Canon Comic Review: Doctor Aphra #3

Doctor Aphra #3

Spoiler Review –

Aphra, her father, the muderbots, and Krrsantan head to Imperial-controlled Yavin IV…what could go wrong? In Doctor Aphra #3, it’s more of what surprisingly goes right, as the search for the Ordu Aspectu might not be as foolish as everyone once thought and Papa Aphra drops a doozy: Aphra’s full name!

Aphra’s rocky relationship with her father, which I noted in my review of issue #2 for being a little less than ordinary because they are so open with their less than stellar feelings for one another, is simply a pot full of anger simmering beneath the surface, ready to breakthrough at any moment. Issue #3 brings the two to the boiling point, as Papa Aphra’s (or as Triple-Zero puts it, “…older model Aphra…”) detachment from life in his pursuit of the Ordu Aspectu is Aphra’s biggest point of contention with him and the numerous examples here revealing his willful ignorance are impossible for Aphra to disregard. She tears into Papa Aphra after their adventure “fails,” calling him out for his distance and estrangement from the family, and then seclusion from modern events, in the pursuit of his dreams of finding the Ordu Aspectu. While Aphra’s problems with her father have merit, in a way her point about his ignorance does come back around to bite her in the ass, as she too committed ignorance as she disregarded certain atrocious aspects of the Empire’s previous machinations while she willfully helped Darth Vader simply because working with him was the stuff dreams are made of for her. They have more in common than either would like to admit, but Papa Aphra’s offenses are the worse of the two, considering you can’t necessarily blame Aphra for events that happened prior to her joining with Vader. Aphra and her father’s relationship is complex but always shifting, as in the end she can’t deny the results of his labor when their hunt for the Ordu Aspectu takes a new and exciting turn, and the series is all the better for it. Kieron Gillen knows a thing or two about relationships and getting into the minds of his characters to see what makes them tick, considering he did some of the best character work along those lines for Darth Vader yet to be published, so it’s no surprise he’s managed to make Doctor Aphra‘s core relationship between father-daughter engaging, entertaining, humorous, and revealing.

Doctor Aphra. Aphra. Boop. And now finally, a moment many have been waiting for: Chelli Lona Aphra! Of course putting a child with their parent might mean the parent would try to admonish their child by using their full name, but I didn’t expect to learn it at all to be honest (nor was I really interested in learning it, though totally welcoming of its reveal!). I might have missed the pronunciation debate, but I’m assuming Chelli is the space version of Shelly, though when he first yells it to get her attention to help catch a falling artifact (before going full parent and using her full name later) I for some reason pronounced it Jelly…though I feel WAY more confident it’s Shelly. Chelli Lona Aphra. Less contentious of a first name reveal than Sheev Palpatine, I can tell you that. Now if only we’d get Papa Aphra’s first name at some point…

Doctor Aphra 3 Full CoverI was under no illusions some part of the Ordu Aspectu story would turn out to be truth in legends, but I didn’t expect it to start being possibly true so early in the arc/series. In fact, I was laughing too hard at Papa Aphra’s apparent failure, thanks to Triple-Zero so pointedly remarking the lack of obvious results from their work in the map room to be anticlimactic, and then yelling, “Let him have it,” at Chelli Aphra as she tore into Papa Aphra, to even consider there was going to be results to Papa Aphra’s work. In true archaeological adventure form, this incursion to the Massassi Temple map room is just one small piece in a larger jigsaw to uncover the Ordu Aspectu, as every temple on Yavin IV lights up and directs their beam out into the cosmos. Where does this lead? What trials will this motley group have to overcome next? As much as I want to see the continuing adventures of Aphra because I find both the character wildly entertaining and I want to see her succeed in her pursuit of making ends meet by scouring the galaxy, this hunt for the Ordu Aspectu has made Doctor Aphra compelling for even more reasons and signals it won’t shy away from taking us down strange rabbit holes. Since Aphra has been, from the very start, a darker twist on Indiana Jones, could their search end up fruitful but they’ll have to sacrifice the find because of the danger it poses, much like what always happens in the other archaeologist’s films? Consider me in for the ride either way!

That Papa Aphra was so wrapped up in the pursuit of something mythical like the Ordu Aspectu, thus making it feel real to him but making something like the Death Star sound like a myth itself was probably the most interesting and unique POV I’ve heard in-universe about the events us out-of-universers know so well from the films. It ties into my thoughts in the previous review as well, as it’s kind of fascinating to consider that just like us, the stories and events one would assume denizens of the galaxy would know so well can be twisted through time and/or propaganda (something the Aftermath Trilogy has been making good use of as well). So far Doctor Aphra has been playing a very entertaining balancing act in that regard, as it can give us several bits of historical facts and then tease other possible stories yet to be told. I thoroughly enjoy both aspects, especially as I’ve always been one who feels like the canon can take its sweet time in filling in the blanks, letting fans ruminate and guess at the parts they don’t know yet; I mean, there’s simply no rush otherwise we’d run out of Star Wars too quickly! I’m also enjoying how some of the tidbits here about the Massassi hint at a connection to their Legends past, but makes no steps to be definitive if it’ll tie into those previous version of events or not.

