My favorite new comic continues today and uhhh yeah. It’s not looking great for Team Aphra. (It’ll be fine! It’s only issue #4 of an ongoing series, after all.)
Surprisingly, while Aphra continues to be awesome, she wasn’t my favorite part of this issue. That honor goes instead to our antagonist. Despite debuting so recently, Captain Tolvan is already turning out to be a lovely surprise and seems to be a character who’ll be sticking around for a little while. She’s good but she’s not perfect and, were this her story, she’d be working through a personal redemption arc. On a related note, it seems that Marvel’s previous references to events in Rogue One weren’t throwaway lines and I sincerely hope we get more of this.
I mentioned this during the last review but I sincerely love that this is first and foremost the story of a rogue archaeologist that just happens to be set in the Star Wars universe. It gives the book such a distinct feel from any other Star Wars stories we’ve gotten in recent memory. There are familiar locations and characters of course but it all just feels so fresh. I’m almost as invested in finding the Ordu Aspectu as Papa Aphra is. (Side Note: Does anyone else think of Wesley the Rogue Demon Hunter from Buffy the Vampire Slayer every time they read the opening scroll? No? Just Me? Okay never mind.)
Actually, I take back what I said earlier. My favorite part of the issue is a panel of the murderbots a few pages in because it made me laugh so damn hard. I won’t spoil it for you but I promise you’ll know it when you see it.
Doctor Aphra continues to get a “hell yeah!” from me and I would really like Issue #5 in my hands already, please and thank you.
Doctor Aphra #4: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Pencils, Marc Deering/Inks Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan D. White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
Usually, I prefer to start these off a little differently but I’ve got such crazy news that I think you all deserve to know right away. Are you sitting? You might want to sit down for this. Okay. Ready? Star Wars has now given us TWO ranking female Imperial officers within the same month. T W O. Captain Tolvan, let me be the first to say that it is very nice to meet you and that I hope you don’t end this book blown up, shot, or otherwise dead.
You know what I love about Star Wars almost as much as I love this book? That sweet, sweet brand synergy. I adore the shout out to the events of Rogue One and I especially love that it’s tied in because a character was literally too obsessed with his own project to notice that a city and entire planet got blown up. Never change, Papa Aphra. (Except no wait, your daughter would probably prefer that you did.) (Also, you need a name.)
Doctor Aphra #3 has the distinction of being very funny without being filled to the brim with jokes. BeeTee and Triple Zero have their entertaining exchanges as usual but there’s just something hilarious about watching Black Krrsantan go up against the Empire even if it doesn’t do the scout troopers’ reputation any favors. A lot of the credit for this goes to the art by Kev Walker so kudos on that front.
It delights me (though hardly surprises me) that this book is following up on the promise of its first issue. It feels both very Star Wars-y and very distinctly Aphra. We’re getting that archaeological story so many of us have hoped for that’s showing us other parts of the galaxy. It’s just so neat and so fun and… okay seriously, why are people not reading this book? All Star Wars fans should be.
Doctor Aphra #3: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Artist, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan D. White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
You just knew when Aphra’s dad showed up that it wasn’t going to be for fun and games. They hardly seem to be a warm and fuzzy family, Boop or no Boop. It turns out that questionable ethics run in the family as Aphra’s Dad has decided to leak to the archaeology board that she cheated on her doctorate entirely because he wants her to help him find the Ordu Aspectu. What happened to them? Well… let’s just say that everyone has their own theory and it’s going to take them to a very unexpected moon.
Doctor Aphra #2 follows up on the fun and adventure of the first issue but this time with more family problems! (Honestly, who doesn’t have family drama in the galaxy far, far away?) This book is definitely a tonal shift from Darth Vader which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just taking a little getting used to especially since we’re finally seeing Aphra deal with her own problems as opposed to Vader’s. Seeing a female character be the star of her own story entirely on her own merits (and not because of who she’s related to) is incredibly refreshing as is seeing a smaller scale story that doesn’t have galactic ramifications.
This is hardly news but Kieron Gillen definitely knows how to end a comic on a cliffhanger that’s going to leave you incredibly anxious for the next issue. Can we have Issue #3 yet? No? On the art front, I’m getting more and more used to seeing our cast drawn by Kev Walker instead of Salvador Larroca. His style is incredibly expressive which works quite well for the arguments between father and daughter.
