– Spoiler Review –
With deftness and its trademark humor, Doctor Aphra #13 sifts through and deals with the aftermath of last month’s game-changing issue, unforgettably wrapping up the major arcs of its first year.
Darth Vader’s battle with the Immortal Rur does not disappoint, even if Rur was always destined to be defeated. Considering Vader is made up mostly of machine parts, and Rur has technopathy, plenty of theories abounded Rur might take over Vader’s suit at some point, but in a sly reference to the events from the first Vader series by Kieron Gillen (issue #24), he’s made adjustments to his suit to prevent such a recurrence. How Vader smashes Rur around into submission was fantastic and is totally fitting for the Dark Lord of the Sith, and while I doubt we’ll see Rur again anytime soon, the idea that he’s now part of Palpatine’s creepy collection means anything could be possible. However, I won’t mind him not appearing for awhile, as I enjoyed him for the most part, but excited to see what else Aphra will have to face in her journeys ahead!
Since the story thread of Vader appearing was laid out in issue #9, I’ve theorized he actually has an inkling that Aphra survived him jettisoning her into space, but issue #13 seems to prove he didn’t have a clue. However, his reaction to sensing Aphra as she flees is priceless, as his line at first mirrors his comments about sensing Obi-Wan on the Death Star in A New Hope, “Hmm. I feel a presence I have not felt for some time…” then dives into, “An…infuriating presence.” He then decides to let this presence escape the blockade, which I took to mean Vader feels like Aphra is such a damn nuisance he’d rather let her go and cause havoc for someone else than have to hunt her down and deal with her himself! One could say Vader’s afraid of Aphra, from a certain point of view! I love this outcome because it’s unexpected but understandable on Vader’s part, while it leaves the possibility open he could still come for her one day. Crisis averted…for now.
Ever since Triple-Zero and Bee Tee’s introduction, I’ve both laughed deep from within my gut at their dark humor and also found them to be creepy, but only to an minor extent as they could be controlled in the end. In issue #13, for the very first time, my skin literally crawled in every panel they graced, as their newfound freedom is terrifying and they waste zero time taking advantage of it. The way they set up Yonak, the Sun-Tuul Rodian, and turn him into their slave is disturbing and exciting, at the same time; they are now a legitimate threat to the galaxy and I’m both frightened and curious to see where they plan on going from here (they might even attack the Manor!*). If Aphra will ever regret anything, I imagine it might be the decision to let them free instead of face Vader.
Ah yes, Aphra, the wonderful human being who considers using a human shield as a classic move, if a little cruel, manages to rescue the priceless artifacts and saves the day…for herself. It’s quite possibly the most Aphra-like outcome of all time, as her good deed of returning some of the artifacts to their rightful places doesn’t go without a little profit for herself on the side. This is Gillen writing of course, so Aphra is charming in her own roguish way, but this issue contains some of the best stuff all arc, which always seems impossible but he continues to surpass himself every issue. But what does Aphra do with her new found wealth and freedom from Wookiees, murderbots, and Vader? She takes a relaxing beach vacation, full of cocktails and sun, for what is a classic happy ending. But people like Aphra, they don’t get happy endings, as friends of the man she murdered way back in issue #1, or rather backstabbed after he backstabbed her, show up and ruin her cocktail sabbatical; her final line about the situation (and of the issue) is pitch perfect. And there’s no doubt, and no special edition on the way, that she shot her accuser here first, so take that, Han Solo!
While Gillen will stay on despite taking over the Star Wars series, he’ll be co-writing Aphra going forward with Simon Spurrier. As for the art, this was unfortunately Kev Walker (pencils), Marc Deering (inks), and Antonio Fabela’s (colors) final issue of the series. I wasn’t the biggest fan of their art initially, but I quickly came around and have really come to enjoy the emotive, lighthearted look Walker’s pencils bring to Aphra and the series, fitting well with the tone. From Sutha hunched over in fright and being use by Aphra as a shield to the way Vader smashes Rur around, Walker went out on a high note. Deering and Fabela’s inks and colors highlighted the starkness between Vader’s red blade and Rur’s green glow, while they vividly brought the final beach scenes to a warming light. It’s been a great eleven issues (only Fabela worked on all 13, including the two The Screaming Citadel issues) and they will be missed!
Here are a few other things:
- *Doctor Aphra’s letters page, cleverly titled “Doctor’s Notes,” is always entertaining due to the responses being written by Triple-Zero and Bee Tee (aka Assistant Editor Heather Antos in this case). And this week’s letters were pretty special: Your Head Butler of the Manor aka me, made the “Doctor’s Notes!” Having myself and the Manor threatened by the murderbots is an absolute honor! It was my birthday this Monday, so with The Last Jedi trailer, this awesome drawing my niece made me, and now being in Doctor Aphra‘s letters page makes this the best birthday week ever!
- Aphra’s quip about a moral dilemma being averted not only made me burst out laughing, but it connects to Kieron Gillen’s short story about her, “The Trigger,” in the 40th Anniversary book, From a Certain Point of View! I’m nearly finished and my review is forthcoming, but “The Trigger” is classic Aphra through and through, as it places her on Dantooine when the Imperials come looking for a rebel base, and getting out of the impossible situation is just another day at the office for her. Gillen has said before he’s never had his prose really published before, but it’s fantastic and keeps the magic that is Aphra alive, as her interior monologues are extensions of her quips and talkativeness we get in the comics. A full novel about Aphra would be outstanding and Gillen would be more than welcomed to write it! So go check out FACPOV if you can get the chance, as Aphra’s story is just one of 40 enjoyable tales!
- We do get a quick tease of Black Krrsantan beginning to repay his weird life-debt to the Xonti brothers for how they changed him, but I’m not sure if we’ll be picking back up with or seeing Krrsantan anytime soon in the issues ahead. I’d love to have him back, but we’ll see!
Doctor Aphra #13 wraps up the first year with aplomb, feeling both complete and wide-open for where her adventures can go from here. I’ll leave you lastly with this: As per Gillen’s advice about reading the final page and playing Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” while imagining credits rolling, crack open the last page right now and press play below! It’s gloriously perfect!
+ Aphra’s cocktail vacation
+ Vader doesn’t want to have to deal with Aphra
+ Murderbots free = skin crawling
+ Delightful wrap up of many story threads
The Screaming Citadel (crossover of Doctor Aphra and Star Wars on-goings)
Skywalker Strikes (#1-6) | Old Ben’s Journals | Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon (#8-12) | Rebel Jail (#16-19) | The Last Flight of the Harbinger (#21-25) | Yoda’s Secret War (#26-30) | Out Among the Stars (#33-37) | Annual: #1 | #2 | #3
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6) | The Gathering Storm (#7-13) | Legend Lost (#14 – 16) | War Stories (#17-19)
Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith
The Chosen One (#1-6)
Vader (#1-6) | Shadows and Secrets (#7-12) | The Shu-Torun War (#16-19) | End of Games (#20-25) | Annual: #1
Vader Down (crossover of Star Wars and Darth Vader on-goings)
The Last Padawan (#1-6) | First Blood (#7-12)
Jedi of the Republic – Mace Windu (miniseries)
Captain Phasma (miniseries)
Darth Maul (miniseries)
Han Solo (miniseries)
Rogue One (adaptation)
Obi-Wan & Anakin (miniseries)
Shattered Empire (miniseries)
Princess Leia (miniseries)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (miniseries)