– Spoiler Review –
Doctor Aphra #6 is so quintessentially Aphra, and such a damn solid issue for the first arc’s finale, I’m still laughing, geeking out, and smiling through every page. Taking Aphra and giving her her own book has certainly paid off, as the latest issue is its greatest yet as well as one of Star Wars comics best issues to date.
Seriously, there are so many delectable moments in #6 that Aphra fans are spoiled rotten with the goods: there’s Aphra cutting up evil droids with a lightsaber in full on badass mode, Aphra in a leather jacket (hello new cosplay opportunities…which see below, someone already did at Celebration Orlando 2017!), Aphra having bad taste in women (her LGBTQ+ status set firmly in stone, thankfully), and so much more you have to experience it all for yourself. It’s like a greatest hits of Aphra, some of which we didn’t know were her greatest hits until just this issue, but it’s a high bar to set with its combination of humor, pathos, and unwavering portrayal of the character we’re all here reading this series for.
The strained relationship between Chelli and Papa Aphra has been the center of this first arc and it’s been fun to watch them go back and forth, never worried about sparing each other’s feelings and letting it all out at one another. After Aphra’s little trick to get his full confession last issue, they’ve finally seemed to learn to put the past behind them, especially Papa Aphra, who realizes the best way to protect his daughter is not to cling to some ancient myth in hopes of bringing back the Jedi, but to let her take care of herself because that’s what she’s best at! By letting go of the Ordu, realizing the destruction of the Citadel is the only thing that’ll save them from a death by Eternal Rur’s robotic hands, he has found hope now in the present and future, and he shares a pretty poignant moment with Chelli regarding his new found purpose after they make their safe getaway. She responds to all of this in the most Aphra way possible, quickly wishing for the mushy stuff to all be over, but there’s surprise in her face when she learns he’s finally changed and finally started focusing on things in front of him. It seems she’s finally gotten the father she needed all those years ago and they make peace with one another, agreeing to send the Citadel’s core (which Aphra tore out to help their escape/start the destruction of the Citadel and Rur) to Quarantine World III (in an awesome callback to her introduction in Darth Vader #3, as we first meet her stealing from there and here she tells her father it’s one of the safest places in the universe to put the core…oh the irony!) so it never sees the light of the universe again while Aphra regains her Doctorate. This experience with her father must have affected her quite a bit, as she’s famously quoted from her introduction, “It should be in an armory!” in regards to deadly weapons, so to see her suddenly change her mind about the core and seemingly ignoring its potential to be a big sell shows how much repairing this rift with her father meant for her as well…At least that’s what I thought until the final page, where she proves she’s Aphra through-and-through and pulls out the core, revealing she sent a fake one to be hidden and is out to sell the core to the highest bidder to score some credits! Seriously, this couldn’t have ended in a more Aphra way if it tried, and honestly I shouldn’t have been as slightly surprised as I was when she reveals her morally obtuse ways won’t ever seem to change. Aphra isn’t a villain, and she’s certainly not a hero, so to see her take both heroic and villainous steps in one issue really hits home how wonderfully unpredictable the character can be and how writer Kieron Gillen doesn’t seem to plan on comprising what makes her so special in the first place.
Ever since the “Rebel Jail” arc for the Star Wars series, and most specifically issue #19, there have been implications that Aphra and Sana Starros were in a relationship at some point, and while I originally took it to truly mean she was, it’s never been stated or completely clarified since. By the end of Aphra #6, Chelli Aphra’s LGBTQ+ status is completely confirmed, and just like everything else this issue and this entire series so far, it’s revealed in the most Aphra-way possible. I’ve wanted Captain Tolvan to survive this arc because she’s got a great character design, seems like a competent Imperial, and is among a growing list of lady Imperials, and by the end of this issue she’s thankfully still alive due to Aphra letting her live. Aphra’s reason? Because she thinks Tolvan is cute! Papa Aphra and her exchange some of the funniest lines of the issue regarding this decision: Papa Aphra, “You have very bad taste in women.” Chelli Aphra, “Well, Dad, I hear that runs in the family.” The greatest thing about this confirmation of Aphra being a lesbian is how it doesn’t define her in any way, shape, or form, but rather is just another intriguing and wonderful character trait for the character with tons of them already, hence all the love for her character. This is a big move for Star Wars as a whole, as well as Marvel, and I’m glad they aren’t shying away from the representation anymore.
