Doctor Chelli Lona Aphra does not play the hero. She is an archaeologist who is out to do her job and get paid. She has had run-ins with both the Galactic Empire and the Alliance to Restore the Republic. She was under the employ of Darth Vader and also owed the Rebels a favor.
As a rogue archaeologist looking for artifacts to make credits, she has only one allegiance and that is to herself. Does that make her a villain? I’d let you be the judge of that, constant reader. But to me, the good doctor is a capitalist. A spunky and geeky opportunist. She is just trying to survive and make bank. This latest issue is no different but little does Aphra know, she is about to encounter someone from the Star Wars Legends universe.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
Our intrepid and morally fluid Doctor Aphra and the smuggler Sana STarros (an “ex wife” of Han Solo) finds themselves yet in another pickle. They are trying to steal the Nihil hyperdrive from a rival industrialist named Beol De’Rryet for Domina Tagge. Tagge wants the engine for herself so that she can maintain her contract with the Galactic Empire since her family builds ships for the dictatorial government. Her concern is If her rival succeeds in using the Nihil hyperdrive for his ships, her company would be in financial ruin and De’Rryet’s company De’Rryet Industries would become wealthy.
If you are a diehard “Star Wars” fan and have been following the new canon, you would know that the Nihil are a group of marauders who terrorized the citizens of the High Republic and had run-ins with the knights of the Jedi Order. As a fan, you would also know that Domina Tagge is related to Imperial Officer Cassio Tagge from “Star Wars: A New Hope.” In the Legend continuity, Domina and Cassio were siblings.
“Doctor Aphra no.10” takes place at a demonstration with the Nihil hyperdrive engine on the planet Midarr. At this point, if you read “Doctor Aphra,” you, along with the titular archaeologist, knew that the demonstration involving the engine was going to go awry no matter what transpired because the “Nihil hyperdrive” is fake and would explode if utilized. Aphra knows this but she plans on stealing the engine to make money. She and Starros go the De’Rryrt’s demonstration disguised as interns and try to steal the blueprints to hyperdrive from the industrialist’s office. However, De’Rryrt catches them and even worse, the Unbroken Clan’s General Vukorah enters into the picture. The ruthless general also wants the engine for herself, not knowing that it is fake.
Still trapped in the office, Aphra plans to cut her losses and run but Starros convinces her to help save the engineers at De’Rryrt Industries who are being killed one-by-one by Vukorah. She does this by bringing up Aphra’s former lover, Magna Tolvan, a former Imperial turned Rebel. Aphra’s moral fluidity comes into play when she decides to save the engineers while stealing the engine path inside the fake engine.
Usinger her skills as a slicer and archaeologist, Aphra works on stealing the engine path from the fake engine while Vukorah has her blaster to her head. Despite a few hiccups, the team of Aphra and Starros pulls off their plans of saving the engineers (with a little help from Imperial Stormtroopers) and stealing the crystal core of the path engine. As a result of the blaster fire between the Imperial Stormtroopers and the Unbroken Clan, the ship that had the fake engine explodes. As a result, De’Rryrt Industries ends up in financial ruin.
When Aphra and Starros return to Domina Tagge’s ship, the Acquisitor, the former tells the industrialist that although the engine exploded, De’Rryrt Industries being finished should be a big win. However, Tagge is not satisfied since she wanted the engine for herself and she makes her disappointment felt when she traps Starros in a containment field. While Starros suffocates, Aphra relents by giving Tagge the crystal core of the path engine she stole. The industrialist frees Starros and tells the duo of their next mission to go after Ebann Drake, her cousin, who is an arms smuggler who went missing after mentioning an opportunity he was invited to take part in. After Aphra and Starros leave, Domina Tagge receives news that there is a mole inside her company and is concerned that if more leaks get out, it could ruin her company.
As Aphra and Starros go off to their next mission to find Ebann Drake, unbeknownst to them, the bounty hunter Durge is not far behind.
