Comic Review: Doctor Aphra #22

Published: July 25, 2018
Rating: Rated T
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Penciler: Kev Walker
Cover Artist: Ashley Witter

The Synopsis;

STUCK IN A JUNKYARD JAIL AT WAR. IT CAN’T GET WORSE – RIGHT? I mean, unless you add a vengeful FORCE GHOST. And insane MURDERDROIDS. And a BOR BRAIN-LEECH. And a SENTIENT BIOHAZARD…Surely even rogue archaeologist DOCTOR APHRA can’t find a way to make things even worse. Wrong. Because her current beau and her ex are just about to meet…

The Story;

The third part of The Catastrophe Con begins in deep space, with Tam Posla on the hunt for Doctor Cornelius Evazan. He mentions that once this is complete, his attention will be focused on hunting down Doctor Aphra.

The story then moves to Accresker Jail, where Magna Tolvan is cursing Aphra on-board a TIE fighter. Before she gets too far, Tolvan is shot down by Sana Starros but not before she fires a rocket at Starros and also makes her crash.

Aphra and Lopset are in a wrecked ship, face to face with the force ghost. The ghost is the image of Aphra’s mother and has split apart Aphra’s droid with what looks to be the force. Not believing it is her mother, Aphra fires her blaster at the force ghost, who vanishes. Aphra is then confronted by hook spores, which are highly infectious. Although they are almost indestructible, Lopset and Aphra’s blaster fire makes the fungus retreat.

Before Aphra can claim any prizes from the wrecked ship, she hears noises from outside. Rushing out, Aphra finds Tolvan and Starros in the middle of a blaster fight with each other. As Aphra realises how awkward the situation is, a droid orders them all to disarm and then takes Aphra off for interrogation. In the interrogation room, the Imperials place Aphra in the clutches of a Bor Gullet, called Bor Ifriem. The Bor begins to penetrate Aphra’s mind until Aphra reveals that there are hook spores in the jail.

Within a few short panels, we see Hera Syndulla trying to contact Starros on an update on Aphra’s capture, Posla finding a reference to Aphra’s whereabouts and Triple-Zero listening in on said reference.

The issue concludes back on Accresker Jail and the inmates all being called together. This includes Tolvan and Starros who have dressed to fit in with the prisoners. They are told that as the prison is infected with hook spores, that the jail is on a collision course with a planet…

The Review;

Last week I said that it really felt that this series had found its footing. This issue does not prove me wrong and sets the expectation even higher for. Spurrier has been able to fit an incredible amount into this comic and with the help of Walker, I never felt lost. I have been rather critical of Walker for his artwork in this series, yet in this issue, it all seemed to flow a lot better. There is a lot of action in here and Walker is able to guide the reader through it, something I don’t think he’s done particularly well in previous issues. But this improvement in the art certainly helps the enjoyment of the comic.

The opening scene with Posla is fantastic; the links to the previous story arc and to the Original Trilogy are very welcome. To also feature Ponda Baba’s hand in a jar is just the sort of Easter egg I’d expect from this series. Which leads me to the humour in this comic, which again hits it out of the park. Humour in Star Wars is like walking a tight-rope, too much and it makes the whole thing seem childish, too little and it’s just not Star Wars. Spurrier has always seemed to have a good grasp of this and this issue has many moments that will make you laugh.

This story also expands on the creature of Bor Gullet… well I say Bor Gullet, the one in this issue is Bor Ifriem… I’m using capitals as I think it’s a name?! Is the species Bor Gullet, or Bor? Ok, so there might be a few questions that fans still need answering on this creature, but the expansion about this creature was interesting to see. In Rogue One, we only get a glimpse of what this creature can do, here we get to see what actually occurs in the mind of one of its victims, creepy!

The meeting of Starros and Tolvan was captivating. Each acts very similar to the other, which allows for plenty of humour. I did feel that this part of the story was purposely held back a bit to build up the tension. I’m hoping this means there is a greater focus on this love triangle in the next issue.

There are three things for me that really make Doctor Aphra the series that it has become. First, it links different eras, films, TV series’ of the Star Wars universe together and helps to expand on all of them. Second, it is a series that doesn’t take itself too seriously and has a bit of fun (with humour included). And finally, it is ultimately a love story between Aphra and Tolvan. This issue has all three and weaves them into the story perfectly. This series may have had a shaky start but it has finally found firm ground to stand on. With such a perfect build up, the next issues promise to bring even more of this perfect formula…

Availability;

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.