– Spoiler Review –
After what felt like a series refresh in issue #14, Doctor Aphra #15 continues unabated with the new lease on life, bringing more quality humor, snark, and murderbot mastery any organic would die for!
The previous issue set up plenty of exciting developments for the series and issue #15 builds on each one of them, while introducing new elements in exciting, hilarious ways. For starters, the potential of a relationship between Tolvan and Aphra, while gaining traction but burned after the actions of Aphra’s not-friends which earn Tolvan her final demerit, sees a bit of a resurgence here. Tolvan starts the issue daydreaming Aphra comes to rescue her before her execution, sweeping her off her feet in the process (best. opening. ever?), but finds execution unavoidable, until a series of clerical errors and backup due to Scarif’s destruction finally reveals Inspector Thanoth (her old mentor) left her his position in case of his death, saving her. Having Tolvan continue to use Aphra’s funny made-up name, Joystick Chevron, in a romanticized manner is adorable throughout the issue, but the nickname might not last for long as she starts her search to uncover the identity of the object of her affection/burning hatred, sifting through Thanoth’s records. She uncovers that Aphra is somehow connected to Darth Vader, leaving me to wonder if this information will help Aphra’s case when the two meet again or continue to squash any romantic opportunities for them. I’m rooting for them to get together and I can’t wait to see how the series plays out their encounters going forward, as well as how Tolvan’s new position plays a role in the proceedings.
The murderbots in a position of power, with no override fail-safes, being truly free, is a stroke of genius, no matter how much it makes me cringe in horror. Triple-Zero monologuing, even becoming self-aware of the monologuing thanks to BeeTee, not only provides oodles of humor, but it helps set the stakes of Aphra’s relationship with them. It seems what the murderbots have over her is simple: they’ll call Darth Vader if she doesn’t comply. Aphra challenges them, but even at the risk of their mission and mercenaries they’ve assembled for a new job, they make good on a threat to call the Imperials on her because, “Decisions without pressure really are a frightful bore.” That Triple-Zero basically remote-controls the giant human muscled woman Rexa Go provides even more humor, as he can pop up at any moment to tease Aphra through a holoprojector on Rexa’s head (ha!) as well as slap Aphra if she gets out of line, but it’s damn creepy to consider he literally controls an organic being and can listen in on her every word. Having Darth Vader as a Master is looking mighty comfortable at this point, which is saying quite a bit on how well co-writers Si Spurrier and Kieron Gillen really build-up the insanity of Triple-Zero and BeeTee’s rule. I’m just as curious as Aphra is to find out what the murderbots want from Wat Tambor’s workshop, but I’d bet it won’t be anything one could cuddle with, with part of me wondering if it’ll be his Organic Decimator (as seen in The Clone Wars Legacy arc, “Bad Batch“) or at least something its ilk. Maybe even the technology they were hooking up to clone trooper Echo, as I could see Triple-Zero wanted to merge organics with droids, so he’d have even more bodies to take over when the current one runs out? Whatever the answer, I’m curious to see and frightened to learn!
As the cover promises, Aphra is joined by a cluster of strange new characters, a menagerie of mercenaries hired by the murderbots to storm Wat Tambor’s private warehouse. Among them are: Hallio Bas, a Skakoan aka Tambor’s species, who has inside knowledge of how to get to the warehouse; Glahst Omera, a wolf-like creature with a bad attitude; Tam Polsa, a cop who chased after a psycho only to become one and was supposed to be seen Rogue One; Caysin Bog, (he doesn’t have a head!) Tam’s boyfriend and victim of said psycho, who just so happens to be Dr. Evazan (!), and actually can be seen briefly in Rogue One; DEK-[NIL], an Aphra retooled specialty, a droideka with colorful decals and happy, cheery demeanor not unlike Mister Bones, though less murder orientated; The Violet Ghost, a noble by dubious circumstances and even more dubious circumstances for being offworld during Alderaan’s destruction; and Sister Six, a female Xexto assassin who has the right amount of snark for Aphra’s liking. This is such an awesome variety of personalities and characters to put Aphra with, a group of beings I wouldn’t be shocked to see Aphra keeps the company of, and has a lot of potential for twists and surprises due to clashes and personal vendettas they might have (one which plays out this issue!). A group like this is something I was always hoping we’d see in a series with Aphra in the lead, as I figured spending time with her meant spending time with a diverse cast who don’t normally bump into the bigger heroes.
