Written by Simon Spurrier
Art by Wilton Santos and Caspar Wijngaard
Inked by Marc Deering and Don Ho
Colors by Chris O’Halloran and Stephane Paitreau
Letters by VC’s Joe Caramanga
Cover by Ashley Witter
Edited by Mark Paniccia
As this is the first Dr Aphra review for the site I feel like some brief background should be given to the character. A character created within the new canon, she has been described as a blend of Indiana Jones and Han Solo, only with a darker sense of humor and a more mercenary attitude. Like Han Solo she has a softer edge to her personality than she wishes to show, but unlike him she is probably soft-hearted enough to go back and help out Luke at the end of A New Hope. Think of a warmer, black-humored, funnier version of Boba Fett, only with a specialty in hunting for artifacts rather than people. The people, and often droids, are just unfortunate collateral damage to Aphra.
This issue is the opening of a new arc entitled Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon, but despite the new arc any new readers would be served well by starting off with some of the earlier Aphra volumes as this won’t form a natural jumping on point. Spurrier sets up some nice background scenes showing glimpses of Aphra’s childhood, with her father (who we know she has a strained relationship with from earlier issues), but also Aphra’s mother. In fact the theme of maternal instincts is played out in this issue with Aphra struggling to come to terms with her de facto guardianship of Vulaada. This is what prompts considerations around Aphra’s mother, when Aphra starts to repeat some of her mothers harsher parenting tips to her pseudo-ward (“tears are just a big flashing sign saying “weak””). There are some tender moments in this issue that round out the Aphra character’s background.
The real drive for this arc though is likely signaled within the later parts of the issue. Here we see the dramatic reunion of Aphra and Tolvan (see earlier issues) much to the surprise of the latter. Tolvan’s arrival is preceded by the appearance of Sister Six who unwittingly chases down Aphra in order to recover the Jedi Relic that Aphra and Vulaada have made of with while on a job. The artwork in this issue is of the pretty solid variety utilized by Marvel Star Wars these days, and although it seems to have been drawn, inked and colored by a small army of talent this doesn’t show in the consistently high standard of the issue’s presentation. The last full page showing a dramatic reveal is particularly well rendered.
This is a good opening to a new arc which draws on a number of previous developments in the series as well as setting up very interesting plot potential in forthcoming issues. If you are a Star Wars fan you probably know by now whether this book is to your tastes or not. As a series it tends to fall into an esoteric, fairly niche bracket of Star Wars book that attracts Aphra fans as opposed to all Star Wars fans.
That’s fine though and for those invested in the series, this will perhaps spark off some great plot developments that will sustain interest for a number of issues to come.