Canon Comic Review: Doctor Aphra #17

Doctor Aphra #17

– Spoiler Review –

Aphra and her crew of ne’er-do-wells hatch a foolproof plan, which includes kidnapping a familiar character from a certain animated show, to break into the highest security Tarkin Initiative base around, making the latest entry in the “Remastered” arc, Doctor Aphra #17, another top-notch blast in Marvel’s best.

Doctor Aphra 17 Full CoverTasked with retrieving Triple-Zero’s memories from Hivebase-1, the highest of high security facilities in the secretive Tarkin Initiative, Aphra comes up with one of her crazier plans, which is saying something because every plan she has is pretty damn crazy, and it involves finding a bargaining chip to get into the base instead of blasting their way in. Her best idea for such a chip is kidnapping a high ranking member of the Rebel Alliance, and who better than a General, on such short notice? And out of all the Generals in all the Rebellion, Aphra ends up kidnapping…Hera FREAKING Syndulla!! Hera of Star Wars Rebels fame was originally teased to be in the “Remastered” arc when the solicitations for March revealed issue #18’s cover had Hera on the front, so I was expecting her to show up next issue, not this one, and instead got the pleasant surprise of seeing here! Considering we know Hera makes it to at least Return of the Jedi, I’m not terribly worried about her here, but I am curious to see how and when she manages to get back to the Rebellion after all this. Other questions I had include where is Chopper and the Ghost? And did Aphra and the crew go looking for an easy place to find a high ranking official of the Rebellion or did she/they know it would be Hera? Regardless, the most interesting aspect to Hera’s inclusion is what she’s actually up to at the flight training school, which is aboard a Trade Federation Lucrehulk starship (aka like the one Anakin blew up in The Phantom Menace), a really cool visual and intriguing use of old Separatist materials, as Rotation General. It seems the school rotates through Rebellion Generals, but unlike the other ones, Hera locks herself away from the world and uses the droid control function on the ship (which is why Anakin’s deed helped saved Naboo, if you recall) to take over multiple trainee ships via their astromechs when they run into trouble. Sure, this sounds like Hera, the protective mom who wants to help everyone, but it also screams of someone who is throwing themselves into their work, so they don’t have to think about anything else. One very likely thing she’s trying to forget is a recent development in the final half of Star Wars Rebels‘ 4th season (full spoilers at that link) and potentially more heartbreak is on the way? Or she’s reeling from the loses at Scarif, despite their victory over the Death Star? Or all the above? I don’t know if we’ll get to dive much more into Hera’s mental state, but despite all of the Aphra series’ levity, there are many emotive moments as well, so we could go down that path.

But Hera appearing in Doctor Aphra isn’t the sole reason why issue #17 is another joyous entry in the irreverent series, and there are numerous ones this issue, but the next we’ll tackle is the continuation of Aphra and Inspector Tolvan’s potential relationship. After their kiss (I’m still geeking out about that) in the previous issue, another one happens here, but it’s part of a bigger, more interesting moment between the two women. For starters, remember how I was curious if Tolvan not only killed the wolf-woman, but skinned her and wore the pelt to sneak aboard Aphra’s shuttle? Aphra asks Tolvan this and, though she doesn’t outright say yes, she basically confirms she did, and the fact Aphra still wants to be with Tolvan tells you a lot about both of them right there! In a way, their conversation is in reverse to the one they had in issue #14, where Aphra, broken a bit by the situation she’s in, confesses her loneliness and then interest in Tolvan, who wasn’t quite disillusioned with the Empire yet. This time Tolvan is the one who comes to confess, mainly about her lack of fulfillment in her position to Aphra, and confirms what the kiss told us all last issue, but Tolvan is still married to order and self-constraint, keeping these two from getting any closer…for now. But that both Aphra and Tolvan are considering what life would be like in a new career, potentially together, shows Aphra is breaking through the Imperial’s heart, piece by piece, and Aphra being torn up about leaving Tolvan behind, haunted by her final words to Tolvan, shows Tolvan is helping Aphra rethink her life a little as well. The idea that, somewhere inside, these two women are a bit broken but have found ways to fulfill what they’ve felt is missing in their hearts, is a beautiful one if it means they can truly mend what’s broken by coming together instead of the avenues they’ve already chosen. I am rooting like all hell for these two and can’t wait to see the next development in this potential relationship!

