Review: Doctor Aphra #16

For those of you who have somehow missed my previous Doctor Aphra reviews, I’ll just recap what I always say generally about the comic very quickly before talking about this issue. It’s probably the best comic on the Star Wars line that is currently running when art and writing are both equally considered. The art is absolutely beautiful and the writing is entertaining and engaging, but can also be moving and compelling when the story calls for it. It’s amazing and it surprisingly accessible for people who are not totally in-tune with the extended canon because it is own isolated story about a morally grey, lesbian space archaeologist. Honestly, if that doesn’t persuade you to give it a try, I don’t know what else will.

Now, let’s move onto this issue because it was great. First of all, if you were remotely invested in Aprha and Tolvan’s relationship you need to read this issue. But I like that we were able to address their relationship and move it forward without compromising the overall plot. I’ll talk more about that scene in the Star Wars nerd part of the review, but here I’ll just say how happy I am that we had our big same-sex kiss scene in a mainline Star Wars comic and leave it at that. Thanks, everyone at Marvel and LucasFilms. In an age where a lot of mainstream comics are having stated queer characters but then never actually show them in same-sex relationships (and where a Harry Potter movie about the man Dumbledore was in love with is being made and their relationship will allegedly not be addressed), as a queer woman, I really appreciate how Aphra has been handled.

And as a quick aside, I will say I loved the cover. It’s really beautiful and also sort of adorable.

I also thought the rest of Aprha’s team was really entertaining. They were super funny and I like that we fleshed them out so well. It would have been really easy to make them bland or uninteresting, but instead they’re all unique and entertaining. It really does a lot to show how much effort is put into this comic. Again, the comic is absolutely excellent and anyone who isn’t reading and is even remotely interested in Star Wars really should be doing so.

Now, onto the Star Wars fan part of the review. As usual, spoilers for the entire canon up until this point.

First, I’ll talk about the kiss scene and everything leading up to it, because it’s great and I think it does a great job referencing other romances and/or relationships in the canon that have similarities to this one.

In some ways, I thought it was much like the “I love you/I know” moment between Han and Leia in Empire Strikes Back, and was very Star Wars. That in spite of the danger around them, the world seems to stop for a brief moment for them to acknowledge the feelings that they have developed for one another, before the greater universe forces them apart and back into reality. It’s sort of a brief aside that makes things seem marginally brighter for a brief moment before both women are plunged back into the darkness of their respective situations.

I also loved the lead up where they’re like tossed into the small compartment/hallway thing. It reminded me a lot of the scene in the Rebels episode “The Honorable Ones” where Zeb and Kallus (a rebel and his longtime ISB nemesis) are trapped together in an escape pod that crashes onto a planet where they eventually become friends while waiting for rescue. Honestly, Tolvan reminds me a lot of Kallus, she has basically the same job and a not dissimilar personality (she’s an ISB agent loyal to the Empire, but increasingly skeptical of its brutality and defined first and foremost by his incredible loneliness).

And I’ll be honest, this is really the only romantic relationship in the canon I have any real emotional investment in at the moment (somewhat Hera and Kanan, but I’m prepared for that not to end well), so I’m glad to see that it’s working out. At least as much as could be expected.

Okay, so moving on from Aphra and Tolvan… Triple Zero is totally nuts, right? Now that he’s in charge it’s way more noticeable than it was before. What’s even his plan? He wants his memories and he’s going to send Aphra into an Imperial facility where she can what? Get discovered and captured by Vader? And how does he think that ends for him, the guy who helped her escape Vader and stay out of his hands for what? Months at this point? Aphra’s actually pretty bad at not getting spotted by Imperials– Tolvan just covers it up all the time (yet another similarity between Tolvan and Kallus). And Triple Zero should know that now, she got spotted by a bunch of Imperials on the mission she went on in this issue. If she was good at not attracting Imperial attention, the Vader thing would never have happened to begin with.

Bottom line: Aphra’s not a skilled infiltrator, and I find it really strange that Triple Zero, when he can clearly hire basically whoever he wants to do this for him, wants to use someone who he knows will constantly be looking for an escape from his control and is actively bad at doing the thing he wants her to do. If he needed her archeology skills it would be one thing, but he wants her to get his memories. I’m actually pretty worried about how this mission is going to go, though I am really curious about why Vader is looking for her. If he just wanted her dead, there’d be a kill order out, but there’s not. So, he must have some other reason, and I’m curious about what it is.

Anyway, I absolutely loved this issue of Doctor Aphra and am, as always, eagerly anticipating the next one. I cannot recommend this comic highly enough to any fans of Star Wars or even just general space adventures.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Cover: 5 Stars
Art: 5 Stars
Dialogue: 5 Stars
Plot/Relevance: 5 Stars

(W) Si Spurrier, Kieron Gillen (A) Emilio Laiso (CA) Ashley Witter

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