So how is Doctor Aphra holding up? Pretty darn good so far. You should definitely be reading it!
Doctor Aphra #2: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Artist, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan D. White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
It’s finally here! Dr. Aphra #1! Okay, so we’ve only been waiting for a month and a half but it’s felt like forever. No longer in Darth Vader’s service, Aphra, her two murderdroids, and Black Krrsantan are back to their usual thing: finding and selling ancient artifacts for a profit with a side of violence. Except there’s one problem: her doctorate’s been revoked and now she can’t sells her loot for the usual high prices.
Dr. Aphra #1 is our first real chance (outside of her introduction in Darth Vader #3) to really get to see Aphra going after what Aphra wants. I love that this book immediately reminds us that she’s not one of those rogues with a heart of gold. She straight up kills a man and isn’t particularly torn up about it. (Hey, he had a thing that she wanted!) I’m glad that it’s Kieron Gillen still at the writing helm because that means we’re getting the definitive Aphra and Aphra backstory just as he always imagined her. I don’t think I’d trust anyone else to write her quite yet even though we still run the risk of her, you know, dying. Because it’s Gillen.
On the art front, Kev Walker takes over for this new book but we do get a taste of Salvador Larroca via the short story at the end. Adding a little something extra has been Marvel’s MO for first issues. It’s a nice nod to their previous collaboration and while I dig Larroca’s work, it’s nice to get a distinctly different style for this book. Thus far, I’m definitely a fan of Walker’s more comic booky style.
There weren’t a ton of surprises in this first issue. They mostly cover what we’ve already learned in interviews and solicits but it does very nicely introduce Team Aphra to new readers. In other words, it’s very much a first issue but I’m honestly so glad to be reading about her again that it could’ve been 22 pages of nothing but Aphra ordering drinks in a cantina and I would’ve been content. That said, I can’t emphasize enough how excited I am to see where this book goes. After all, we can’t have a Dr. Aphra book if Aphra doesn’t have a doctorate… right?
In case it wasn’t clear yet… yeah. Dr. Aphra #1 gets my whole hearted endorsement. Go snag yourself a copy.
Dr. Aphra #1: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Artist, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Editor/Jordan White, Assistant Editor: Heather Antos
How do you end a comic that has been so consistently excellent like Darth Vader? You make Darth Vader #25.
Spoilers aplenty from here on out. Continue reading
Darth Vader #24 goes by fast. And I mean really fast.
Look, there’s nothing that you can’t see coming in this issue. Or at least the general ideas of it. No wait, I take that back. The last page made me go “Oh snaaaaaaaaaaap” and then made me cranky that I don’t have Issue #25 in my hands right now. If you think I’m going to spoil that ending for you here though… boy oh boy are you looking at the wrong review.
One of the best things about Kieron Gillen’s work on this book has been how he hasn’t shied away from the Prequels. It’s news to no one that the Prequels are controversial and there is a subset of fans who enjoy yelling about how bad they are and how they should be ignored. Delightfully, Gillen does the opposite and godamn it could not be clearer that Darth Vader definitely used to be Anakin Skywalker and still is at his core. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t still be haunted by the memories of Obi-Wan and Padmé. Despite those internal struggles, Darth Vader is still a force to be reckoned with. Cylo may have activated the kill switch in the suit but it is a gesture that is insignificant against the power of the Force.
There’s not much more to say here. Again, it’s a good issue that is a very fast read. Salvador Larroca does some neat stuff with a page full of lightsaber dueling but beside that… everything’s leading up to the final issue. Everything. How can we possibly wait patiently for that last issue when we know SO MUCH IS GOING TO GO DOWN?
Darth Vader #24: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
Do you know what I love about this Darth Vader book? Kieron Gillen never fails to surprise me. He doesn’t surprise me with how Vader always survives no matter what anyone throws at him. Obviously that’s a given. No, how Gillen surprises me is with what he throws at Vader and that’s truly the joy of this book. (Okay, it’s the second biggest joy of the book. Obviously Aphra and the Murder Bots are the biggest joy.) What’s that saying? It’s not about the destination but rather the journey? It’s perhaps the most apt way I can think of to describe this current Darth Vader arc. We as readers know that Cylo’s attempts to stop Vader are going to fail no matter how many arrogant idiots he throws at him but the payoff… oh man the payoff.
If the ending of this issue doesn’t get people talking, I don’t know what will.
