Longtime fans will surely be hoping that Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise will capitalize on the strong reception of Andor as The Mandalorian — Disney+’s flagship series — finally makes its return early next month with season 3. The latter series gave a refreshing look at the vast Star Wars universe through the lens of a gritty amalgamation of the sci-fi and Western genres.
Din Djarin and Grogu’s one-off and overarching bounty hunter-themed adventures show the creativity Star Wars is capable of, but the franchise has similarly engaging exploits off the screen as well. From comic books to novels, bounty hunters and the crime syndicates of the galaxy make for some worthwhile side stories sure to satisfy invested fans of the space opera. From Legends tales from the likes of Dark Horse Comics to mainline Disney-era canon under Marvel Comics, there are several fitting bounty hunter books to prepare for The Mandalorian season 3.
The Mandalorian (2022-present)
Given the groundbreaking success of The Mandalorian when it premiered in 2019, it was only a matter of time before Din Djarin and Grogu’s exploits transitioned to the comic book realm in some form or another. That’s especially so since there is no shortage of supplementary Star Wars tales under Marvel Comics’ publishing.
Star Wars: The Mandalorian won’t be anything new for audiences well-versed in the show, as the ongoing series is a straightforward adaptation of season 1 by writer Rodney Barnes and Georges Jeanty. It begins with the pulpy, Clint Eastwood-like bounty hunter wandering the galaxy for jobs until his fateful encounter with the mysterious child. Nonetheless, this series will make a fine addition to any avid Star Wars fan’s collection, and it’s a faithful and engaging new way to experience one of the best ongoing sci-fi series on TV.
Tales of the Bounty Hunters (1996)
Formerly known as the Star Wars Extended Universe, the Legends continuity features swaths of alternative stories that can vary wildly in terms of quality depending on where you look. However, Tales of the Bounty Hunters was a book that enjoyed strong critical reception in the sci-fi genre back in the mid-to-late ’90s.
The book is an anthology comprised of five short stories, each revolving around the bounty hunters looking to track down Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back. The format proved to be to its advantage, with the various viewpoints making for fascinating storytelling devices. And though it’s non-canon to the main timeline now, Tales of the Bounty Hunters intriguingly fleshes out the characters that were merely background dressing in the movies.
War of the Bounty Hunters (2021)
Another one of the most recent Star Wars comics under Marvel publishing, War of the Bounty Hunters is a grand-scale battle stemming from the galactic underworld that lives up to its name. This crossover event miniseries tied together other comic book series (Darth Vader, Star Wars, Bounty Hunters, and Doctor Aphra) and was kicked off when Jabba the Hutt put out a hit on Boba Fett, thinking the bounty hunter betrayed him by selling the carbonite-frozen Han Solo.
This story arc was well-received as an exciting new side story worthy of taking place in the Original Trilogy timeline — between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi — and did well to incorporate some newer faces introduced in the Disney-era canon. It’s also one of the most compelling modern Boba Fett stories available, regardless of the medium.
Blood Ties – A Tale of Jango and Boba Fett (2011)
With Star Wars exploding across media even before the Disney acquisition, the Legends continuity also saw various comic book series, with Dark Horse Comics being one of the most prominent publishers of the time. Written by comic book veteran Tom Taylor and illustrated by Chris Scalf, Blood Ties – A Tale of Jango and Boba Fett served as the initial story arc for the overall series.
Both Jango and Boba Fett were fan-favorite characters from the wider Star Wars franchise, despite being featured so sparingly in the Skywalker Saga, but this was a welcome storyline to flesh out each of the character profiles. And in addition to making these battle-hardened guns for hire more well-rounded, Scalf’s stunning painting-like artwork is guaranteed to immerse readers.
Crimson Reign (2022)
Though not strictly bounty hunter-focused, Charles Soule and Steven Cummings’ Crimson Reign limited series is the natural follow-up to War of the Bounty Hunters and is well worth the read. In the aftermath of the aforementioned crossover event, the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate led by Lady Qi’ra — played by Emilia Clarke in Solo: A Star Wars Story — engages in a high-stakes altercation with the Empire amid the growing Rebel Alliance.
There’s some bounty interaction to be had, but what makes Crimson Reign such a tantalizing story is its focus on a greater piece of the dark galactic underworld — and how the likes of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine become intertwined with it. It’s a story with plenty of satisfying revelations, as well as an exciting newfound focal point in the form of Qi’ra. Crimson Reign shows that even in the timeline explored on Disney+, such a series would be a proper examination of Star Wars’ realms of organized crime.
Shadows of the Empire (1996)
Once again in the realm of Legends under Dark Horse Comics’ publication, the Star Wars franchise saw a significant multimedia campaign in 1996 spanning comics, novels, gaming, and more. The aim was to tell a movie-scale story outside of the theatrical medium, with the Shadows of the Empire comic book series, written by John Wagner and illustrated by Kilian Plunkett, focusing on Boba Fett’s ventures during the events of the novel of the same name.
Also set between Empire and Jedi, Shadows of the Empire sees a tense race to capture Luke Skywalker. Vader wants him alive, but Prince Xizor, the galaxy’s largest trader, wants him dead. All the while, the group of heroes is trying to rescue the encased Han from Fett, as the latter looks to deliver him to Jabba the Hutt. The series was well-received for toying around with new characters and ideas, while simultaneously fitting well within the timeline.
Season 3 of Lucasfilm’s The Mandalorian will premiere on March 1 on Disney+ and will run for eight episodes.
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