Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Doctor Aphra #2 Takes a Look Back

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Doctor Aphra #1 reintroduced us to our favorite evil archaeologist in Star Wars, along with her merry band of killer sidekicks. We also got to meet dear old dad, who appears to have revoked his own daughter’s status as a doctor of archaeology. What is his motive? How will Aphra react? Will Triple-Zero kill Aphra’s father? Will Aphra try to stop him?

The answers to these and more questions are in Doctor Aphra #2.

Looking for Answers

We open with a flashback to eighteen years ago. A young Aphra is laying waste to one of dad’s archaeological finds. It would seem she feels like her family comes in second to his thirst for knowledge.

Define “issues”…

Back to the present where Aphra’s frustration with her father is just as palpable. He leaked her transgression from the backup story in Doctor Aphra #1. Aphra took some morally grey means to pass her doctoral program and now it’s come back to bite her.

Now that dear old dad has her attention, he wants Aphra to help him find an ancient subsect of Jedi. (This would appear to be the same thing he was searching for in the flashback). Aphra threatens him with torture at the hands of Triple-zero, but ultimately she can’t do it to her own dad. She reluctantly agrees to go along with it even though she finds his ideas about the civilization he’s searching for highly questionable.

They take off in Aphra’s ship following her father’s coordinates and come to a planet with several moons. Dad explains that it’s the forested moon they want, and that it’s so remote there’s no way anyone else would be there. Of course, anyone who knows anything about Star Wars knows that forested moons often happen to be strategic points of interest.

They land and start scouting, but Surprise! It’s not as remote and empty as they thought. In fact, it’s a major site in Star Wars lore. Can you guess?

Yup, it’s that bad.

Expanding the Star Wars Universe

When Disney took the reins of Lucasfilm, they struck out most of the Expanded Universe canon. Books, comics, video games…a lot of material was scratched from the “official” canon and rebranded as “Legends”. Some fans were not happy with this, but it is what it is.

Now, Doctor Aphra is starting to take a peek into the long history of Jedi and Sith for the first time since the new canon. Players of the Bioware Old Republic games as well as readers of the tie-in novels will be delighted.

Aphra’s father is looking for evidence of an offshoot of the Jedi order who were searching for the answer to immortality. This was, apparently, a heresy, and they were attacked by the main faction of Jedi and either found their answer or destroyed themselves, never to be heard from again.

The way these ancient people are referenced by both Aphra and her father are the centerpiece of this issue, and are fascinating in that there are two completely different interpretations. This illustrates the different ways that real-world archaeological and historical records can be interpreted depending on whose perspective one is taking.

On the one hand, they might have been a renegade sect searching for spiritual answers that lie outside of their restrictive and oppressive Jedi order. Persecuted for their beliefs, they were driven to drastic measures in order to escape extinction.

Which one is the truth?

On the other hand, they might have been a renegade sect searching for power beyond what their balanced and temperate Jedi order allowed. They were pursued across the galaxy before they inadvertently brought down destruction and ruin upon themselves and the galaxy, and took drastic measures to escape suppression.

This story is fascinating, and we wonder what the real answer is. Likely something in between. We’ll have to keep reading Doctor Aphra to find out.

Henry Jones Junior

The Indiana Jones parallels continue. Much like Sean Connery’s Henry Jones character from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Aphra’s father has obsessively sought after the ancient Jedi order even to the detriment of his family life.

Also, Much like in Indiana Jones, Aphra’s dad has an annoying nickname he calls her, much to the delight of Aphra’s crew. The two of them have an entertaining rapport despite their adversarial history.

And the Verdict

Doctor Aphra #2 is pretty light on action and spins its wheels a bit in favor of a Star Wars history lesson. It is interesting history though, and the inner EU fan in us had a little squee of excitement at what looked like Old Republic era Sith and Jedi squaring off (one word: Massassi).

Ultimately, it’s still a fun issue, and by the end, the team has landed in a place that will provide its own challenges going forward. Beetee, Triple-zero, and Krrsantan don’t have much to do in this issue, which is a shame, but they each get some fun little asides, and we’re glad they are still a part of the story.

Oh, you…

Even if you’re not a fan of the EU, the new history lesson is interesting in the way it has been interpreted and argued about over a simple matter of grammar. Changing one or two words in the historical record completely changes the context. We hope the mystery has a payoff.

The one problem we have lies with motivations. We’re not sure why Aphra agrees to help her dad. It’s pretty clear from the start that she wants nothing to do with him, and he’s already leaked her secret, so he really doesn’t have much leverage over her anymore. He never promises to help her get reinstated. This is a minor point, but it had us scratching our heads a bit. Maybe it will be addressed in subsequent issues.

Probably not though

Looks Good

The art continues to fit the series well. Aphra’s scowl of annoyance never leaves her face while her dad is around (except for the one time when Krrsantan roughs him up a bit.) The historical flashbacks in particular are great. The little bit of action in this issue comes in the flashbacks, and the changes in color from Dad’s retelling to Aphra’s go a long way in framing the stark differences between what the truth might actually be.

The one thing about the art is the backgrounds. Frequently the characters are framed with a blank background, or just a solid color. Not that this is a bad thing, but it is noticeable from panel to panel, and we’re not really sure why they chose to do this. Maybe for better panel separation? It’s unclear. Ultimately though, it doesn’t take away too much from the overall enjoyment of the book.

Doctor Aphra #2 doesn’t move the story forward much, but the backstory is a welcome addition to the new canon, and where our team ends up promises for a bumpy ride next issue. Join us again for Doctor Aphra #3 in a few weeks and we’ll see if it pays off.


Doctor Aphra #2

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Art: Kev Walker

Colors: Antonio Fabela

Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Cover: Kamome Shirahama

Images Courtesy Of Marvel Comics

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