Canon Comic Review: Doctor Aphra #2

Doctor Aphra #2

Spoiler Review –

Rest assured, after Boop’s second issue, the good Doctor is in and firing on all cylinders, providing laughs at every turn of the page as Doctor Aphra #2 outdoes the first issue in every aspect. Just don’t call Aphra “Boop” ever again.

If you felt like Aphra‘s first issue was a little disappointing or not what you expected (I enjoyed it just fine), then your patience has paid off as Kieron Gillen assuages any and all fears with the second issue. All throughout Darth Vader‘s run, one of my favorite aspects to Aphra and the murderbots’ parts was their unexpected and always dangerously humorous contributions and if that’s what you liked most about them too, then imagine that on every page of a comic. That’s essentially Doctor Aphra #2, an issue that so consistently delivered the laughs I had trouble reading because I had to pause long enough to read a bit more before laughing again. Whether it’s the ending of the opening flashback where young Aphra explains she might have issues, BT-1’s insistence the tale of the Ordu Aspectu (more on them in a bit) has another possible interpretation, or Triple-Zero’s disappointment over Aphra’s torture-tease, Gillen delivers the hilarious comic I always imagined one staring these characters would be like, while also showing and expertly using restraint to allow the story to continue.

Doctora Aphra variant coverAphra’s problems with her father were first made known in Darth Vader #10 and Doctor Aphra #2 dives head-first into their rocky relationship, where we learn how flaws and ethical lapses seem to run in the family. At the end of issue #1, we learn her dad is responsible for Aphra’s doctorate to be put under review and in #2 it’s revealed he didn’t do it because he’s reporting her for cheating like anyone rightfully should, but rather because he’s using the threat of her doctorate being lost as blackmail to help him on some wild bantha chase; In return, as she’s no stranger to ethical sidesteps, she threatens her father back with the full torturous power of Triple-Zero. He only gets her to go along with his plan to chase down what he believes is finally the location of the Ordu Aspectu, a group searching for immortality (it seems…) by mentioning there could be weapon involved…and also that he’ll likely end any suspicion about her doctorate. While daddy issues aren’t anything new to Star Wars (Luke and Vader, Jyn and Galen, Anakin and his pseudo-father Obi-Wan/Palpatine/the Jedi, etc), what’s refreshing about this version is that these two let everything out on the table; there’s truly nothing holding these two back from their mutual distaste for one-another and in a way they get to be more honest than any of the pairs I mentioned above ever were able to be. For Force’s sake, they outright threaten each other and have no qualms telling the other exactly how they feel about each person’s lifestyles and choices, making for some of the issue’s most entertaining quips and jokes. While the humor is what I love most about this issue, in the end I’m here to read and learn more about Aphra as a character and we learn quite a bit about her through her interactions with her father, a man who is no less a saint than his daughter, and their relationship is what’ll keep me coming back for more (other than the laughs, of course).

The moment Aphra’s father started to tell the tale of the Ordu Aspectu, something told me (probably the fact that the “Jedi” in his story looked traditionally like Sith) his tale was either false or one of many about them and I was very happy when other variations were presented. The idea that even within the GFFA stories can be in flux and full of legends/myths is exciting, as it’s a fun way to show how history in-universe can be muddled by time and false tales much like ours can. Personally, I believe whatever the true story of the Aspectu ends up being (if they’re real at all), it’ll likely be somewhere in the middle of both Aphra and her dad’s version (we’re totally not counting Bee-tee’s, but he gets credit for trying) but I won’t be disappointed if we never get answer either way though, as this is just a highly entertaining and humorous setup and McGuffin that’s interesting enough to be the background for a tale about Aphra and her father.

Kev Walker’s art, like most artist’s, has begun to grow on me even after I enjoyed it mostly in issue #1. I’m still not a big fan of the all the white space, but it’s beginning to make sense visually with the rest of art within the issue. I’m particularly a fan of his comical and expressive faces and he seemed to be enjoying himself while drawing the various tales of the Ordu Aspectu (I’m very curious if Walker’s art for the different tales is meant to convey how the characters telling them would see it in their mind’s eye, as I thought maybe in her version of the story, Aphra’s mixing in a younger Sana to represent the Jedi who shows up at the Fortress of Garn). Walker is complemented by Antonio Fabela on colors, who goes all out of the various tellings of the Aspectu tale as well.

Here are a few other things:

  • I did some digging (aka Googling) to understand what exactly Ordu Aspectu could mean, especially as it sounds/looks like Latin. According to Wikitonary, Aspectu is a singular form of aspectus, which in Latin means, “the act of looking; the sense of sight” among other similar meanings. Ordu is a little trickier, as in Turkish it stands for “army” while its Latin form means, “order, chain, succession.” Essentially, if we go all in on Latin, they are the Order of Lookers (I’m simplifying it, but you get what I mean) but if we add in the Turkish meaning they are an Army of Lookers. In a way, the dual possibilities sync up perfectly with the dual stories told about them by Aphra and her father: In her father’s version, they most certainly are an order, which one might equate with peaceful, looking for immortality; In Aphra’s version, they are more akin to an army as they have no qualms about waging war and killing innocents in their quest for immortality. I’m curious if that’s why/how Gillen chose the name.
  • Seeing as Gillen is British, I did find myself having to look up one of Triple-Zero’s comments, “…twee.” According to a quick Google search, ‘twee’ means, “excessively quaint” which is how the droid referred to the Ordu Aspectu from Aphra’s father’s version of the tale.
  • Some of favorite lines: “…please just don’t say it’s anything to do with the Ordu Aspectu.” – Aphra. “It’s the Ordu Aspectu.” – her father; “Oh–the psychologist says I may have some issues. Fair to warn you.” – young Aphra.
  • Aphra’s nickname of “Boop” is freaking adorable, but can we please get a name for her father soon?
  • What can Aphra, her father, Krrrsantan, and the murderbots find on Yavin IV besides trouble? I can’t wait to find out next year!

Outside of Darth Vader‘s impressive last two issues, Doctor Aphra #2 might be one of my favorite issues of the year thanks to its effortless humor, unique take on a well-tread trope, and thrusting the story into full gear, all of which involve my favorite character from the comics.

+ The humor can’t stop, won’t stop

+ Daddy issues like we’ve never seen them before: honest and open

+ Tales have many meanings…

Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth. You can follow the website @MynockManor.

Doctor Aphra
Aphra: #1 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6 | And the Enormous Profit (#9-13) | Remastered (#14-19) | Annual: #1

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