SPOILER REVIEW "Bounty Hunters 10: The Terminus Gauntlet, Part 3: A Desperate Gambit" by Ethan Sacks
Oh my goodness!!! This was such an epic issue!! Remember how I said this series was picking up speed, well that is just all the more true after today's entry. We have intrigue, action, horror, romance, and well, I wouldn't call it outright humor per se, but I definitely found myself laughing aloud with delight several times! I just can't say enough about how incredibly good this issue was. Because of the nature of this issue, there will be major spoilers in this review. I'll be sure and note down below when the spoilers are coming.
So Valance...whoo boy is this man terrifying! There are multiple moments throughout the story where he just pops up out of nowhere and kills the people in front of him almost before they have any clue what is happening. And his bright red electronic eye peering through the dark doesn't hurt the horror aesthetic. At the very beginning of the issue we get a flashback to Valance's time with the Empire right after he sustained his woeful injuries. He's shown with an amputated leg and is being told that that surgery was done because of infection setting in. After the medical officer tells him that his rank of cadet doesn't qualify him for cybernetics coverage, Valance says that he'll pay for the enhancements himself and that he just wants to get back into the cockpit and keep flying for the Imperial navy. Unfortunately, the medical officer isn't impressed, "There is no way that the Empire would entrust a failure like you with a TIE-fighter ever again. Your incompetence put the mission in danger. The best you can hope for is an infantry slot--" Yikes!! Needless to say, Valance nearly beats the man to death with the med-droid watching over him. Han shows up and although Valance is cruel and demeaning at first, he ends up thanking his fellow cadet for saving his life...only to find he's thanking an empty room. But will that gratitude linger into the present??
The present storyline at its most basic is that Valance is going after Weequay pirates who have boarded a Rebel vessel, taking them down with a calculated and determined air. As you may remember, these Weequay are, in name at least, the Ohnaka Gang and are run by Skragg who it turns out is actually a female. Although she's a bad guy, I still love the idea of a vicious pirate "queen"! And when I say vicious, this woman is ready to kill anyone at a moment's notice. She's also about fed up with Dengar and his secretive antics...she wants answers and she wants results. At one point, two of the pirates have a wonderfully reminiscent conversation when one says, "This was supposed to be an easy job...makes me miss the days when Hondo was in charge." To which the other replies, "Bah, you're not old enough to remember all the trouble he got us into." Hahaha! I can only imagine.
As mentioned in my review of the last issue, T'onga is still alive!!! And her girlfriend Losha has located her on Ruusan where one of the men who watched over Nakano Lash has been nursing T'onga back to health. Losha just wants to return to their farm on the moon of Logal Ri, but T'onga has now changed her mission mindset and wants to take out Nakano Lash's killers (her original mission was to kill Nakano...before she knew the truth behind it all). Losha agrees to help T'onga on her hunt and they share a beautifully romantic kiss just before the man who's been watching over her offers up his nexu to help them in the fight!! Craziness! ...but it seems the nexu has taken a shine to T'onga. I love this so much. And it just goes to show that you can't make snap judgements about art until you begin to take in the bigger picture. Case in point, the queer characters are still alive and well, leaving me with so much joy.
MAJOR SPOILERS BEGIN HERE:
Private Sproull, the female Rebel with short red hair, manages to escape from her bindings and she is one bada** lady, kicking butt and taking names. She even discovers sabotage has occurred to the hyperdrive. In other words, someone purposefully made it easier for the pirates to commandeer the Spirit of Jedha. Who might that be??? Turns out it's the Rebel Commander himself, Hill Purpura...and he's working with Dengar!! Apparently he and the bandaged bounty hunter grew up as friends on Corellia and used to swoop race each other. Now, he's ready to sell secret Rebel info to the highest bidder because as he puts it to Valance, "You don't know what it's like to be indoctrinated to believe in this great hope...and find out it's all hopeless." Goodness, that's dark.
If you thought all of the above sounded awesome, get a load of this: We get several connections to other series throughout. There's Valance's reference to "Target Vader" with "I guess I do hold grudges--like when a hunter on my crew sold me out to Darth Vader."--clearly referencing Dengar himself. There's of course the back story at the beginning which connects to "Han Solo: Imperial Cadet." And then we get this tidbit from Dengar, "Just my luck. First I lose out on the Han Solo bounty to that damn Boba Fett--who's probably already got the carbonite to Jabba by now...then I run into the one pirate I owed money...then you--" which sets us up nicely for the future cross-series storyline of the carbonite-encased Han Solo making his way to Jabba since we see a focused Valance with an unconscious Dengar zooming away...
I cannot wait to see how everything becomes interconnected even further once that mission begins!!! Because goodness they are already doing a bang up job of cross-series connection as is. Not in a million years would I have thought having 4 ongoing series all in the same time period being published at the same time in the real world would have been a good idea or even would have begun to work well. I was absolutely proven wrong on that point!!
"Bounty Hunters 10: The Terminus Gauntlet, Part 3: A Desperate Gambit" written by Ethan Sacks, illustrated by Paolo Villanelli and Arif Prianto
SCORE 9/10 - I mean this one was stellar!!
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