Marvel’s New Star Wars comics have all been really good so far. Of the two ongoing series that began in 2014, the Darth Vader title was the stronger series. It told the tale of the titular Sith Lord chasing after the unknown pilot who blew up the (first) Death Star. Along the way, he recruited a nefarious archaeologist and her two murderdroids.
We’ve talked about how great Dr. Aphra is before, and now the debut issue of her new ongoing series is here. She is the first original character from the new EU comics to have her own series, so it’s a pretty big deal. But how good is it?
Doctor Aphra’s debut should be great. Keiron Gillen (her creator in Darth Vader) returns to write with a new artist in Kev Walker (Avengers Arena, Avengers Undercover). The story picks up right after the events of Darth Vader. Aphra barely survived her partnership with Vader, who believes her to be dead. With her crew, which now includes the Wookiee bounty hunter Krrsantan along with BT-1 and 0-0-0 (BeeTee and Triple-Zero) the two murderdroids, Aphra is back to her old tricks as an archaeologist.
The Anti-Indy (Spoilers Ahead)
Aphra isn’t so much like Indiana Jones, she’s more like the villain who waits for Indy to do all the work and then takes all his stuff and chucks him into the snake pit. As the book opens, she does just that, swiping an artifact from a rival archaeologist and leaving him for dead. She heads back to her ship with the acquisition only to be accosted by Soo-Tath, some kind of crime boss. He expects payment for a debt owed by Aphra, but she has to sell her artifact, a transaction that can evidently only be performed by someone with a Doctorate in Archaeology.
Not happy with this answer, Soo-Tath sics his hairy goons on Aphra, and Krrsantan comes to the rescue doing what Wookiees do best. (She owes Krrsantan money too, so if she’s killed by mob goons, then she can’t repay him. Convenient, no?) Soo-Tath reluctantly agrees to let Aphra sell the artifact rather than taking it from her, though he drops a thinly-veiled threat of revealing her location to the Empire.
This was a bad move. Triple-Zero has been enjoying his time with Aphra and doesn’t want anything to risk it coming to a close. He lives up to his reputation as a murderdroid and does away with Soo-Tath without Aphra’s knowledge.
Aphra, now free to get paid for her find, goes to a facility where “Doctors” turn in their archaeological finds in exchange for monetary compensation. Unfortunately, surprise, her status as a Doctor has been revoked. Aphra cheated to get her degree, and someone found out. But before she can speculate who, someone from her past pops up to say hello. It’s her dad.
The College Years
Since this is a Marvel #1 they have to justify the jacked-up price somehow, so there is an additional story. The short, also written by Gillen with art by Darth Vader artist Salvador Larroca, tells a story from Aphra’s past. She’s an irreverent and disrespectful grad student. Her professor hates her, and says as much to her face, revealing that he chose to oversee her doctoral studies so he could flunk her into oblivion. But this is Aphra we are talking about. She isn’t defeated so easily. She comes up with a plot to win favor in the archaeological community and simultaneously screw over her professor in one fell swoop.
And the Verdict?
This story is, as was the majority of the Darth Vader series, great fun, especially if you like villains and anti-heroes. Aphra is as unprincipled as they come and will do anything to get ahead, but she somehow remains likable even as she resorts to cold-blooded murder. (Hey, the other guy started it). BeeTee and Triple-Zero are, as ever, fantastic as the evil counterparts to R2D2 and C-3PO. The added presence of Krrsantan is like adding an evil Chewbacca to the cast, and who wouldn’t want that?
Aphra continues to be an engaging and relatable character in spite of her Chaotic Neutral, and even downright Evil behavior. Now we are getting some clues to her backstory, and how she got to be where she is now.
The art by Kev Walker is a great fit. The opening action scenes and the Wookiee fight have a good flow to them. The aliens and locations continue to be what we expect from Star Wars. Walker does some great work with expressions, particularly with Aphra. That look on her face when her dad pops up says so much with so little.
All-in-all this is a fine debut for a character that is quickly becoming a favorite of mine in the Star Wars universe. Bring on issue #2!
- Writer: Kieron Gillen
- Art: Kev Walker
- Colors: Antonio Fabela
- Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
- Cover: Kamome Shirahama