This week? This week is a good week because we get Dr. Aphra #1.
Aphra’s been a lot of firsts since we initially met her in Darth Vader #3 in March 2015. She was the first significant new character we met in the Star Wars comics. She was one of the first (alongside Sabine Wren) Asian characters to have a leading role in the Star Wars universe. And Wednesday? She’s going to be the first female character to get a Star Wars ongoing title and one of the first characters unaffiliated with the films or TV shows to headline her own comic or book.
Short version? She’s a big freaking deal.
(And not just because she survived a Kieron Gillen book which is really admirable on its own.)
It’s difficult to fully explain what it’s like to finally get a character who looks like you in your favorite franchise to someone who’s always had one there. (If you’re a person of color, you know what I mean.) Star Wars was never the most diverse of franchises so the grand strides forward being made in this new canon are wonderful to see. I won’t presume to speak for all women of Asian descent but I bet that for a lot of us who are Star Wars fans? Aphra means a hell of a lot to some of us.
For me personally, Aphra’s not only someone whose physical appearance makes me feel more welcomed and represented in Star Wars but she’s also someone I can relate to. She’s got a sense of humor and talks when she’s nervous. She’s also realistic about the universe and knows that she’ll only stay alive for as long as Vader finds her useful. She’s not a stereotype. Add in that Aphra’s someone without any mystical powers and that she’s very likely not straight and… yeah. I find her to be both pretty darn relatable and also a great big breath of fresh air.
Aside from the hints in the preview pages, I don’t know what Dr. Aphra has in store for us but I sure am excited to find out. This is the first Star Wars comic that’s truly unfettered by the films and shows. Anything could happen. This isn’t a story about the greater war between the Rebellion and the Empire. It’s the story of an archaeologist, her crazy wookiee friend, and her two murderous droids and I genuinely could not be more excited to see what happens. She could go anywhere in the galaxy and I’d happily be along for the ride.
It cannot be stressed enough how important this book is. Female characters of color are on the rise in the Star Wars books and comics and it’s incredible seeing them as some of the breakout stars. It is because of this that I have to end this piece with a personal appeal: support this book. Subscribe to it at your local comic store, buy it digitally online, talk about it on social media. Every day in fandom, I see people asking for stories about more diverse characters and stores about more characters outside of the norm. This book does both. It can’t succeed and continue unless the fandom is behind it. Please support it however you can because characters like Aphra aren’t just a delight for us as readers… they’re important for young kids to see in the galaxy far, far away.
On that note… Dr. Aphra? You’re what I’ve been looking for all my life and I can’t wait to see where you go in your new book.