Who was Boba Fett working for during the original Star Wars trilogy? Was he being paid by Darth Vader? Jabba the Hutt? Was Fett double-dipping? A new comic book miniseries will bravely reopen a complicated can of Star Wars canon and delve into Fett's various allegiances, and hopefully, fill in the strange question of the famous bounty hunter's employment status throughout the classic Star Wars trilogy.
War of the Bounty Hunters will almost certainly answer the question of Boba Fett's employment status, and in the process, probably set up The Book of Boba Fett. There's just one catch: '90s Star Wars comic book fans will have to endure the death of yet another Expanded Universe storyline.
What is War of the Bounty Hunters?
Announced on StarWars.com, War of the Bounty Hunters is a five-part miniseries that will span several ongoing Star Wars comic book titles, including Doctor Aphra, Darth Vader, Bounty Hunters, and the ongoing post-Empire Strikes Back series, too. StarWars.com superlatively calls it "the biggest Star Wars story Marvel has told thus far," which feels exciting if a little bit misleading.
The concept behind the series is to chart the journey of Boba Fett from Cloud City to Jabba's Palace. Everyone knows that Boba Fett took Han Solo's frozen body of carbonite straight to Tatooine after he left Bespin, but what this comic book miniseries presupposes is — maybe he didn't?
"Boba Fett is in possession of Han Solo at the end of Empire Strikes Back, and at the beginning of War of the Bounty Hunters, he is not," says Charles Soule, the long-time Star Wars writer overseeing the new series. StarWars.com also has included some images from the first issue which seems to show some kind of carbonite switcharoo? Did Bib Fortuna try to cheat Boba Fett? If so, why?
The purpose of War of the Bounty Hunters is, in theory, to demonstrate that a lot of people have an interest in snagging Fett's cargo. In the StarWars.com article, Soule says "It's basically Boba Fett, by himself, against all of these people... Jabba the Hutt. It’s Black Sun. It’s Darth Vader. And a bunch of others..."
This begs a more interesting question: How much time passes between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi?
The conventional answer to that question is one year. And that's because Empire happens in 3 ABY and Jedi happens in 4 ABY. So, in theory, there's an entire year in between these two movies for a ton of Star Wars stories to take place. Boba Fett trying to keep ahold of Han Solo, could, in theory, just be one part of this era.
Hasn't this happened before? What about Xizor?
Indeed it has. In 1996, Dark Horse Comics published the Shadows of the Empire miniseries which depicted, among other things, Boba Fett on the run from other competing bounty hunters — including IG-88 — who were all trying to rip-off his Han Solo cargo.
Like the impending War of the Bounty Hunters, the Shadows of the Empire comics (and novel) were set in the gap year in-between Empire and Jedi. Like the multi-platform project The High Republic, Shadows of the Empire was the biggest '90s Star Wars event prior to the special editions of the classic films. At one point, (as immortalized in the comedy film Free Enterprise) you could only find Shadows of the Empire toys at toy stores because the entire line effectively replaced regular Star Wars merch for over a full year.
So, yes, the basic concept of War of the Bounty Hunters isn't remotely new. The difference is of course, that this version will be considered canon, whereas Shadows of the Empire isn't. Soule doesn't mention Shadows in this interview, but he does namecheck Black Sun, the criminal organization that was created for Shadows of the Empire, and remains canon, even though its leader, Prince Xizor is not canon.
Will War of the Bounty Hunters reconcile or borrow from similar storylines in Shadows of the Empire? Maybe, maybe not. But you never know. Nobody thought Thrawn would be canon in 2016, but look where we are now. Could Xizor make a comeback?
Who was paying Boba Fett?
Famously, Boba Fett tells Vader that Han Solo "is no good to me dead." But who is paying Boba Fett? Clearly, Vader hired Boba Fett to track down Han Solo in Empire, but the Star Wars special edition of A New Hope established that Fett was working for Jabba the Hutt way before that. Boba Fett is basically guarding Jabba the Hutt in A New Hope, so it's not totally clear what kind of gig he had at that time. Furthermore, Boba Fett is hanging around Jabba's Palace just like chilling out a full year after the events of The Empire Strikes Back?
But why? Was Jabba his boss? Did he have beef with Bib Fortuna? In the Mandalorian Season 2 post-credits scene, we see Boba just full-on murder Bib. Presumably, he's mad because they all left him for dead in the Sarlaac Pit, but is there more to it? Fett's relationship with Jabba is murky right now, which is part of the reason why War of the Bounty Hunters could get really interesting. If Boba Fett was working for Jabba full-time, it seems like that fact could play into the Book of Boba Fett in a huge way.
But then again, if Jabba tried to betray Fett during the transition of Han to Tatooine, we gotta wonder why Fett decided to chill at the palace. War of the Bounty Hunters could illuminate Boba Fett's secret motivations and set-up his big Disney+ series at the same time. It's a little weird that Marvel is blatantly writing over Shadows of the Empire — and not even mentioning it — but, the upshot is that this miniseries could be amazing and make the next Disney+ Star Wars show even better.
As Boba Fett said on Cloud City, "As you wish."
The War of the Bounty Hunters launches in May.