As I read “Doctor Aphra,” I noticed that in several comic issues, Alyssa Wong had created a bridge between “Doctor Aphra” and “Star Wars: The High Republic.” The Nihil made their debut in the novel “Star Wars: The High Republic – Light of the Jedi.” And the Nihil were the most ruthless villains since Yuuzhan Vong from the “Star Wars Legends” continuity. They would raid ships and kill anyone onboard. As mentioned before, they went toe to toe with the Jedi. By putting in a High Republic artifact in this issue, Wong reminds us how important the High Republic era was to the new “Star Wars” lore. Wong also brought back an old “Star Wars Legends” character Durge.
I must confess that although Duege is my least favorite character, it was great to see another Legend character become canon. My reason for my dislike for Durge is because he’s immortal. Durge was a bounty hunter that lived for a millennia due to experiments done on him which made him immortal. If you watched the 2003 “Star Wars: Clone Wars” series directed and produced by Genndy Tartakovsky, the bounty hunter took many lightsaber strikes by Obi-Wan Kenobi and still did not go down. As I write this, I wonder if we will learn more about Durge and his Canon origins. Perhaps he probably lived during the High Republic era.
After reading the 10 issues of the post “Empire Strikes Back” “Doctor Aphra,” Wong has made me grow to like the character. Because of this, I am planning on reading the previous 40 issues of the post “A New Hope” “Doctor Aphra. Aphra is a very likeable character due to her moral fluidity and her unpredictable nature. You really cannot tell what is going on in that brilliant and crazy mind of hers. She shares those traits with DC Comics’ Harley Quinn. Both are very intelligent and see things in shades of grey rather than black and white. Both also had adverse childhoods that shaped them. And both are very resourceful even if they are cornered albet it while being eccentric.
There were a few things about the comic that were a little off was the side story involving the smuggler and mercenary Just Lucky and his partner Ariole. In the first couple issues, it made sense to have Just Lucky since he was working for (and against) Doctor Aphra however, in issue no. 10, his story involves doing business with the Sixth Kin, a criminal organization operated by Wen Delphis, a crime lord in the city of Canto Bight, on the planet Cantonica (seen in “Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi”). Lucky has to work for the organization to help absolve his brother’s debt after his employment with Ronen Tagge, Domina’s nephew was terminated due to the latter’s accident caused by Aphra. It seems that Lucky’s story comes full circle with Aphra’s which may be the case since the smuggler and his partner are being assigned to an “exclusive event” to find a former Sixth Kin lieutenant. Another thing that was off was that I kept asking myself how this issue ties into “War of the Bounty Hunters.” Besides Durge, I was hoping that Aphra or Starros got news of the bounty on Boba Fett for losing the carbonite frozen Han Solo. I would think that at the very least, Starros would want to go after Fett to get her “ex-husband” back with Aphra tagging along (because Aphra needs money). Maybe we might see that in the next couple issues but there was not even a small reference to the bounty on Fett which was broadcast throughout the galaxy.
The art done in “Doctor Aphra” is as witty and eccentric as the titular character. I love Aphra’s comic facial expressions done by Ray-Anthony Height especially when Starros tries to convince her to do the right thing. Other favorite scenes that involve those facial expressions are when Aphra boasts about her skills as a slicer and archaeologist to Vukorah who is clearly not amused and when she presents her case of blowing up the engine to Domina. I also enjoyed the scene where Aphra narrowly escapes the yellow containment field set by Tagge while Starros becomes trapped. We can see Aphra leaping out of the way while the trapped Starros has a surprised look on her face.
If Doctor Aphra and Sana Starros encounter Durge, what will happen? Will Aphra annoy him (which I would love to see her do) while studying him like an old relic from past generations. Will Durge unleash hell like he did against the Clones in the Pre-Disey “Star Wars: Clone Wars?” And how will they all get mixed into the “War of the Bounty Hunters?”
“Star Wars: Doctor Aphra no. 10” is available at your local comic book shop or wherever comic books are sold.
Synopsis: Prelude to “War of the Bounty Hunters”: “The Invitation.” Doctor Aphra and Sana Starros find themselves cornered by Vukorah and the Unbroken Clan! Can they pull off a daring escape–even if that means surrendering the Nihil hyperdrive?And what sets them on a collision course with one of the most deadly BOUNTY HUNTERS in the galaxy?
- Writer: Alyssa Wong
- Penciler: Ray-Anthony Height
- Inker: Victor Olazaba
- Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
- Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramanga
- Publisher: Marvel