Rogue archaeologist Doctor Aphra may be in over her head…but at least she’s not alone! Er…let’s hope they’re friendly!
This issue begins with Lieutenant Magna Tolvan waking up in an Imperial cell and being told that due to her having received three demerits, she is to be executed. Immediately, the door is blown open and Doctor Aphra walks in. The two characters lean in to kiss each other before Tolvan is awoken in a cell and we realise that the last few frames have all been Tolvan’s dreaming. The door to the cell is opened and a Stormtrooper is waiting to take Tolvan to be executed.
On Son-Tuul, we find Triple Zero talking to Doctor Aphra by hologram, explaining that he would like to know of his origins and that this is the reason they are sending her on the next mission. Aphra is walking through a town holding a Tooka she has cloned as she pushes her boundaries with Triple Zero, saying she could just run away. Triple Zero threatens her by saying he will tell Darth Vader that she is still alive. Aphra states that he wouldn’t do that. As Aphra approaches the transport, she is informed that inside are a group of mercenaries. It is Aphra’s job to pick from the group the team she wishes to take. One of these members is non-negotiable; a Skakoan called Haalio Bas. While deciding who she needs to leave behind, Triple Zero has called the Imperials on Aphra because Aphra doubted he would (there’s some logic there!). Stormtroopers surround the transport.
At an Imperial outpost, Tolvan is in front of a group of stormtroopers who are ready to execute her. Before they can fire, an officer interrupts, saying that Tolvan has been reassigned to the Inspectorate. Due to the destruction on Scarif, the order has been delayed by a few months. Tolvan is free to go.
Back on Son-Tuul, one of the mercenaries has stopped the stormtroopers but not before he realises that Aphra has decided to leave him behind! The transport is heading for Skako Minor, to raid the home of Wat Tambor. Bas is to be their guide, which is why he had to be present on the team. However, the team are soon betrayed by Bas to the Imperials. With seemingly no hope, Aphra mutters a code phrase which detonates the Tooka. With no Imperials left, Aphra and her team are free.
Tolvan is now on Coruscant and trying to access records about Aphra, however all the files have been deleted. When she searches for who deleted them, Tolvan is shocked to find it is none other than Darth Vader…
This issue brings a much welcome return to the black humour that was done so well in the Darth Vader series. Triple Zero is on excellent form here and his lines are superb. It is very interesting to see a droid so intrigued by his origins and I do hope that through the series we can learn how he was created and turned into the villain he has become. As well as this intrigue, Triple Zero is also a huge wild card in the story. He is so unpredictable that you can never guess where the story will go next. The fear of Vader that he uses on Aphra I think is brilliant. Not only does it make sense for Aphra to be under his control because of it, it also reminds the reader that Vader is scary, that for even someone like Aphra, he is not to be messed with. It is easy to think of Vader as the villain who was redeemed, but I love seeing how just his name can make someone tremble.
The links to the rest of the Star Wars universe were very well handled. The effects of Rogue One can be seen in this comic, with the delay in communications across the Empire. It’s a very thought-out idea, one I hope may show itself again in other stories. The link to the Clone Wars era with Wat Tambor is also a welcome move by the writers.
The other element of the story that I’m really enjoying is the attraction between Aphra and Tolvan. In some of the other areas of the timeline, it feels like homosexual characters have been placed within the story for the sake of it; it feels extremely forced. Not so here. The attraction between the two is handled with precision and the emerging love story captivating. It’s good to see it being handled so well.
This issue shows just how brilliant the writing and artistry in Aphra can be. This series certainly seems to be improving every week. In previous issues, the artwork has been below par in my opinion, and this has not helped the story. I hope the combination of the writers and artists can remain, as the artwork really helps to bring the story alive (well you think for a comic that would be obvious…). Only time will tell if this series can continue this excellent run and I’ll be there, eagerly awaiting each issue…
Doctor Aphra is an ongoing series available from Marvel. This issue is available via the Marvel App and all good comic book stores. This issue retails at $3.99.