Review: Doctor Aphra Annual #1

It’s funny how comics work sometimes. I never knew that I wanted Black Krrsantan’s backstory until I read this issue. The first Doctor Aphra Annual actually takes us back in time not only to a certain wookiee’s origin but also to the time between Screaming Citadel and the start of the current auction arc. There’s definitely something to be said for the self-contained story because this? Was pretty darn fun.

Honestly, there isn’t really anything that I didn’t like about this issue. Kieron Gillen puts a neat twist on the typical tragic wookiee backstory and Aphra even gets to use Black Krrsantan’s story to her advantage as he tells his tale to two very interested journalists. (They send their stories out on the Undervine and don’t mess around with the Holonet and its Imperial censors.) It’s obviously Krrsantan’s time to shine but Aphra definitely gets to have some fun along the way too.

I also have to say that I absolutely adored the art by Marc Leming (with an assist from Will Sliney) with colors by Jordan Boyd. There’s something just so great about his style and everything about how the characters looked made me feel like he really got the Star Wars aesthetic. Aphra not only gets another awesome new jacket but everything about the journalists’ looks just feels cool. (And is that Bail Organa’s influence I detect in one of those capes?) They look like Star Wars characters but have distinct styles which isn’t something that every Star Wars artist has been able to pull off.

Like a good Annual should, Doctor Aphra Annual #1 is a fun story that can standalone and is a good taste for hesitant readers into the sorts of hijinks and jobs that Aphra’s team tends to pull. (Just, you know, usually with more focus on Aphra.)

Doctor Aphra Annual #1: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Marc Laming/Artist, Will Sliney/Artist, Jordan Boyd/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Editor, Jordan D. White/Supervising Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra #11

LISTEN MARVEL. We’re going to get to the talking about the comic in a bit but I have a complaint to register as an Aphra cosplayer. You guys are KILLING ME with these rad outfits you put her in for the covers but then never appear within the pages of the issue. This is so not fair. How am I supposed to make more Aphra costumes when you keep teasing me with these sweet new looks and only a cover to go by?

*ahem* Anyways. About the issue…

Everything’s going to hell at Aphra’s masquerade auction and it’s just going to get worse the more the issue continues and in the next one. This arc is a textbook example of why you don’t let murder droids become bored and then leave them alone. Bad things happen. Very. Bad. Things. Like the spirit of a very angry Jedi being put into the body of a droid with violent capabilities. At the same time, the arc is also a great example of why I love Aphra. Things have a tendency to go wrong around her but she finds a way to adapt to the situation and keep fighting. No one wants to live quite as much as Chelli Aphra. She might not do it how a more traditional hero would but dang does it make it look fun. And dangerous. Can’t forget the dangerous part. It’s why this character has resonated with so many people.

Hold on, I need to put my cosplayer (aviator) hat on again because while I love that Aphra committed to the hidden identity thing enough to wear a wig, there is no way her hair would have been in a bun look that good with some artful framing wisps after being under a wig for however many hours. Alternatively, Star Wars characters must teach us their ways for coping with wig and helmet hair.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that this arc has had me at the edge of my seat and I suspect that the next issue will have me yelling at the comic. Again. Seriously though… it is not going to go well for someone next issue.

Doctor Aphra #11: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Penciler, Marc Deering/Inks, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra #10

The good news is that the trouble from the end of the last issue hasn’t showed up yet. The bad news is that different trouble has reared its far more immediate head. Really though: should anyone be surprised given the parties involved? (I’m looking at you, Aphra, I’m looking at you.)

The offer’s been made and now Aphra has to go talk to all of the interested parties. Everyone wants the Immortal Rur for their own reasons and certain groups do a better job of making their case than others. (Looking at you, Ezaraa. Try again with those zeroes.) For me, what made this issue work was how it showed Aphra as a fully faceted character. She’s not just a trope who likes credits although let’s be very clear that she does like the credits. She’s still an archaeologist albeit one with ambiguous morals. Aphra does things for a reason even if that might not be what you or I would do. I like her because of her flaws, not despite of them.

Aphra’s flair for the dramatic means that we get a little more of a break from seeing her in her trademarked red vest look and I have to say that I’m enjoying it. What’s the point of being part of the Underworld if you don’t get fancy sometimes? It makes the Star Wars galaxy more colorful in more ways than one.

As a standalone issue, Doctor Aphra #10 doesn’t necessarily stand out in a good or a bad way. It’s just a part of the story arc that I’ve definitely been enjoying so far. I’m impatient to see where the next issue takes us!

Doctor Aphra #10: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Penciler, Marc Deering/Inks, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra #9

Forget hello: they had me at the cover. Don’t get me wrong: I love Aphra for being, well, her but seeing her in a fancy dress just makes me smile. (I have a weakness and I will not apologize for it.) Tragically, neither Aphra nor Krrsantan wear their fancy cover duds within the pages of the book but I suppose what they do wear partially makes up for it with what their fancywear actually looks like. Emphasis on partially.

Part I of ‘Doctor Aphra and the Enormous Profit’ continues the plot that’s been driving the entire book thus far. The Screaming Citadel plan didn’t quite work as she intended and so now she’s going to sell the Immortal Rur to the highest bidder. Because credits. However… there’s a twist. Which I will not spoil for you. (I will say that it made me drop the comic and shout a swear word when I read it.)

