
She then pulled back the hood to reveal herself as none other than Han’s first love, Qi’ra.
Who is Qi’ra?
2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story told the origins of Han (played by Alden Ehrenreich), who started life as a street kid on Corellia. He was in love with Qi’ra, played by Emilia Clarke.
Circumstances separated them, with Han going on his journey from Imperial cadet to meeting Chewbacca and becoming a smuggler. It was there he reunited with Qi’ra, now working for Crimson Dawn leader Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany).
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Amid a heist, their old spark grew and after Qi’ra killed Vos in a fight, she told Han to leave, and she’d catch up. Instead, she took over Vos’ spot to report to Crimson Dawn’s true leader, Darth Maul.
Han’s last sight of Qi’ra was watching her ship leave and realizing she’d made the choice to stay in her criminal life. That pushed him and Chewie onto their own path.
What Qi’ra’s return means
The return of Qi’ra is intriguing. Her words indicate that she had taken over Crimson Dawn herself.
It should be noted that the Star Wars Rebels series had Maul finally being killed by Obi-Wan Kenobi before the events of A New Hope. This left a power vacuum in Crimson Dawn.
Oddly, her appearance works in the timeline as Han is still frozen, so would have no memory of this “reunion.” What Qi’ra wants is a mystery. It could be a straight-up auctioning of Han for profit, or she may have an ulterior motive in mind.
The most intriguing idea is what happens when Qi’ra crosses paths with Leia. The sight of Han’s former love clashing with his current one would be powerful with each woman, in their own way, in love with him and wanting to help.
Also of note are her words on wanting Han to “save” her. Perhaps Qi’ra is tired of this life as a gang leader and the darkness and longs for her more innocent days. Saving Han could be a way to save herself from this path.
As it stands, Qi’ra’s arrival is sparking up an already intriguing crossover, with Han having no idea just how many people are ready to fight over him.
Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #1 now on sale.