Warning - This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters.
For the first time in the Disney Star Wars era, Marvel Comics is ramping up a massive crossover event.
War of the Bounty Hunters, which debuted with preludes in May, takes place after The Empire Strikes Back as every major player in the galaxy tails Boba Fett for the ultimate prize: Han Solo. The storyline sees Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra, and Bounty Hunters converge with the War of the Bounty Hunters and several one-shots starring the scum and villainy of the original trilogy.
It turns out Boba Fett's delivery of Han in Carbonite to Jabba the Hutt wasn't as smooth sailing as one would have thought given the final outcome seen in Return of the Jedi. However, this kind of story doesn't come without precedent.
The Legends multimedia project, Shadows of the Empire, is a somewhat similar storyline that bridges the gap between Episodes V and VI in the form of a novel, comics, video games, and even a soundtrack. Though many players from the EU story won't be involved in War of the Bounty Hunters, the canon version of the story has its own slew of characters to throw into the action.
And, one of them is a major surprise, a certain femme fatale that hasn't been since Solo: A Star Wars Story...
QI'RA RETURNS IN WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS
At the conclusion of War of the Bounty Hunters #1, Qi'ra makes a shocking return to the canon.
By the end of the series' first issue, Crimson Dawn has stolen Han Solo from Boba Fett with the group intending to gift the scoundrel to Jabba the Hutt themselves. A party for the event is arranged, and it's revealed that Lady Qi'ra is the crime syndicate's leader.
Emilia Clarke portrayed Qi'ra in live-action in 2018's Solo: A Star Wars Story.
The Solo star can be seen in all her glory below:
WHERE'S QI'RA BEEN, AND WHERE'S HER STORY GOING?
Qi'ra's return is massive.
Given that she survived the events of Solo, it was always a matter of when, not if, Star Wars fans would see her again.
Reports indicated that Emilia Clarke would reprise the role in a Disney+ series starring Maul, presumably picking up where things left off for Crimson Dawn in Solo. The series remains unannounced at the moment as there are so many shows up the pipeline for Lucasfilm including Lando - another Disney+ project that could potentially see the shady survivor return to the screen.
What makes Qi'ra's return in War of the Bounty Hunters so shocking is that it happens in a comic following the events of Star Wars Rebels, in which fans will recall grandpa Maul being found stranded on Malachor and clearly not in control of a crime syndicate. The going assumption was always that Qi'ra would eventually meet her fate at Maul's hand, likely around the same time everything goes wrong for the Zabrak warrior.
With Qi'ra outliving Maul and seemingly leading Crimson Dawn, or whatever's left of it, clearly, the former scrumrat was able to take power after her superior lost control. How that happens will likely be covered in the Maul series, and things will obviously be going differently than many expected (but a Darth Vader vs. Maul fight would be just what the doctor ordered).
So, Qi'ra's still alive after The Empire Strikes Back. Where's she been, and what's she been up to? Those are good questions for another time.
The more pressing matter at hand is why she wanted to get her hands on Han Solo and what her involvement in this story means for the character going forward.
Anyone familiar with Qi'ra is undoubtedly well aware that she and Han were once lovey-dovey, but the former bailed on the latter to climb the ranks of Crimson Dawn and save her flame from a dark fate. Did Qi'ra hear that Boba Fett was in possession of her old friend and secretly wants to rekindle the fire? Or, has time turned her into a colder person, and she really truly does intend to give Han up to Jabba?
It will be interesting to see if Qi'ra and Leia ever come in contact during Marvel's event. Han's ex (of sorts) and his current fiery love interest could make for a unique confrontation at some point, and if Qi'ra still cares about Han in any capacity, she may be willing to give him up to someone he's now devoted to. Obviously, things won't be ending well for Qi'ra as she won't be maintaining possession of Solo for long - at the end of the day, Boba Fett will be victorious.
But, that doesn't mean Qi'ra has to die. In fact, bringing her back for War of the Bounty Hunters seems like the beginning of her new journey, not the end of an old one. A character with as much baggage as Qi'ra has a lot to offer to Star Wars, and killing her off in a comic series would be a disservice to the character and franchise.
What will be Qi'ra's ultimate fate? Does she survive the War of the Bounty Hunters? And, if so, will Crimson Dawn prosper once more under her control? Could there come a day when Qi'ra meets Ben Solo?
The possibilities are limitless for Emilia Clarke's character, and War of the Bounty Hunters has just opened up the door for anything to happen. Lucasfilm clearly isn't done with Qi'ra - not by a long shot - and Star Wars fans will certainly watch as her story continues to unfold with great interest.