Here are a few other things:
- Kieron Gillen and Kev Walker have combined to create a memorable continuation of the archaeologist’s adventures, that’s for sure! While it isn’t a surprise this book is so good thanks to Gillen writing, I was initially hesitant about Walker’s art but it has certainly grown on me over the last 6 issues, as it provides a perfect mix of cartoonish-vibes with serious edges, which fits well with Aphra’s personality and the tone of the overall series so far.
- Considering the Indiana Jones influences are never too far away, I love how the panels of the core being put away at Quarantine World III were similar to the Hanger 51 warehouse shot at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, as the deadly ancient weapon is hidden deep in the depths never to hopefully be seen again. But since she’s the dark mirror in some ways of Indy, having Aphra keep the actual core is a perfect way to upend the comparisons.
- With the story of Ordu Aspectu, we got a little more clarification from Eternal Rur, who is actually the original Rur who was kicked out of his body when his attempt to make a copy of his sentience (in an effort to attain immortality) turned out to be him moving his sentience and an evil ghost took over his body (or something like that). After some type of truce between the Jedi proper and the splinter group of the Ordu, the Jedi investigated the Ordu’s research but because real Rur, now inside the computers, was afraid the fake one would deceive the Jedi he decided to kill them all to keep his immortality a secret. It’s not really like any of the stories we got about the Ordu from issue #2, but the idea of all these ancient events being seeded here means one day, way down the line, we might get to see these things play out in some medium or another, while I love we’re adding to the galaxy’s history as I both imagined and hoped an archaeologist-centered tale might.
- I was in Orlando for SWCO 2017 and while I figured I wouldn’t get a chance to read this issue while I was there, I talked myself into buying a digital version because I just couldn’t wait to see how this whole story ended. I didn’t get around to writing this review until the following week, but it was totally worth it to read it then, especially since I wouldn’t have made the connection between that one gal’s Aphra cosplay and the newest look from this issue!
- Assistant Editor Heather Antos spoke on Never Tell Me the Podcast about all things Star Wars comics and around the 25:00 mark she talks about her excitement over working on Doctor Aphra and how they were all so surprised she took off so quickly with fandom. The whole interview is well-worth the listen for a great look behind-the-scenes at the comics as a whole.
- Seriously still no first name for Papa Aphra?!?
- I only got a handful of photos of Aphra cosplayers, but they were out in force at SWCO, so below is my personal gallery and then I have some links to plenty of other great pics (links originally provided in my coverage of Marvel’s panel):
- At the Marvel panel, all the Aphra cosplayers were rounded up at the end for a photo op backstage with the panelists: Here’s Heather Antos with them. Jordan D. White got one, as well as Matt Martin, while Salvador Larroca, who originally drew the character, tuned in about how happy he was to see so many people cosplaying as his character. Other awesome cosplay shots, outside of the Marvel panel roundup, include Bria from Tosche-Station with Darth Vader, while she also got one with Kylo Ren as a joke in reference to Kieron Gillen’s line from the latest Star Wars Insider where he said, “I can just see an older Aphra throwing her arm around Kylo Ren and saying ‘Oh, the things I could tell you about your Grandpops.’” However, my favorite has to be Colorina’s assortment of greatest hits! The fanbase around Aphra seems to grow every year and for good reason!
- Don’t forget, the Aphra series is back as part of The Screaming Citadel crossover next month!
Doctor Aphra issue #6 isn’t perfect, because it’s really hard for anything to be, but it’s as close as the comics have gotten since the Darth Vader series, proving having Aphra lead a series was a brilliant idea which has paid off in dividends for fans of the character, fans of good comics, and Star Wars fans in general. Be sure to add Doctor Aphra to your reading list, as this is the latest Star Wars comic you don’t want to miss!
+ Everything happens in the most Aphra-way possible
+ Papa Aphra and her make peace…sort of
+ Humorous, action packed, and character-driven as always
+ Sexuality confirmed
STAR WARS CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
#1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5
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)
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) | Annual: #1 | #2
The Last Padawan (#1-6) | First Blood (#7-12)
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6) | The Gathering Storm (#7-13)
Darth Maul (mini-series)
Han Solo (mini-series)
Obi-Wan & Anakin (mini-series)
Shattered Empire (mini-series)
Princess Leia (mini-series)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (mini-series)