Since Marvel started publishing Star Wars comics again as part of Disney’s purchase of the franchise one of the break out characters has been Doctor Chelli Lona Aphra. First introduced in Marvel’s 2015 Darth Vader series Doctor Aphra has become one of the fan favorites. Her background and connection to Darth Vader has made her someone fans just want to know more about and see go on more adventures. So with this being May The Fourth Marvel and Star Wars are putting out a new Doctor Aphra series. I haven’t had the chance to read all of Doctor Aphra’s comics but from what I’ve read of her previous series and appearances in Darth Vader I could not pass up the chance at starting her new comic book series. How will this new Doctor Aphra series start out? Let’s find out with Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1.
Writer: Alyssa Wong
Artist: Marika Cresta
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Sometime after the Empire’s defeat of the Rebel Alliance during the Battle of Hoth some Stormtroopers prepare Rebel contraband to be transported.
On the way to the meet up point the driver takes a different direction which causes one of the Stormtroopers to get suspicious.
Suddenly Black Krrsantan and Tubleek Ruz appear and gun down two Stormtroopers. The transport driver is revealed to be Doctor Checci Aphra and she immediately shoots the remaining Stormtrooper.
Tubleek Ruz then turns on Doctor Aphra, saying that the bounty on Doctor Aphra’s head is worth more than the Rebel contraband they just stole. Tubleek Ruz calls Doctor Aphra out for changing and becoming trusting.
Just as Tubleek Ruz says that he gets shot in the face by Just Lucky. Doctor Aphra then says she hasn’t changed at all.
Just Lucky tells Doctor Aphra she is gutsy for double crossing the Empire and friends. Doctor Aphra says she is full of guts as she finds something of great value.
An AT-AT Walker starts approaching Doctor Aphra’s group. Doctor Aphra and her crew immediately go to their ship, the Ark Angel III. With the AT-AT Walker starting to fire on them Doctor Aphra makes the decision to ditch the cargo they were unable to load up so they can take off immediately.
Sometime later at the Shadow University in the Outer Rim, Doctor Aphra negotiates with a dealer, Sava Estat, to give her a good price on a special item she found.
Later Doctor Aphra celebrates with her crew. As they drink Doctor Aphra thinks about how not many people are offering jobs and the people she loved are out of her life.
Suddenly a woman named Detta Yao, a university student who attended one of Doctor Aphra’s lectures, approaches Doctor Aphra and geeks out over her work. Detta Yao says she is working on a dissertation on the Rings of Vaale, which is rumored to give the wearer eternal life and boundless fortune. She goes on to say that her department isn’t willing to fund her work because most doubt their existence and the rumors of a curse around it.
With how much money there is to be had Doctor Aphra agrees to help Detta Yao. Detta Yao says that Doctor Eustacia Okka is the only one that’s written about the Rings of Vaale. Doctor Aphra gets nervous when she hears that name.
Later, at the Ruins of Kolkur, Doctor Aphra and her crew, along with Detta Yao, meet up with Doctor Eustacia, who turns out to be a former classmate of Doctor Aphra. Doctor Eustacia shows some animosity with Doctor Aphra. Detta Yao says they are there to talk about the Rings of Vaale. Doctor Eustacia says she is not interested in any sort of treasure hunt and turned down Ronen Tagge offer earlier about it.
Suddenly Ronen Tagge’s gang show up to say that Doctor Eustacia is coming with them whether she likes it or not. Doctor Aphra recognizes one of the members of Ronen Tagge’s gang, Kiehart. Kiehart tells Doctor Aphra not to interfere since she doesn’t know anything about teamwork. Doctor Aphra agrees and shoots down one of the chandeliers in the ruins.
This gives Doctor Aphra and Eustacia a chance to take cover. One of Tagge’s gang grabs Detta Yao to hold her captive. Detta Yao quickly stabs the guy with a retractable knife she had in her sleeve.
With Ronen Tagge’s constant gunfire forcing them to fire defensively Doctor Eustacia activates some robots. This allows Doctor Aphra and her crew to escape with Doctor Eustacia.
Later, in the Ark Angel III, Doctor Aphra and Eustacia go over how the Tagges are one of the wealthiest families in the Empire. Doctor Aphra mentions that Ronen Tagge is so bad that even she won’t do business with him. Doctor Eustacia mentions that because of the attack she can’t finish studying the Ruins of Kolkur.
Detta Yao approaches Doctor Eustacia to compliment her on all her work. Doctor Aphra silently compliments Detta Yao’s ability to get people to her side. Doctor Aphra then promises to give Doctor Eustacia sole credit on their discovery. Hearing that Doctor Eustacia agrees to team-up.
Doctor Eustacia then goes over the legend of the Rings of Vaale, specifically on how the rumored curse corrupted the entire planet it was located on because of its great power. Doctor Aphra doesn’t believe the legend given her experiences with similar things, like a Jedi ghost that turned out to be a computer program. She then sets course with Black Krrsantan for Dianth.
Just Lucky tells Detta Yao that Doctor Aphra is right because they should be worried more about the threat the Tagge family poses more than the rumored curse.
Over at Ronen Tagge’s private penthouse on Canto Bight has brought two master artists to get their opinion on which art piece that he bought is superior. The artists plead that the other is the better artists.
