"Bounty Hunters #9: The Terminus Gauntlet, Part II: Squadron of One" by Ethan Sacks
As this series goes, this issue was pretty darn good! It was very cut and dry, streamlined for easy understanding, and even included one special surprise that left me absolutely delighted!!! The lesson from this is that when bad things happen in a comic that seem insensitive and meaningless, there might just be a reason and a plan for it all to come together for the good in the end! This issue had action, heart, and some quite funny ironic dialogue involving Valance. I'm getting excited about this series now and look forward to seeing where it goes from here.
Last issue we saw Valance take on a mission from the Rebels to repay them for revealing one of their hidden bases. His job was to help rescue a stranded Rebel ship...but upon his arrival it was being bombarded by a fleet of Weequay pirates, none other than the Ohnaka Gang!! sans Hondo though which kinda takes the wind out of those exciting sails. Dengar is working with the pirates to repay a debt he owes them and he recognizes Valance's ship, claiming to be the only bounty hunter who's bested the cyborg and thus talking himself up in the pirates' eyes.
Having been surprised by the pirate presence around the Rebel ship, Valance's ship, the Broken Wing, sustains heavy damage and he crash lands onto the Rebel vessel. Despite his truthful claim that he was sent by Rebels to help this group, the leader, Commander Hill Purpura, won't hear it and slams Valance in the brig which is where the ironic dialogue comes into play. Purpura says, "What do you know about duty? About being willing to sacrifice your life for a greater cause?" Valance's response? "Too much." And I would definitely concur!! He's sacrificing his life everyday right now to save the girl Cadeliah from the Unbroken Clan's usurper Vukorah. Later, Private Blanch Sproull says to Valance, "I joined the Rebellion because I believed in the cause...well, that and I wanted to get off my mining planet. Eh, you wouldn't understand." Again Valance responds with a rebut, "You'd be surprised." Not only was he born on a mining planet and wanted to join Imperial service to escape it, but he is currently doing everything he can to support a cause that he believes in in keeping Cadeliah safe!
Despite all of this distrust and disbelief in the goodness of Valance's intentions, he still does what he can to save the day against the pirates!! Purpura just wants to surrender and give up, but Valance will have none of it, convinces Sproull to let him out of the brig, takes the lone X-wing on the ship for a spin (hence "Squadron of One"), and valiantly shoots up as many pirate ships as he can! In a bid to trick the pirates into thinking he's given up and run off, he sends the X-wing into hyperspace but himself stays behind on the hull of the Rebel ship, ready to infiltrate and take down the pirates in person! I am so loving this brave, courageous, principled man that Valance has become! He's a role model character that anyone can look up to and an example of how people can change when life deals you some hard knocks. The character development across series is simply spectacular!
And then the surprise!!! T'onga ISN'T dead!!!! Her wife, Losha Tarkon, arrives on Ruusan where it turns out T'onga is being kept alive by all manner of tubes and apparatuses. Boba Fett's shot didn't hit any of her vital organs and she somehow managed to get away from the exploding ship in an escape pod! Yay!! I am so incredibly excited about this! The queer character was NOT killed off within the first few issues and she will live to fight another day. I can't wait to see where her story goes from here!
As a quick side note before I go, we flashback to Qhulosk where Valance sustained his injuries at the end of his Imperial naval career (seen originally in the "Imperial Cadet" short-run comic series)...but he doesn't seem all that beat up. I'm really confused as to how the injuries shown in these panels translate to him becoming a full on cyborg...weird.
So, this was absolutely a fun issue, was super easy to follow, continued some fabulous character development, was visually engaging, and gave me a warm fuzzy with T'onga's reappearance. I have to say I'm quite pleased with the direction this series is currently headed.
SCORE: 8/10 definitely a better issue than some of the others in this series so far!
"Bounty Hunters #9: The Terminus Gauntlet, Part II: Squadron of One" written by Ethan Sacks, illustrated by Paolo Villanelli and Arif Prianto
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