Star Wars bounty hunter Beilert Valance shows that he can navigate an asteroid field even better than Han Solo did in The Empire Strikes Back.
Warning! Spoilers for Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #12 ahead!
Han Solo may be one of the best pilots in the Star Wars universe, but old ally Beilert Valance just proved he can navigate an asteroid field even better than Han did in The Empire Strikes Back. Valance is a cyborg bounty hunter who first met Han back when they were both in the Imperial Academy and flew TIE Fighter missions together. As the Star Wars comics begin the massive War of the Bounty Hunters crossover event with everyone on the hunt for Han Solo’s frozen carbonite body, Valance puts himself in a dangerous situation to help his friend, and shows that he might be an even better pilot.
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In one of the most exciting sequences in The Empire Strikes Back, Han and his friends are on the run from Darth Vader and take refuge in an asteroid field in an attempt to escape. While Threepio insists that the odds against surviving in an asteroid field are astronomically high, Han shows that his skills as a pilot are strong enough to overcome any odds. While he ends up hiding the Millennium Falcon in the mouth of a giant space worm, they are able to escape this new threat and fly away to safety.
In Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #12 by Ethan Sacks, Paolo Villanelli, Arif Prianto and Travis Lanham, Beilert flies into an asteroid field under circumstances that are perhaps even more dire. He has formed a shaky alliance with fellow bounty hunter Dengar and is attempting to track down Boba Fett so he can rescue Han. The two of them are quickly located by the bounty hunting team of Zuckus and 4-LOM, who are attempting to collect a bounty on a little girl who Beilert is protecting. With few options left, and against the protestations of Dengar, Valance flies directly into an asteroid field in an attempt to escape. However, his pursuers follow them closely, firing at Beilert’s ship. These bounty hunters are much more dangerous and motivated than the TIE Fighters chasing Han in Empire. In addition, rather than having to deal with just one space worm, Valance has to dodge multiple giant worms attacking from all angles. Beilert does take a couple hits from Zuckus’ ship, but given the heightened circumstances it’s still an impressive feat of flying.
It’s not a surprise that Han and Beilert are both able to fly through asteroid fields, as they came up in the Academy together and learned their flying skills at the same time. Han once rescued Valance during a mission that left Beilert critically injured and in need of cybernetic enhancements. While these enhancements could have possibly aided him and made him able to fly in this dangerous situation, he is also highly motivated to survive. He is not only trying to protect a young girl from the bounty hunters pursuing him, he also wants to help Han, to whom he owes a great debt.
Han would probably say that Beilert got lucky in this situation, and point out that Valance is not flying a ship with mechanical problems that the Millennium Falcon had in The Empire Strikes Back. Because Valance has not made any on-screen appearances and is primarily featured in the Star Wars comics, it is unknown if he and Han Solo ever meet up again and put their piloting skills to the test against each other. One thing that’s known for sure is that even though he can navigate an asteroid field, it’s doubtful that even Beilert Valance would be able to make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.
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