One of the things I’ll definitely miss about this book is when Gillen figuratively steps back and lets Larroca have at it for an entire page or, even better, a full spread. I could stare at the ships and beautifully colored space background pages for ages. Bonus points if the aforementioned page also includes Vader because daaaaaaang.
Aphra Watch 2016: Got to breath easy for one (1) issue
Do you really need to ask if this book gets a strong recommendation from me?
Darth Vader #23: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
Aphra Watch 2016: Still not dead. Also still smarter than you.
Darth Vader #22 picks up right where Issue #21 left off: with Vader facing off against a cyberanimate rancor. Oh and it all happens on a whale-ship. Honestly, that tells you everything you should need to know about this book because Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca make some crazy magic happen. Science is nothing compared to the power of the Force and the force that is Darth Vader.
Cylo, on the other hand, is proving more resourceful and perhaps a little bit smarter than I’d given him credit for. He’s making very strong forward moves in the ‘take down Emperor and Vader’ direction even if we all know it won’t end well. It’s just a matter of how many other people he can take with him.
In a continuing ode to Doctor Aphra… we may not get very much of her in this issue but what we do get reinforces that she’s still alive (despite working for Vader) because of how damn smart she is and how fast she can think on her feet. Whether it pans out remains to be seen but it’s incredibly awesome to see such a capable woman not just wait around to be rescued… she does something about it.
As a part of the aptly named End of Games arc, Darth Vader #22 continues to raise the stakes and will keep readers on the edge of their seat as we march towards the end of this exciting book.
Darth Vader #22: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
Want to know how to end a comic book issue? Read Darth Vader #21 because this one definitely got an ‘OH SNAP’ from me. We’re in the final days now of this awesome run by the Vader team and I suspect that very bad things are going to be happening. But first! Dr. Aphra is back!
It’s been fun reading about the adventures of Aphra, Sana, and Leia over in the main Star Wars book but I’m glad to see her returned to the pages of Darth Vader. It’s felt like something was missing the last few issues even though she was never forgotten in the story. Even when she’s clearly feeling less than her best, there’s something about Aphra that just makes her pop off the page. Don’t get me wrong: I’m still very worried about her surviving but it just feels right to have her around again.
On the flip side, we have Vader (I mean, I guess it’s technically his book) who is 100% done and ready to just crush Cylo and move on to better things. In this issue, we get both the ruthless Vader and the one who can outfly almost anyone. The latter is a tricky thing to convey in comics since you’re restricted to unmoving images but Larroca makes it work. If you ask me, Cylo is handling Vader coming after him all too calmly. Even if we didn’t know that Vader and the Emperor survive, those are not two people I would want to tick off on a personal level.
Oh the Larroca/Delgado artwork for the nebula? Drop dead gorgeous. I’d kill to see more pages with it. (And the space whale-shark-abomination thingys. Can’t forget them.)
Darth Vader #21: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
The Emperor will see you now… if you’re Darth Vader. Everyone else must leave. Darth Vader #20 by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca brings plot threads from the last 20 issues all together in a satisfying conclusion without putting a pretty little bow on everything. After all, Dr. Aphra’s still missing in action and Vader wants her found… one way or the other. I continue to be very concerned about her.
The highlight of this issue isn’t actually part of the main story but rather a short back up story by Kieron Gillen with art by Mike Norton titled “The Misadventures of Triple-Zero and BeeTee.” It is ridiculously fun and twisted in a way that only a story about the murderbots could be. Is there anything more gleeful than watching Triple Zero and BeeTee get to do what they do best? Dare I say it… I think I may have enjoyed it more than the main story and I never turn down a chance to listen to Palpatine monologue about how his manipulative plan has worked exactly as he intended.
Speaking of which, Palpatine’s ability to manipulate this apprentice is disturbing to say the least. At some points, he’s not even manipulating so much as blatantly using him. Palpatine wants to revel in ruling the galaxy and having absolute power and he can only be honest about the particulars with a select few. Playing these sorts of games with Vader are reminders to himself that he is in control. Or at least that’s what he thinks.
I’m curious to see where the book goes from here. At the very least, I suspect that Tagge’s going to be in some trouble. After all, that decidedly not trashy Super Star Destroyer ends up being Vader’s flagship and not his. Is anyone but Vader safe in this book? (No. The answer is no.)