Review: Marvel’s Doctor Aphra #3 by David Marshall

Published by: Marvel Comics

Release date: January 18, 2016

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Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artist: Kev Walker

Coloring: Antonio Fabela

Introduced during the Vader run, Doctor Aphra has become a fan favorite for many, and this issue is only solidifying the case. After discovering her father suspended her doctorate (so what do we call her now?), Chelli (!) Aphra joins him in a search for the Ordu Aspectu, a group of warriors supposedly wiped out by the Jedi. Of course, the actual history is blurred at best (and Doctor Aphra #2 details this quite humorously), so the frustration Aphra feels towards her father is quite understandable (and hits close to home later on).

The end of issue #2 brings them to Yavin 4, which between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back has become occupied by the Empire, unbeknownst to the parties involved. In fact, we find Aphra’s father is so removed from current events he not only was unaware of a Rebel base existing on the moon, but we also discover he still was under the impression the Death Star was a myth, that the destruction of Jedha was not an act of terrorism.

Eventually, the team manages to construct a plan to get onto the base without the Empire detecting them, leaving Black Krrsantan to clean up the mess. Aphra’s dad seems to find that to be unfair, but as we see later, it’s only unfair to the Empire: they never stood a chance to begin with. The mood drastically changes when, after solving a puzzle of sorts, nothing happens, and in a moment of vulnerability, Aphra confronts her father in a moment of deserved anger: “If you loved living people half as much as you love dead things, you’d probably be the best dad in the world.” Ouch.

Before the conversation can progress, however, the crystals do their magic, and a door opens, revealing the location of what appears to be the citadel. Now the question remains: will this new discovery lead to the truth of the Ordu Aspectu? Or will it simply be a red herring, leading to more strife and anger in the Aphra family? I have a feeling we will know soon enough, but my guess is we may still have to wait a few issues before this arc is wrapped up.

As with the previous issues, and with the Darth Vader series, Gillen does a great job crafting characters you don’t have to try to care about. BT and 0-0-0 are as delightfully evil as usual, and while it would have been nice to see a relationship between a child and his/her mother fleshed out in the Star Wars universe, I can say it’s a nice change of pace compared to Luke/Vader or Jyn/Galen. The arguments they have are relatable as well; I know I won’t be the only parent who reads this issue and feels convicted to a certain degree. Finally, the artwork is beautiful and works well with the story; Walker and Fabela are a great duo and manage to truly bring these characters and landscapes to life.

Conclusion: If you aren’t reading this series yet, you’re doing yourself a disservice. While the proof is in the pudding, I have little reason to doubt the payoff will be worth it in the end; a feeling that, despite my enjoyment, I have not been able to extend to the current Poe Dameron series. Only time will tell.

Random musings:

• It’s nothing new, but I’m loving the interconnectedness of it all. Seeing Aphra Sr.’s reaction to Jedha’s destruction was apropos with Rogue One’s recent release.

• On that note, I’m wondering how common knowledge the destruction of the Death Star was at this point and if people still thought Jedha was an accident. I’m sure news would have circulated, but who knows how many people would have believed something like the Death Star could have actually existed? Aphra Sr.’s reaction makes me think plenty of people would have balked at the idea.

• Let’s pray Captain Tolvan sticks around for a while. Not just because she’s a woman, but  because I’m always on board with competent Imperial antagonists.

• As of late, my favorite lines always belong to droids. “I loathe making small talk with career droids.” “Oh, hello, IT-O. Big fan of your work.”

• I also know I’m not the first to think it, but I can’t help but read 0-0-0’s lines with Creepio’s voice.

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