Review: Marvel’s Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #4

I think it’s safe to say at this point Marvel and Lucasfilm have created a fan favorite with Doctor Aphra. Part of it has to do with the unique nature of the character. There’s something endearing and intriguing about the “Indiana Jones” of the Star Wars universe. On the other hand, the character is also grounded and relatable. While this is less unique than the former point, it helps prove Gillen was the perfect choice for this series. Although Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #4 may be less action-packed than the previous issue, it is still as meaningful and moving as ever.

When we last saw our “heroes,” they were in awe of the lights beaming up from the numerous Massassi temples. At that time, we knew nothing of what this meant. Aphra Sr., however, doesn’t skip a beat and begins analyzing the phenomenon. We later learn these are coordinates to their next destination, but doing something with this information means surviving. Of course, Captain Tolvan and her Stormtroopers make this hard, and bringing along an AT-AT only exacerbates the problem. Thankfully, by not pursuing Krrsantan, he’s able to get the Ark Angel ready, and the team manages to escape relatively unscathed.

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This leaves Tolvan to report back to her superior, which we discover is none other than Admiral Ozzel. She mistakenly believes Doctor Aphra and her crew to be a part of the Rebel Alliance and feels the skirmish to be good news. Ozzel then clues us into something I suspect no one was predicting: Tolvan was in charge of security during the raid on Eadu. As a result of what happened during Rogue One, Tolvan was assigned to Yavin 4 as punishment. After a quick reminder of Vader’s tendency to be less-than-forgiving, the captain gathers her troops to track down the “rebels.”

Back on the Ark Angel, Team Aphra set their coordinates for the Citadel of Rur. Aphra Sr. tries to open a line of communication with his daughter, even if it means being berated. However, she makes it clear she just wants to find the Ordu and get the ordeal over with. The coordinates do lead to the Citadel, but what they find inside is mixed at best. There definitely were people there at one point, but the key word being were. The temple is littered with skeletons and debris with no signs of life in sight.

While the jury may still be out, it does seem the Ordu Aspectu did exist after all. On the one hand, this somewhat justifies Aphra Sr.’s fascination with the ancient people. On the other hand, I think he is becoming more aware of the pain he caused his daughter through his distance. The fact he wants any sort of conversation with her, even if it means deprecation and insults, shows progress is being made. And this is what I feel is the strongest element of the series so far: relatability.

Let’s look at some of the major “parent/child” relationships: Luke and Leia were both children of a Jedi-turned-Sith who, at numerous points, wanted them both dead; they both tried to kill their father in return. Jyn lost her mom in a firefight, and for years, she believed her father to be dead, only to discover he had built a superweapon capable of destroying planets. And Boba Fett, while not necessarily a “typical” child, witnessed his father’s decapitation in front of his very eyes. These examples don’t necessarily scream everyday situations.

As for the Aphra family, apart from the “I’m going to get your doctorate revoked” incident, there’s a lot about their relationship that resonates with me. As a child of divorced parents, I know how it feels to feel like to have a parent missing from your life, how hard it is to go back to the way things were, especially when the offending party is the one trying to make things right. While my dad wasn’t out searching for the Ordu, he was out starting a new life without me, without my mom or sister. It took me years to forgive him after feeling abandoned. After what I believe to be only a few days, a week at most, it’s no wonder why the Doctor isn’t rushing to make up for lost time.

Conclusion:

Considering the Lucasfilm Story Group have brought in other ancient groups related to the Force recently (the Guardians of the Whills and Bendu being two of the more prominent examples), I think it’s a safe bet the Ordu will play an important role in the future. If this story was happening in the mainline Star Wars series, I wouldn’t be nearly as confident. However, Gillen has proven himself, time and time again, to be more than capable of writing compelling stories while still honoring the source material. Darth Vader proved there are still ways to flesh out pivotal characters without taking away from the original trilogy. At this point, it’s evident Doctor Aphra is doing the same.

Additional thoughts:

  • Per usual, BeeTee and Triple-Zero bring the comic relief (as evidenced above). They don’t play as prominent a role this time around, but I’m glad this is the case. I have yet to feel like they’ve become a nuisance or that they’ve overstayed their welcome. Krrsantan is the same way, providing the brute force when necessary, but in the end, this series is about the Doctor.
  • The artwork and coloring are great again, as well. Whereas exaggerated expressions wouldn’t work in every issue (Darth Maul, for example), Doctor Aphra, dare I say, requires them. Whether the moment is calling for solemnity or humor, Walker, Deering, and Fabela do not disappoint.
  • The Citadel of Rul ends up being almost identical to what we saw in issue #2 when Aphra Sr. recites the story of the Ordu. However, the similarities only extend to the shape of the planet (or is it a moon?). While issue #2 had a looming temple, issue #4’s buildings resemble a small city.
  • The skeletons in the Citadel have items in their hands that, at first glance, appear to be lightsabers, but I’m not entirely sure. The design are not the same as contemporary lightsabers and, compared to issue #2, resemble “Jedi” lightsabers in the first Ordu account (given by Aphra Sr.), the Ordu lightsabers in Doctor Aphra’s story. If you have any theories, I’d love to hear them!

Pick up Marvel’s Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #4 now from Amazon.

Published by: Marvel Comics

Release date: February 8, 2017

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Pencils: Kev Walker

Inks: Marc Deering

Colors: Antonio Fabela

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