– Spoiler Review –
Vader crashes Chelli Aphra’s party and the muderbots make their move for freedom in another action-packed, humorous issue of Doctor Aphra! Issue #12 stands both as another high point of the series and for the comics overall.
After issue #11, I had plenty of guesses for what the murderbots Triple-Zero and Bee Tee would want from Aphra, one of them including freedom. Now, I didn’t place too much importance on that guess because I figured Aphra would have the good sense to deny the request, but of course that’s what they ask for…and get! Considering the circumstances, either grant them freedom or allow them to lead Vader to her, I completely understand her choice even with the threat they could kill her the moment she lets them go. But because she’s never provided much boredom and pays them compliments (well, she means them as insults of course), they let her go, though the threat of their return hangs ominous over their parting. The murderbots finally breaking free was expertly presented in as creepy and chilling fashion as such an events deserves, whether it was the dialogue, where Aphra admits Triple-Zero’s sinister, “Until we meet again,” creeps her out more than being stuck on the space station with Vader, or the art, like the panel where the murderbots display their abundance of murdering implements with glee over their freedom. While Vader’s foreboding presence has hung over this series since its start, as we’ve always wondered how he’d respond to learning she still lives (if he doesn’t already know, though it seems the murderbots didn’t tell him that at least!), I believe knowing Triple-Zero and Bee Tee are out there somewhere, murdering their way through the galaxy one sentient at a time, is much more unnerving considering they’re likely to be less forgiving than Vader.
This was a big issue, beyond even that, as Aphra assists Krrsantan with successfully tracking down and stopping the Xonti brothers from getting away. We just learned their history with the big, deadly Wookiee in Aphra Annual #1, which helped clarify Krrsantan’s weird life-debt to the gladiator pit bosses, though it’ll be curious to see in what way he decides to alter their lives to match how they altered his! But I’m more curious if/when we’ll see that, because as it stands, Aphra looks to be without her three main co-stars in the coming adventures ahead after this issue, with the murderbots sowing havoc in the galaxy and Krrsantan delivering his own brand of justice/revenge/whatever. How long will their absences last? Will the series introduce new characters for Aphra to interact with/team-up with? Will Sana be coming aboard (please, please, please)? Or will she be running it solo for awhile? No matter the answer, the events within issue #12 leave giant ramifications for the series going forward and it’s not even the final issue of this arc!
I guess it was never confirmed the murderbots informed Vader of Aphra’s continued existence, so I was still surprised a bit when Triple-Zero reveals they didn’t mention her, just a gaggle of criminals were meeting and Vader could get them all in one fell swoop if he visited. Part of me still believes Vader has an inkling Aphra could be alive, but then again, he couldn’t sense/figure out Leia/Luke were his children even when meeting them so anything is possible, so for now Aphra’s safe and he has yet to realize she lives. Next issue will tackle that situation, as she tries to make her getaway while Vader’s distracted by battling Rur! Though a battle between the two seemed certain, I didn’t know how much I wanted it until they squared off at the end here and I’m looking forward to the battle next issue.
As sizable as events were in Doctor Aphra #12, it was the small things that really made me love the issue (and Aphra even more), though that’s been the charm of this series in the first place. Of course, some the most entertaining smaller bits include Aphra’s flippant responses: Aphra’s response to a broken server droid’s offer of a drink, “Oh yes, many yeses.”; after the death of a Shadow University’s dean, “Hey, guys, you need new bait. This one has died.” Also, her pleading to Krrsantan to talk her out of doing something good for once left me with a six-pack I was laughing so hard (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little), while said decision was a curious and exciting one. That she tried to save Toov and is going to procure the Shadow University’s ship to preserve its priceless artifacts is certainly behavior we know she’s capable of, she’s just reluctant to act such a way. The smaller enjoyments weren’t all just Kieron Gillen’s solid, expert writing, per usual, it also came from the art team’s work.
Kev Walker, penciler, Marc Deering, inks, and Antonio Fabela, colors, have earned my love a while back and this was another great issue for them. It started early with the super creepy close-ups of Triple-Zero as he blackmails the murderbots to freedom, with the eerie glow from the sun behind him and his seemingly pulsing, unyielding red eyes being the stuff nightmares are made of; in particular, as mentioned above, the two droids gleefully displaying their murder weapons is a true keeper. On top of that, their many faces of Aphra were top-notch, from smirks, disgust, fear, and resignation she’s in over her head, her personality beyond words was brought to life. And the final panel of Vader and Rur facing off? Should be quite the show next issue.
Here are a few other things:
- The sales of August’s comics have arrived and while the two issues of Jason Aaron’s final run out last month cracked the top ten, Aphra #11 and Annual #1 reached 50 and 52, respectively. While I’m not worried about this series just yet, even beyond the currently planned 25 issues, if you can show your support of the series by coming out and buying each issue, please do so!
- Assistant Editor Heather Antos promised some special guests for this issue’s “Doctor’s Notes” aka the letters page and she truly delivered: the murderbots! Curious first thing for them to do once free, but hey, nothing like answering fan-mail when you’re a pair of homicidal maniacs looking to really boost that diabolical ego!
- I have one very small quibble, but considering the Shadow University’s ship was in the lower levels and Aphra likely took the elevator down, shouldn’t Rur’s saber slashed through the top of elevator instead of the bottom? Or was Aphra below it and going up and he jumped up after her, though the panel before, with him tearing open the doors, implies he’ll be jumping down after her. In the end, minor thing, just odd is all.
- In case you missed it, Kieron Gillen will be co-writing this series with Si Spurrier with issue #14, while Emilio Laiso will take over on art. The former, I’m intrigued by, the latter I am worried by, as I wasn’t a big fan of Laiso’s Rogue One adaptation work, but I did like his Star Wars Annual #2 work, but we’ll just have to wait and see!
- Fellow Aphra fan Bria of Tosche-Station is just as excited and surprised as I was by this big issue, and if we all join in asking for the next issue now with her, maybe it’ll happen? Say it together now: “Please!”
- UPDATE: Aphra is jumping from comics into the pages of a book! While it’s not her own novel (damn), it is an appearance in the upcoming 40th Anniversary book, Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, a collection of stories told from background characters during the events of A New Hope (originally announced in April). Her story will be written by, who else, Kieron Gillen! I didn’t need another reason to pick the novel up, but I’ve certainly pre-ordered it now considering Aphra will be in it! Want to know who else will star in it and missed out on the announcements today on Twitter? Trust Jedi-Bibliothek to have collected it all for you! The book releases October 3 and remember all the authors have forgone compensation and all proceeds benefit a charity so there’s basically no reason now not to buy it.
Doctor Aphra #12 is an immense issue for the series, bringing some bold, exciting, and irreversible changes the good doctor’s way!
+ Murderbots blackmail to freedom
+ Krrsantan is so out of here now he has what he wants
+ Vader. Aphra. Ancient Jedi consciousness Rur. All stuck on a space station together. This is where the fun begins.
+ Big, pivotal issue
STAR WARS CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
Aphra (#1-6) | And the Enormous Profit: #9 | #10 | #11 | Annual: #1
The Screaming Citadel (crossover of Doctor Aphra and Star Wars 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) | Out Among the Stars (#33-37) | Annual: #1 | #2
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)
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)
Jedi of the Republic – Mace Windu (miniseries)
Captain Phasma (miniseries)
Darth Maul (miniseries)
Han Solo (miniseries)
Rogue One (adaptation)
Obi-Wan & Anakin (miniseries)
Shattered Empire (miniseries)
Princess Leia (miniseries)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (miniseries)