The humor of Triple-Zero and Bee Tee never ceases to make me laugh, sometimes forcing me to put the issue down to find my breath, and their antics were par for the course in issue #3. From Bee Tee’s insistence they should just be murdering every stormtrooper in sight (and Triple-Zero’s surprise at the extent of his psychopathic friend’s quench for murder) to Triple-Zero’s compliments of a ball torture droid (an IT-O, like the one that tortured Leia on the Death Star) and everything in between, they have some of the best lines like usual. But Krrsantan got an even bigger breakout moment, as he acts as a one-Wookiee wrecking crew of a distraction, taking out tons of Imperials like it was just another day at the butt-kicking office for him. And how he takes advantage of a recently destroyed AT-ST’s still functioning armaments might be one of the coolest Wookiee related images I’ve yet to see and it really makes me wish we’d get more stories with the Wookiees at the forefront (like those cancelled The Clone Wars arcs were supposed to do).

The Empire has always been lacking in the female department, and though there were several standout ones like Isard and Daala in Legends, the new canon is slowly building its own roster. From the most recognizable in Rae Sloane (a multi-media Imperial at that), Governor Pryce, ISB agent Beck, and Captain Brunson, things are inching towards a slightly better gender parity. But alas it’s still a ways away, so I can’t help but point out when a new one joins the ranks, as one does in Doctor Aphra #3: Captain Tolvan. She’s got a sick design, as her grey hair and covered (what I assume are) burn marks hint at a storied past, and it’s one I hope we’ll get to see uncovered slightly here and expanded elsewhere. Kev Walker’s art has continued to grow on me, with help from Antonio Fabela on colors, as its focus on these individuals in their larger than life setting allows new characters like Tolvan to take a moment of spotlight and build interest in her person, while it lets us see as much as read the obvious divide between father and daughter.

Here are a few other things:

  • Papa Aphra’s obsession with the Ordu Aspectu means he knows a lot about the Jedi, so it seems natural he might discuss the loss of the Temple of Kyber on Jedha, an event just witnessed for the first time by fans in Rogue One. This was a subtle, appreciated, and intriguing crossover (there’s also a hovertank just outside the temple).
  • A newly launched mobile game, Force Arena, features Doctor Aphra! She’s not a playable character, instead a companion character you call into battle alongside Darth Vader, but nonetheless this is the first time she’s broken out of the comics and I don’t suspect it’ll be her last time, either. You can see her as part of the game’s title art and learn why she was chosen for the game, in an interview with the game’s lead producer at the official site. Likewise, see her stroll up alongside Vader in the game’s trailer. As for the game itself, I’ve been playing it for the last few days, only a little at a time, and even though it’s repetitive, it can be an amusing distraction for several minutes at a time. Consider giving it a download, it’s free, if only to collect the Aphra card!
  • But it’s not just Aphra that’s getting some gaming love, as Triple-Zero and BT-1 have joined Fantasy Flight Game’s Imperial Assault as an expansion pack. Their pack adds a Tarkin Initiative Labs map, which is where Bee Tee was being built before he blew the place up and escaped, while the murderbots will end up following Rebel players throughout a remaining campaign if players don’t successful rescue prisoners from an interrogation facility; sounds pretty fitting for them, no? But the most important reason, even if you don’t own Imperial Assault, to check out their expansion pack: the detailed sculpted figurines! It might be a while before Hasbro ever makes action figures for these two, so if you’re looking to collect something along those lines for the murderbots, look no further (releasing 2nd quarter 2017)!
  • Fans of Aphra came out in full force in December, as Doctor Aphra #1 was 8th place in the Top 10 (at Diamond Comic) for the month! Thank you for going out and supporting this series, and let me give a big congrats to everyone at Marvel who helped make the series happen as well as Kieron Gillen (who is the devious mastermind for this wonderful character), Kev Walker, and Antonio Fabela  (And thanks to Florian for pointing it out!).
  • Don’t just take my word for how enjoyable this series has gotten, especially thanks to this issue, as fellow Aphra fan Bria at Tosche-Station puts it, “We’re getting that archaeological story so many of us have hoped for that’s showing us other parts of the galaxy. It’s just so neat and so fun and… okay seriously, why are people not reading this book? All Star Wars fans should be.” Couldn’t agree more!

Netmarble's Force Arena Darth Vader and Doctor Aphra

It shouldn’t come as much shock at this point that I’m enjoying this series, but it’s not just because I’m a giant fan of the character, but that Doctor Aphra #3 does so much in so little: unveils the title character’s full name, lets Krrsantan show the power of a Wookiee warrior, continues building the engaging core relationship of father and daughter, and reveals the search for the Ordu Aspectu might not be that crazy after all.

+ Chelli Lona Aphra!

+ The trail gets surprisingly warm for the Ordu Aspectu

+ Father and daughter relationship works well

+ Sidekicks come in handy

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

Doctor Aphra
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