Darth Vader: War of the Bounty Hunters – Prelude

After learning of his Master’s plans on Exogol, Vader undergoes severe repairs and prepares to enter the War of the Bounty Hunters.

Returning to the medical centre where Vader was originally put into the suit, Palpatine orders the workers to repair the damaged Vader who chooses to undergo the procedure without pain relief, allowing him to use the pain to fuel his anger and tap deeper into the Dark Side.

Vader has visions and memories of Luke, starting to believe his son to be weak without his friends, Vader turns his attention to them, especially Han Solo whose involvement at The Battle of Yavin caused Vader to become distracted, allowing Luke to blow up the Death Star.

Meanwhile, Palpatine attempts to reassure Mas Amedda and Sly Moore that Vader won’t turn his ire on them and will instead find himself a new target to unleash his anger upon.

Once Vader is essentially healed (and in a newer, slightly shiny suit as opposed to before), Ochi has also undergone a procedure to heal his eyes (giving him the really creepy look we see in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’). Vader takes Ochi to work with him.

Later, Ochi appears before Bokku the Hutt, telling the gangster that Vader is searching for Solo. Bokku doesn’t believe the assassin until Vader himself arrives.

Honestly, I’m really disappointed with about half of this issue. The other half is superb.

The superb half is the sections set in ‘the present’. Vader being rebuilt is seriously intense, seeing the repair droids essentially pull him apart to rebuild his cybernetic limbs and the knowledge that he is fully conscious at the time is almost terrifying.

Palpatine fully understands what his apprentice is doing and thanks to his insight knows that Vader would no longer pose a threat to him after witnessing a tiny portion of the Emperor’s machinations on Exogol and even reassures his closest advisers that even they will be safe. That’s some power they hold if they are safe from Vader who has been seen laying waste to Rebels, Tuskens and Geonosians in the pages of his various comic runs.

Finally getting the Ochi of Bestoon that we’ve seen on screen feels like a long time coming, and I hope that now he’s partnered with Vader instead of hunting him, we will see his character develop more.

The half I was let down by was Greg Park’s over reliance on flashbacks to the films and previous comics. I know that they have been a staple in this and Charles Soule’s run on the title but seriously, I already own all of those and if I wanted to I’d have a catch-up session instead of getting whole clips in comic form. One or two panels here and there wouldn’t bother me but it feels like almost half the issue is old material.

That being said, the art is astounding, and rather than getting the scary uncanny valley style we had back in the early days of the first run.

I feel the issue could have been much better and even covered more ground with Vader and Ochi visiting Bokka had the flackbacks been trimmed. Whilst it sets Vader’s place in the crossover event by the end, this felt more like a tacked on ending to the Exogol plot from the last few issues, definitely not the best issue of this run and I hope that Vader’s involvement in ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ doesn’t drag the series down.

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