The fantastic stuff doesn’t end there, however! There’s finally seeing Sister Six’s gun-slinging abilities, a hilarious usage of Bog’s lack of a head, everyone keeping the lawman Polsa out of the loop (including his boyfriend, whose sass against Polsa for sulking was funny as hell), Hera blowing Flufto to hell, the final panel of Hera tied up with a bow on her head (I am dead serious and it’s freaking hilarious), and of course Dek-[Nil]’s insanity. Dek’s strange but beautiful connection to some special tune of the universe is one of the most bizarre things in a series full of them, but I absolutely love it, as I’m a sucker for Rube Goldberg machines and Dek has essentially set some up these past two issues and I can’t wait to see what else it manages to exploit while in tune with the universe. One could say, for Dek, the future isn’t always in motion!

Curious thing to note: Tolvan says Vader deleted Aphra from the records. Was this before he hired her, to keep her secret from the Empire, or after he ejected her out an airlock? If the latter, could that mean he really did know Aphra would survive, but it would allow him to make it look like he killed her to the Emperor? I’m still on board with that line of thinking, as I love the idea he decided to give her a chance to live, though I’ve taken Vader’s line about sensing an infuriating presence in issue #13 as him not knowing she survived. Maybe we’ll know, one day.

Kieron Gillen was already rocking the Doctor Aphra series and things have only gotten better since Simon “Si” Spurrier joined as co-writer, so whatever wavelength these two are on together, keep it up! The art team of Emilio Laiso (art) and Rachelle Rosenberg (colors) continue to deliver bright and splashy pages, full of expressive faces, though the lack of details in some aspects of background is a little odd.

Here are a few other things:

  • Doctor Aphra Vintage Collection FigureAt this year’s Toy Fair, Hasbro showed off a bunch of upcoming figures for Star Wars, including, and most importantly, the Doctor Aphra Vintage Collection figure!!! (via CoffeeWithKenobi) After winning the Fan Poll last year, and the mold shown off a few months later, we finally get to see the full Dr. Aphra toy in all its glory! I can’t seem to find a specific month or anything on when it will release, but it comes out sometime later this year and the moment I have a better idea on when exactly, I’ll mention it on the site and over on Twitter because I’m going to be buying a lot of this figurine because it totally belongs in my armory! Seriously, I can’t wait to have this figure, especially to place it next to the Triple-Zero and BT-1 figures I bought at Celebration Orlando last year (a posted a pic in my review of The Screaming Citadel #1), and I might plan on a giveaway. Regardless, check out the great looking toy in the picture to the right and be prepared to fight me in the aisles for it in the fall!
  • The meta joke about the droid control function for the battle droids being a giant liability was pretty amazing.
  • If Sana decides to start showing up in Aphra’s life after she and Tolvan manage to get together (if they do, mind you), I am going to be pissed…but will also sit back with a bucket of popcorn and enjoy the ensuing chaos.
  • Favorite line had to be Aphra’s, “And I am totally on board with repeat fraternization, fyi.”
  • I have to say, if Aphra was able to see everyone’s criminal records, I’m a little confused why the Rebellion so easily let her and the group of misfits with her in their facility. Maybe they’re getting a little lax or just could use whoever they can get, but it did seem to be brushed over too simply.

Doctor Aphra #17 is another prime example why you should be following the good doctor’s shenanigans, as it is some of the best Marvel has yet to offer.

+ Hera freaking Syndulla

+ Aphra and Tolvan figuring out what they really want

+ All the little bits of insanity, especially Dek-[Nil]

 The rebels really let this group in the facility so easily?

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

Doctor Aphra
Aphra (#1-6) | And the Enormous Profit (#9-13) | Remastered: #14 | #15 | #16 | Annual: #1

Darth Vader – Dark Lord of the Sith
The Chosen One (#1-6) | The Dying Light (#7-10) | The Rule of Five (#11-12)
Poe Dameron
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6) | The Gathering Storm (#7-13) |  Legend Lost (#14 – 16) | War Stories (#17-19) | Legend Found (#20-25) | Annual: #1
Star Wars
Ashes of Jedha (#38-43) | Annual: #3
One-Shots: The Last Jedi – Storms of Crait | The Last Jedi – DJ: Most Wanted

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