Tagge’s gang enters the penthouse to tell him that they failed to retain Doctor Eustacia because she escaped with Doctor Aphra. Ronen Tagge is not happy to hear Doctor Aphra’s name.
Pissed off Ronen Tagge tells his gang to place the two art pieces he bought in a special chamber. He then obliterates the two art pieces while saying he is now the last person to touch both masterpieces, much to the two master artists’ shock.
Ronen Tagge then tells his gang to disperse the fleet to find Doctor Eustacia. He then says he wants to also settle an old debt with Doctor Aphra and her crew. End of issue.
The Good: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1 is a good set-up issue. It gets you right back into the Star Wars Universe and pushes forward with the plot around the Rings of Vaale everyone is after. At the same time, some of the continuity heavy elements of this issue may turn some people off who don’t know Doctor Aphra’s history.
Starting out in the aftermath of the Battle of Hoth is a strong way to kick off Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1. This will be a familiar setting for any Star Wars fan to see. It builds on the nostalgia of the movie and shows us some of the aftermath of the battle through the eyes of other characters. The Rebel items being looked through by the Empire makes sense as they know they have their opposition against the ropes by this point.
This also gives Alyssa Wong the immediate opportunity to give you a timeline of when Star Wars Doctor Aphra #1 takes place. This positions the series well to play side-by-side with the current main Star Wars series that also began right after Empire Strikes Back. This gives greater unity for the entire Star Wars line for those following more than just one title.
It also gives Wong the chance to give us a look at this time period in the Star Wars Universe through the eyes of Doctor Aphra and her crew. This in particular is important as Doctor Aphra and her crew bring a completely different perspective with what is going on in the galaxy. As we see throughout this issue, Doctor Aphra’s crew are a for-hire rebels who are on their own side as they look to make money to get buy. It’s a refreshing viewpoint at the greater Star Wars Universe.
Wong also dives deeper into the greater mythology of the Star Wars Universe with the Rings of Vaale. As soon as the Rings of Vaale are introduced Wong starts to explore how there are other powerful things in the universe beyond the Jedi and Sith. This allows for a greater exploration of the history and culture of the current Star Wars Universe after Empire Strikes Back on a different level than the movies or main comic book series.
Doctor Aphra is a great character to be the driving force for this type of exploration of the Star Wars Universe. With everything she went through because of her previous connection with Darth Vader and what all that led to she is at a point where she is not choosing sides. Where we find Doctor Aphra is very much at a point where she is in it to survive by making sure she and her crew can make the most money possible to survive.
Playing into the state of the universe post-Empire Strikes Back we do see how going with that direction Doctor Aphra has found herself in a tough spot. She is doing all she can to find jobs and items that will at least pay her current crew and still have a living for herself. Having her at this point in her life makes Doctor Aphra a character that is easy to root for. And being a character that doesn’t appear in the movies it gets you more invested in where this beginning will take her.
Throughout establishing Doctor Aphra’s character Wong does a good job showing her different layers. Wong goes between the light hearted and hardened parts of her characters without making her seem to be all over the place. You easily see why she is well liked but also has her fair of enemies at the same time.
Wong also does a good job in establishing the entire cast of this series. While characters like Just Lucky and Black Krrsantan get very little on screen time or dialogue there is enough to show their chemistry with Doctor Aphra. Hopefully we see more of them on screen and shown what makes them strong additions to this series’ cast.
Detta Yao is definitely the standout of these new characters. Wong writes the character in a natural way that makes her come across as giving a new perspective on the adventure for the Ring of Vaale that she starts. As a university student she is still learning. And being around both Doctor Aphra and Eustacia will be a good chance for her to grow.
The history between Doctor Aphra and Eustacia was also interesting to see begin to be tapped into. We get a good idea that they are not on the best of terms. But at the very least they still trust each other enough to work together for this journey to get the Ring of Vaale. What direction we see their relationship go will be interesting to see as Wong has a lot of ways she can develop Doctor Eustacia.
Having Ronen Tagge and his mafia family acting as the big antagonist on this search for the Ring of Vaale was a good choice to show how we are delving into a different part of the Star Wars Universe. We’ve seen through Last Jedi and other movies how there are different types of people taking advantage of this war between the Empire and Rebels. Ronen Tagge using his family’s power to track down Doctor Aphra and her crew opens up the opportunity to explore this corner of the Star Wars Universe.
Marika Cresta provides Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1 with solid artwork throughout the issue. She does a good job bringing the larger than life aspect of the Star Wars Universe to life. The different settings that we see throughout this issue play well into how expansive the universe is. And Cresta delivers on showing how different each setting is through her artwork. This gives you a good idea that we will be visiting a lot of different places throughout this journey.
The Bad: As enjoyable as Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1 is this is not going to be the comic book for everyone. You do need to have at least some idea of who Doctor Aphra is going into this issue. As the series goes along it would be good to see more of not only Doctor Aphra’s past but her crew. This will help bring readers into this series that is filled with characters that Star Wars fans who have not read the Marvel line of books.
Overall: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1 delivers a fun start to a new journey in the Star Wars Universe. Alyssa Wong and Marika Cresta do a very good job in making Doctor Aphra and her supporting cast all engaging characters you want to see how their journey develops. If you are a Star Wars fan looking for to dive deeper into the mythology this comic book from Marvel is a good way to do just that.
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