From Marvel Comics, Disney, LucasFilm. Written by Kieron Gillen. Pencils by Kev Walker. Inks by Kev Walker and Marc Deering. Colors by Antonio Fabela. Art on backup story by Salvador Larroca. Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna.
The simple concept of Doctor Aphra is a female Indiana Jones having adventures a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. But she’s also a bad guy. And she is one of the greatest Star Wars creations outside of the movies. Arguably better than many in the movies as well. A rogue in the ignoble sense. She’s also compelling, interesting, exciting, and best of all in a Star Wars comic – unpredictable with consequences.
Any Star Wars tale that features main characters in between or before the events of the movies has to deal with the bantha in the room. The comic cannot kill these characters. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and everyone else can’t die in the comic. No matter what situation the writers and artists put them in – the reader deep down knows death is not an option.
Then here comes Doctor Aphra. She upsets the Rebels and the Empire. Darth Vader himself can’t decide whether to kill her or damn her to a life of pain and punishment. Her entire supporting cast including villainous wookies (Black Krrsantan) and murderous droids (0-0-0 and BT-1) and other heroes, villains, and questionable from across the galaxy. And nearly all of them are original characters with no guarantee of life off the comic page. It brings a sense of drama and unpredictability to the Force.
This collection features the first six issues of her solo series. Aphra first appeared in the Darth Vader starring book and then spun off into this starring and successful comic. Inside these pages she justifies all of her decisions for her own piece of mind (and the reader as well). Those choices result in people hating her and sometimes she gets burned as well.
Her way of life brings an acceptance of consequences, even death. Every turn that doesn’t go her way is leaned into. I’m going to die some day, maybe it’s today, but I’ll keep fighting and scheming just in case it isn’t. For every person who lies to her or manipulates her she shrugs her shoulders. It’s difficult to complain about someone being shady when your own shadow is so well known.
The book also does a great job of working within the established Star Wars universe while breaking new ground. New characters, planets, even the McGuffin of that which went away with a long dead civilization. On our own planet over hundreds if not thousands of years there are many tribes lost to history. Multiply that by a galaxy and this comic doesn’t skirt exploring those infinite possibilities.
Doctor Aphra brings a type of character that couldn’t headline a series back in 1977. Some of that attitude continues through to today. If she or any character was created solely to check off a box that could be an argument. However the good Doctor is a compelling new addition to the decades old mythology and will only grow in popularity. It’s always fun to love the conflicted villain.