Of course I saved the best for last: Doctor Aphra’s shenanigans this issue! Despite this being a spoiler review, I won’t ruin the whole customized Tooka bit, but it brought the biggest laugh from me in an issue full of plenty already. While she begrudges her part in the murderbots’ machinations, the thing I noticed this issue, from the Tooka to the luggage crate, is that it seems like Aphra has some sort of plan in mind. At the end of the issue #14, she looked pretty hopeless under the hand of Triple-Zero, calling him Master, but she’s nothing if not resourceful and it’s clear she’s up to something already here. But like all Aphra plans, she’ll likely stumble through it, having to make up most of it on the fly, but this is why I love her character so much and tune in issue after issue, so I’m eager to see what she has up her electro tattooed sleeves to get out of this most horrible mess. And if she and Tolvan can get together.
Bringing on Si Spurrier has only served to make this series stronger than it already was, but how much influence his writing has on that is hard to tell, but it doesn’t matter as he and Kieron Gillen continue the series’ humorous strengths and have layered in some intriguing storylines, flipping things on their head (sorry, Caysin) in entertaining ways. The art team consists of Emilio Laiso (art) and Rachelle Rosenberg (colors), who once again bring the goods and then some, as the new cast of misfits got a gorgeous splash page reveal, colored and assembled in such a way they felt mysterious, new, but already part of the galaxy at large.
Here are a few other things:
- In a recent, fantastic interview with co-writers Spurrier and Gillen about the “Remastered” arc, they mentioned there would be a big, surprise cameo later in the arc. Never in a million twin suns would I have guessed who it could’ve been, especially now that Marvel’s March 2018 solicitations revealed it: She’s one helluva animated pilot….it’s HERA! As in, Hera Syndulla, mother of the Ghost crew, Rebellion leader, ace pilot, et cetera, et cetera! This shows a commitment to Aphra by allowing an even more marketable character in the series, while also awesome to see Hera slowly grow beyond Star Wars Rebels. In fact, this is more exciting a moment for Hera to me than her talking to Han after the Battle of Endor in Forces of Destiny. I simply cannot wait to see their interactions, and if Hera tries any of her patented mom talks with the rogue archaeologist.
- It’s great to see, even in death, Inspector Thanoth continues to be useful, meticulous, and helpful. Great legacy for a great, minor character from the Darth Vader series!
- As for the Rogue One connections of the two mercenaries, I wouldn’t have had any idea about them being connected to the film without reading/seeing pictures online from the Ultimate Visual Guide (you can read Chris’ review here).
- These covers from Ashley Witter have been nothing short of gorgeous. Would love to see her do the interiors of any Star Wars series at some point, but covers will do for now!
- I’ve decided to repurpose Triple-Zero’s line about mynocks, “Plenty more mynocks in the exogorth…” for the site: “There are plenty of talented mynocks in our exogorth!”
- As always, I’m not alone in my excitement for this arc: check out Bria’s review over at Tosche-Station.
Doctor Aphra #15 builds on the excellent set-up from issue #14, already making the “Remastered” arc look to be the series best!
+ Tolvan’s New Groove
+ Aphra’s Hidden Plans
+ The Murderbot’s Mastery is downright chilling…and hilarious
+ Mercenaries Galore
CURRENT SERIES COMIC REVIEWS:
Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith
The Chosen One (#1-6) | The Dying Light (#7-10) | The Rule of Five (#11-12) | Burning Seas (#13-18)
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6) | The Gathering Storm (#7-13) | Legend Lost (#14 – 16) | War Stories (#17-19) | Legend Found (#20-25) | Annual: #1
Ashes of Jedha (#38-43) | Mutiny at Mon Cala (#44-49) | Annual: #3