Doctor Aphra Comic Series Announced, Drops December! (UPDATED)

doctor-aphra-1-aForget about the logistics (the when/how/why in-universe) of the newly announced Doctor Aphra comic series for a moment and consider this: not only is Aphra’s series the first to be based on an original character, but it’s also the first on-going with a female lead (Princess Leia had the first female lead, though it was in a mini-series), a person-of-color, and a member of the LGBT community. This is a big leap for Star Wars comics, and mainstream comic publishers as a whole and should be lauded simply for all its inclusiveness. With all that in mind let’s unpack the details of the series, coming to comic shops near you December 7, below! (UPDATE: Review for isssue #1 here!)

Doctor Aphra 1Just a few weeks ago, news dropped that Kieron Gillen, writer for Darth Vader, was working on a new, classified series which had evidence pointing to the announcement of a Doctor Aphra series. But was it to be set after DV, pointing to her survival, or set before, pointing to her possible death? The answer includes big spoilers for the finale of the Darth Vader (review of issue #25 here) series, but after a little taste of the cold vacuum of space, Doctor Aphra survives her ordeal with Vader. And her series, according to Gillen in his interview about the announcement at the official site is set to pick up after her survival in DV #25. In it, she’s struggling with paying off debts, like to Black Krrsantan (the Wookiee bounty hunter) both in terms of money and a promise she made him (about finding those who trained and tortured him, as seen in issue #8), keeping the murderous duo of Triple-Zero and BT-1 in check (good luck with that!), flying under Vader’s radar, dealing with her doctorate (which I never figured she got fairly in the first place because come on, it’s Aphra!) coming into question and what that means for selling artifacts, and her father steps back into the picture. As a fan of her archaeological ways, having always wanted to see what weird things she might uncover in the galaxy, and her darker, in-question morals, this sounds like it’ll be right up those alleys, if not even more so.

We learned a little about her family life in issue #10 of DV, where she told the tale of what happened to her mother. After a split with her father, her mom took her to the outer rim to stay away from the war, but raiders still got them (and she claims to have killed them all after finding a weapon in a nearby cave, hence archaeologist). Learning more about her past and diving into what that means for her as a character is exactly what I’ve wanted in a series about her. This is a thread that will be become an important to the series, seeing as her father will be stepping back into her life, as according to Gillen:

“It’s about her relationship with her dad. As you can imagine, there’s a level of tension there, because her parents split up and her mum moved away to the Outer Rim, and that’s why her mum got killed. The mum’s idealism kind of got her killed, and Aphra holds a grudge for that.”

Overall, Gillen’s interview is a must-read because it’s obvious he really enjoys the character as much as fans do and wants to uncover and show us what really makes a person like Aphra tick. He had this to say,

“This is the main reason I wanted to do the book. What I wanted to do was, okay, let’s really show what makes Aphra tick. That’s the work I feel I’ve got to do with the character, and that kind of push and pull she has between the stuff she does which are good [and bad]. She believes in the Empire in a weird way, she just doesn’t really want to obey them. [Laughs] She kind of thinks the Empire is probably, on the larger scale of things, good. She’s a child who grew up in war, and war has killed many more people than a fascist regime. At the same time, she’s not going to obey the fascist regime. [Laughs]”

On why she’s relatable and easy for fans to fall for, despite being a degree of evil,

“‘That was fun. Let’s never do it again,’ is the last line in Darth Vader, and you don’t believe for a second. You think that’s all she’s doing? “No, you’re going to get in some awful situation.” And that’s kind of the fun of it. That’s the fundamental fun of the character, and you can root [for her], because she makes really bad life decisions and sort of rolls with them. In the universe, most people are worse than her. She doesn’t like killing people. She’s not like a random murderer. She just has her needs.”

His comments on Kevin Walker, the artist joining him for Doctor Aphra:

“Kevin Walker is an enormous Star Wars head, as everybody is. But what Kevin is doing with the pages, it feels immediately its own book. It’s not like Darth Vader Part 2. How we integrate the Star Wars, it doesn’t feel just like a random science-fiction book. It’s like, ‘Oh yeah, this makes perfect sense for Star Wars.'”

Doctor Aphra #1 Panel Sketch Preview
via Marvel

UPDATE: It seems Marvel’s site has an interview with Kev Walker, including 4 sketch pages from the first issue! His art style is something I’m already liking even without colors and Aphra’s special brand of fun is apparent in the pages as well. An interesting tidbit, those giant hairy creatures she’s seen talking to are the same species (Gigoran) as Moroff, a character set to appear in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story!

Walker on what it means for an original comic character like Aphra to be a lead of a series:

“She’s also a perfect choice for her own series because she’s not connected to the larger universe in any way. It liberates us, creatively. When it comes to any other major character in the Star Wars universe, Darth Vader or Boba Fett for example, there’s only so much we can do with them, because we can’t interfere with the larger story going on in [the] movies. Everyone knows they can’t die—within the confines of the comic book—so there’s hardly any threat to them. Their characters can’t change in any way.  There’s nowhere for us, as creators, to take them that will have any major impact on them, but Aphra doesn’t have those limitations.”

UPDATE 2: 11/24’s The Star Wars Show not only revealed the cover and some art from issue number to, but updated the first issue’s release date to November 29, which is a Tuesday so that’s why I’m saying November 30 elsewhere in this post. It’s still releasing December 7.

I couldn’t be more enthusiastic than I already am about Aphra getting her own series, but Gillen’s interview somehow found a way to get me even more stoked. She’s been my favorite of the new, original characters and since he hasn’t steered her wrong as a character so far, I have no doubt we’ll be in for a lot of fun and awful situations when December 7 rolls around and she’s on comic shelves everywhere. Thank the Force she is. And thank the Force Marvel and Lucasfilm are taking such a risk for her.

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

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Marvel’s Back: Star Wars Comics 2015 Year-in-Review

Doctor Aphra
Aphra (#1-6) | And the Enormous Profit (#9-14)
The Screaming Citadel (crossover of Doctor Aphra and Star Wars on-goings)
Star Wars
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
Poe Dameron
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)
Darth Vader
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)
Darth Maul (mini-series)
Han Solo (mini-series)
Rogue One (adaptation)
Obi-Wan & Anakin (mini-series)
Shattered Empire (mini-series)
Princess Leia (mini-series)
Lando (mini-series)
Chewbacca (mini-series)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (mini-series)

One-Shots: C-3PO | Cassian & K-2SO