A ROGUE’S END PART 2: THE DARK LORD FALTERS…DOCTOR APHRA’s reunion with her FATHER would’ve be a happy affair – if he wasn’t a pompous blowhard set to take her job as the Empire’s chief archaeologist. Of course, her dear old dad will have to survive Imperial Interrogation first, and which pair of charming psycho-droids do you suppose DARTH VADER has hired for the job? And what happens when the ancient stones of a long-lost Jedi Temple cast their ghostly influence upon the Dark Lord of the Sith himself…?
Well let’s all give a huge sigh of relief. Yes, this series of Doctor Aphra is coming to an end but we know that for this character, it’s far from over! That said, this will be the end of Spurrier’s rendition of the character. Although this deeply saddens me, it also means that Spurrier is now in the process of trying to tie (almost) everything together. I’m expecting surprises, familiar faces and some loose ends sorted…
From the outset, you can tell that this is gearing up to a finale. The return of so many characters from the series is wonderful and I’m sure all will be in the thick of it by the last issue. We knew about Aphra’s dad last issue, but here we really get to know him better. I wish I could say I like the character, however, just like Aphra, I find him really annoying! To me, that’s the point though, he is suppose to be that character that gives us the cringe factor, that we just want to shout, ‘shut up!’ every time he ruins something that might have helped him and his daughter. I say this not as a negative, but a positive. He also brings to the story a lot of emotion, emotion that we rarely see with Aphra. She cares for him, after everything, Aphra is willing to admit that she’s needed her dad. The emotional pay off near the end of the issue is done very well, and for all his naïveté, it’s good to see that her dad can still be a true father figure to her.
Then let’s here the joyous cheers for our returning droids, Beetee and Triple Zero! Oh how I’ve missed them. Spurrier has decided to have their memories erased. I wasn’t sure about this when I initially read it, but the more into the issue you go, the better they become. Without the baggage of the previous arcs weighing them down, they are able to function just like they did in the original Darth Vader series. The humour, the plain enjoyment of causing pain, it works so well.
Finally, we have Tolvan back, and she’s out for blood. I’m glad that she has come back in this issue, I was worried it wouldn’t be till much later in the arc. So she’s after Aphra’s blood, but we all know that she won’t kill the woman she loves. I just can’t wait to see where Spurrier goes with this. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the relationship between Aphra and Tolvan is one of the most believable, enduring relationships in the Star Wars universe, giving a very ‘Ross/Rachael’ kind of vibe. It would not be right for Spurrier to end his run without her in, although I have a suspicious feeling I’m going to be frustrated with the outcome for this pair.
Along with the characters returning, Spurrier allows one to exit, Vulaada. Aphra places her on a planet for her own good; it’s easy to draw the comparison between this and Aphra’s mum taking her away. I think this is the right move for Spurrier to have made. I don’t feel much of a connection with Vulaada and, particularly near the end, I want to see those characters that were with us at the start of the series. Vulaada would take up valuable space away from these characters, which at the moment is what this series needs. She’s not gone for good and I do wonder if she’s been placed there ready for the new series next year.
With all these great characters returning, you would think it would be easy to forget the best part of this comic, Vader. He steals the show for me again. He is an overarching shadow over everything that is happening. He doesn’t say much, we don’t see too much of him, but he makes one heck of an impact. He goes through his own small journey and has to face his own demons of the past. It only takes a few panels, but it stays with you.
And from that point I should move to the art. Let me forget the rest of the issue and talk about those scenes with Vader and confronting his past. Wow! My jaw dropped. That first panel with the smoke on the ground was incredible. Vader is barely detailed, almost a shadow. It was like looking at a panel from Tim Sale’s Batman and that’s exactly how Vader should be. As the scene progresses it still keeps to a bare minimum and then we’re treated to a montage of the characters from Vader’s past. It is done with such precision that it brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. Wijngaard outdoes himself here and is begging to be given a Vader story. Yes the rest of the issue looks great, but that scene, that scene is something else entirely.
This issue is a basic story in some respects and is more a catalyst for bringing back the main characters of the series. It’s good to know that they will all be a part of this, though how is a different matter. Spurrier, as always, is keeping his cards close to his chest and I’m very excited to see how this will all end. The artwork this week is magnificent and really shows Vader at his best. It will be sad to see this rollercoaster of a series end, but I bet it’s going to be one hell of an ending!
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.