Writing a Boba Fett fight scene must be tricky, due to the disconnect between his portrayal in the films and everywhere else. On screen, there’s not much to Boba Fett. In Empire Strikes Back, the audience is told he’s dangerous but he doesn’t really do much but look cool, and then in Return of the Jedi, he has brief fight with Luke before a jet pack malfunction sends him to his seeming death inside the Sarlaac Pit (An “over-reliance on technology” message George Lucas would repeat with Boba’s dad in Attack of the Clones). From the films alone, Boba Fett is a cool looking character with a great reputation who, at best, doesn’t do much and, at worse, is kind of a chump.
But fandom latched onto the character, and thanks to the Expanded Universe, Boba Fett is usually depicted as an uber-cool, ultra-capable bounty hunter, highly trained and able to go toe-to-toe with some of the galaxy’s best fighters. With the centerpiece of this issue a fight between Luke and Boba Fett, that disconnect presents a challenge for Jason Aaron. Should a still-in-training Luke win too easily, which could certainly be consistent with Boba Fett’s portrayal in the films, it’ll upset the legions of Boba Fett fans who expect the character to be difficult to beat. But realistically, there’s no way the Luke Skywalker of this era should be able to hold his own against the highly effective Boba Fett of the Expanded Universe, especially after having been disorientated and blinded by Fett at the end of the previous issue.
It’s a dangerous line Aaron has to walk, and for the most part, he walks it well in this issue. Fett is, of course, hamstrung by his orders to bring Luke in alive (had he been able to kill him, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t have pulled it off), which puts him at a disadvantage, while Luke’s efforts to use the Force against his foe are depicted as being much more instinctive than deliberate, consistent with his level of power and lack of training at this point in the character’s history. The end result is a fight where Luke’s escape from Fett is believable without making the bounty hunter look like a chump.
For his part, John Cassaday, in his last issue on the series (for now, at least), goes out with a bang, depicting the Luke/Fett fight with a gritty energy befitting its knockdown, drag-out nature. In particular, he moves the “camera” a lot, depicting the fight from some unique and different angles, such as one page where the two foes charge at one another from across the room, drawn such that the point of view is from the floor looking up at the ceiling, with the fighters in between, and casts much of the action in medium shots, with the combatants large in the panels but not as large as if in closeups. As a result, the action and the shifting techniques of the fighters remain easy to follow, but the whole thing is much more interesting to read.
In addition to the big fight at the center of the issue, there are two fairly significantly developments at the end that do a lot to establish this series as the leading developer of the new Disney Star Wars Universe (at least for now). Without spoiling those reveals, it can be said that they combine with the well-executed Luke/Boba Fett fight to maintain the re-energized momentum of the series from last issue, and help send Cassaday out on a high note.
Here’s some thoughts on those two big developments:
The first big reveal, and the one that caught the Internet’s attention after the issue went on sale, is that the mysterious woman who’s been stalking Han Solo since issue #4 is revealed to be his wife, Sana Solo, a brand new character whose existence makes a pretty loud statement that this series is really going to break new ground in relation to what the previous Expanded Universe did; while Han had plenty of pre-Leia girlfriends in the old EU, this is the first time he’s ever had a wife. It’s also important to note that that at this point, all we know is that this character is saying she’s Han’s wife. There’s already been a lot of teeth gnashing online about this development, but it’s important to note that whatever her story is and what impact it will have on Han, Leia and the saga as whole remains to be seen.
The second development involves Darth Vader learning from Boba Fett that the pilot who blew up the Death Star is named Skywalker and thus, his son. This arguably isn’t as big a reveal as Sana, since audiences know Vader learned about Luke at some point prior to Empire Strikes Back, but this is the first time the moment when Vader learns about Luke and his reaction to that knowledge has been rendered in canon, which is a pretty big deal.
What makes that reveal even cooler is that, in a fantastic bit of linewide synergy, Darth Vader #6, on sale at the same time as this issue, features its own take on this scene. The basics are the same: Fett announces he failed in capturing Luke but gives Vader his name, Vader responds by angrily Force-cracking a nearby window on his Star Destroyer. But where this issue’s depiction of the event put some distance between the reader and Vader (since, in this series, he is the primary antagonist, and his learning about Luke is thus more about its impact on the book’s heroes than on Vader), in Darth Vader, where he is the protagonist of the series, readers are dropped into Vader’s head as he flashes back to the events of Revenge of the Sith, the full impact of this knowledge washing over him, ending with the realization that Luke’s existence means the Emperor wasn’t entirely truthful in telling Vader he killed Padme at the end of that film, thus immediately cementing him in opposition to his master, something which completely recontextualizes The Empire Strikes Back, where Vader’s desire to overthrow the Emperor isn’t revealed to the very end (and even then is called into question as a possible trick).
I enjoyed Boba Fett in this story more than I thought I would: the fight scene with Luke was well-executed, and making him the agent who informs Vader about Luke works because that role should belong to an actual character from the saga and not some random one created just for that job. That said, I’ll be a-ok if Boba Fett is used sparingly in the comics moving forward. He’ll work a lot better in the new EU if his appearances are rare and impacful, instead of frequent and expected.
This issue features a letter page, always a nice way to end a comic book, even in this age of blogs and message boards and review sites.