Released On: 5 September 2018
Rating: Rated T
Writer: Si Spurrier
Penciler: Caspar Wijngaard
Cover Artist: Caspar Wijngaard

The synopsis:

One’s a cyborg with a bad attitude, the other’s a cold-blooded reptile. They’re happily married. They’ve been hired by a mysterious contact to bag an ultra-deadly monster from the heart of an ancient temple. N.B.: For “mysterious contact” read DOCTOR APHRA, who — and this will shock you — is definitely up to something. N.B.: For “happily married” read THIS IS GOING TO GET MESSY.

The story;

The annual opens on a nameless planet that can only be identified by a designated number. On the planet, we find a female Trandoshan and male human arguing like any normal married couple. The man carries a droid on his back and is apologising to his wife for the pickpocketing program he installed as it did not work quite as expected. Before the discussion can descent into too much inappropriate talk, the two get a call from their client, Doctor Aphra?

Aphra explains that she has hired them on behalf of a client, who is interested in a deadly monster. She appeals to the fact that the couple aren’t on any top lists for beast hunters and that this could put them on the map. As her boss wants this as his own pet monster, she tells the couple that she wants this beast alive, so no blasters. Aphra then begins to guide the couple through an ancient temple, telling them to avoid obstacles that are built in to protect an idol. Due to having researched the temple herself, she knows where all the traps are. The couple quickly realise that Aphra has hired other beast hunters but these have all been killed trying to capture this monster.

After travelling through the temple, the couple finally reach the lair of the monster. They find one of the top beast hunters, a Twi’lek, on deaths door, having had his lekku eaten by the creature. They use him to bring the creature closer. The Trandoshan understands that the creature is blind and navigates by sound. She sends her talkative husband off to lure the monster away. With the beast distracted, she is able to incapacitate it. Before the couple can start to move the creature, the Twi’lek kills it.

Although the monster is dead, it still moves. Aphra blasts her way out of the monster. We find out that Aphra was after an artifact and got eaten whole so she called the beast hunters to come and rescue her. Without money to pay them, Aphra flies off using a jet pack, leaving the couple alone. The husband shows his wife that his robotic pickpocketing program does work as he has lifted the artifact off Aphra, so it has not been a total loss for them.

The Review;

If you read my review of Poe Dameron Annual 2, you will know I don’t like the annuals. They never seem to be up to the standard set by the regular series. I was very surprised when starting to read this annual, that Si Spurrier was the writer. Spurrier has really found the winning formula for the Doctor Aphra series and the storylines have shown tremendous improvement. With him writing the annual, this consistency has continued, giving us one of the best Star Wars annuals I have read. This comic keeps the humour, the atmosphere and the tone of the standard series, ensuring fans will enjoy it.

Aphra is not the centre of attention here, instead it is a married couple called Winloss and Nokk. I was very surprised to find that it was a Trandoshan and a human, although with what we’ve seen in Doctor Aphra this perhaps should not have come so much as a shock. This has always been a series that pushes the boundaries of what we think we know about the galaxy. It is a very different sort of marriage to what we expect in Star Wars and I for one loved it. The opening scene was full of humour and the interaction between the two was very well written. At times, I thought it was amazingly close to the real life interactions of couples.

As I’ve come to expect from this series, there were a few links to other areas of the galaxy. The opening crawl including Princess Leia’s words was a nice touch. The other link I really felt here was Indiana Jones. Aphra has always been advertised as Jones’ Star Wars counterpart and I really felt it here. But in true Aphra fashion, she hires the job out.

The temple set up I thought was great, seeing what a temple from ancient times looked like. I must admit I would love the series to delve more into things like this, fleshing out a bit more of the history of the galaxy.

The artwork in this annual was good, in fact for the most part I found it preferential to that of the regular series. It helped to move the story on well, I was particularly impressed with the characters moving down staircases. A couple of the action scenes with the beast could have perhaps been done better, but this is a minor complaint.

My expectations for this annual were low, and yet I came away from this issue having had a really enjoyable ride. There is nothing too serious here, which allows you to enjoy the story more. The introduction of two new characters is always a gamble and yet payed off really well. My only worry is that this will be the first and only time we see Winloss and Nokk, as I for one would like to see a lot more of them and their marriage! And isn’t that what shows if a story is good or not? If you want to read more? And this annual certainly does that. With all the intensity of the regular series, it was good to have a breath of calm (well as calm as the series can get) and just enjoy. If you want to see what Doctor Aphra is all about in a single issue, this would certainly be a good place to start.

Availability;

The Doctor Aphra Annual is a one shot issue available from Marvel. This issue is available via the Marvel App and all good comic book stores. This issue retails at $4.99.

Mark 'Spooked Hippie' Alders
Mark’s day job is a primary school teacher, where in his classroom you will find life size cut outs of Darth Vader and Chewbacca, trying his best to educate the youth of today in the ways of the force.



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