BROKEN, INSIDE BEGINS NOW! Aphra is behind bars. Again. But this time, she finds herself in Imperial custody, strapped to an explosive transmitter synced to a single hub-droid. Take one step too far? KABLOOEY! Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue to sit still for Aphra – but what happens when her Imperial captors send her hub-droid to the middle of a war zone? And, uh, what’s this rumour about the prison being haunted?
Part One of The Catastrophe Con begins approximately one month after the events of the last issue. The scenes are narrated by Doctor Aphra, who is being interrogated by some Imperials (although at this stage of the comic, we don’t know who). Aphra has been sent to Accresker Jail, a huge mess of wrecked ships that are held together to form a prison ship. The prisoners are used by the Empire and we see that Aphra and her ‘squad’ of inmates are to board a stranded Rebel ship. To keep the prisoners in line, each squad has a hub-droid (which looks like a modified K2 droid). If the prisoners get too far away from the droid, they will explode.
During the boarding, we find that Aphra has somehow modified her squad’s hub-droid, which causes the droid to explode, killing all of Aphra’s squad, apart from herself and an alien called Lopset Yas. Yas begins to panic, as the loss of the hub-droid should mean that they too will explode for not being near one. However, a modified Dek-Nil (a droid that formed a part of Aphra’s team in the last arc) comes to the rescue, posing as a hub-droid. Aphra, Nil and Yas begin to look for a way out.
The story briefly moves to Son-Tuul spaceport, where Beetee is asking Triple-Zero if he is angry with Aphra. Triple-Zero quietens the droid saying he isn’t angry, but it is soon clear he is as he has murdered a shockingly large amount of people at the spaceport.
The action returns to Aphra, where her group have conveniently found an intact escape pod. Before they can jump on-board, Dek-Nil’s restraining bolt glows, causing the droid to blow the pod up. Before she can ask any questions, Aphra appears to see a force ghost who states that, “Justice is the force, and the force is justice.” The figure disappears as quickly as he came, leaving Aphra bemused.
The story then jumps forward to Aphra being interrogated about the events by two Imperial officers (this is the narration we’ve been hearing). The officers realise that Aphra is hiding something but can’t work out what. Not knowing what to do, the officers return Aphra to her cell where she finds Yas waiting. With him he has a transmitter he has scavenged and he gives it to Aphra in the hope she might be able to save them both. Aphra dials for Sana Starros…
I have always found Aphra to be a bit hit and miss, although lately there has been far more consistency with the story lines. However, I still get nervous when a new arc begins. Thankfully, this issue has put most of my fears to rest.
The issue starts with Aphra being interviewed and this narrates the whole comic. Although this is not the most original of ideas, it is the first time it has been utilised here, and utilised well. The whole style reminds me of detective noir stories and really draws the reader in. It also helps with the setting being so drastically different to anything that we’ve seen before. The concept of a ship made up of wrecked ships is interesting and I love how the prisoners are used to do the Empire’s bidding.
One of the most interesting aspects of this issue is the force ghost, or at least what I’m assuming is a force ghost. The fact that so little is mentioned of him/her or that we are given no clues as to who it is instantly makes me want to read future issues and find out.
The other interesting aspect of this comic, and for the future storylines in Aphra, is reintroducing Sana Starros. It has been hinted in other issues that Starros and Aphra were once romantically linked. With the continuing romance of Aphra and Tolvan, I’m really hoping this is to set the way for a love triangle between the three to cause even more friction with the characters.
Although not the most thrilling of issues, this comic does a great job of setting the groundwork for the rest of the story arc. After a few misses in the past, it looks like this new storyline will create some stability for the series and really focus on its core aspect, Aphra. Also creating the potential for yet more friction between Aphra and Tolvan (the most compelling part of the series) is a smart move by Spurrier. I wait for part two, quietly optimistic that it will build on the excellent foundations set by this 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.