One of the neat things about Doctor Aphra is that it gets to show us more of the galaxy’s underworld, something we haven’t seen as much of in the new canon. This underworld also extends past bounty hunters. The fact that Aphra’s made them all dress up is just a bonus. It’s a big galaxy and it’s nice when Star Wars shows us a little more of it.

This issue also reminds us that Team Aphra doesn’t work together because of the Power of Friendship. They work together because to have to (for whatever reason it might be.) This isn’t a group of people like our heroes who will bail each other out because they care. It’s a contrast that’s most definitely going to come back with a vengeance. Undoubtedly, this is something we’ll see more of as the book progresses.

The doctor is in again and I’m very anxious to see what happens to her next. Very. Very. Anxious.

Doctor Aphra #8: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Penciler, Marc Deering/Inks, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra #8

Doctor Aphra #8 brings Screaming Citadel to its end as our heroes defeat the Queen but everyone doesn’t made it out entirely unscathed.

Sometimes, it’s in a good way. Despite being betrayed, Luke seems to emerge from the Screaming Citadel stronger and more sure of his path as a Jedi. He didn’t learn what he thought he would but it’s been a worthwhile experience for him nonetheless. Plus… it’s unlikely he’ll be naively trusting someone like Aphra any time soon. (Sadly, there go my hopes for a Luke/Aphra buddy comedy book and hopefully, there go the ridiculous Luke+Aphra=Rey theories.)

One of the recurring bits of this crossover has been Triple Zero laying down some disturbingly accurate psychoanalysis on some of the ladies. Seriously though… who knew a droid could be obsessed with murder and still have psychoanalysis protocols? This time, it’s Aphra that he’s turned his sights on and she’s not exactly pleased by what he has to say. Can’t really blame her but I also can’t say she’s wrong.

On the art front, this was a book that had three very distinct artistic styles in it and I have to wonder if it would have felt more cohesive if Checchetto had drawn the entire crossover. His style just felt more right for the gothic tone of the story. That said, I certainly enjoyed Andrea Broccardo’s work and I hope he sticks around the Doctor Aphra comics in the future.

Assorted Musings:

  • I doubt the Courtship of Princess Leia shout out was intentional but when you read it, you’ll know it
  • The friendship between Leia, Luke, and Han is pure and we need more of it
  • Sana felt a little inconsistent over the course of the arc but I like how things were left between her and Aphra
  • If anyone still doubts Aphra/Sana were an item after this… I dunno what to tell them.
  • Even when he’s mad, Luke Skywalker is still adorable

While Screaming Citadel didn’t have quite the punch that the previous crossover Vader Down did, it was nevertheless a fun and quirky ride that Doctor Aphra #8 wraps up nicely.

Doctor Aphra #8: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Andrea Broccardo/Art, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra #7

We’re at the halfway point in Screaming Citadel and this is the story arc that I never want to end. It’s so delightful and delightfully weird and I cannot get enough. Of course, that’s in direct contrast to how most of the characters in the arc feel because almost all of them want their time on this planet of horrors to end already. Understandably so.

Where Doctor Aphra #7 particularly shines is with its characters. The dynamics between Luke and Aphra continue to be a highlight because he’s just so sweet and earnest and she’s just so not. I could read an entire series of these two just gallivanting around the galaxy. Interestingly enough, Leia’s another character who really gets to take the spotlight in this issue even if there’s no real main character. Out of all “people,” it’s Triple Zero who lays down some fascinating psychoanalysis of her. It’s honestly a shame that we don’t get to see Gillen’s take on the Princess more often.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been watching the Pirates of the Caribbean films lately and they’re at the forefront of my mind but there’s something about Aphra in this series/issue that makes me think of Jack Sparrow. When you toss her into the mix with a bunch of Rebels, you’re not entirely sure what she’s going to do but you do know that her motives are always ultimately self-centered. BUT. She’s also likely to eventually do the right thing to help out people she likes… just in her own unique way. (Don’t give her a jar of dirt though.)

Finally, it’s worth noting that I adore Andrea Broccardo and Antonio Fabela’s art on this issue! Hopefully we’ll see them stick around on the book for a while.

Do you really need me to tell you to read this story arc again? Go read it!

Doctor Aphra #7: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Andrea Broccardo/Art, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Screaming Citadel #1

The Screaming Citadel crossover kicks off today and I’ll just be referring to it as the issue in which everything is delightful and wonderful and nothing hurts. Another potential title is ‘Everything I never knew I wanted until just now’ which would be equally accurate.

The premise is fairly simple. Aphra’s got the artifact with a Force user’s consciousness from the Ordu Aspectu and she needs Luke’s help to convince the Queen of Ktath’atn to activate it. The way Aphra phrases it, it’s a win for everyone. Luke gets a Jedi instructor and Aphra gets a front row seat to history. Of course, it’s not going to be as easy as that and if you think Aphra’s in it purely for the academic knowledge…

What makes this book so darn fun is the interaction between Aphra and Luke. She’s a woman who’s been around the galaxy a few times and sees things in shades of grey while he’s still far closer to being the fluffy-haired farmboy than anything close to a Jedi Knight yet. This isn’t a combination that we got to see much of during Vader Down but it’s possibly one of the most delightful character combinations we’ve gotten in the comics thus far. I sincerely hope that Luke comparing Aphra to Han becomes a running gag.

There’s nothing about this issue that I don’t love and honestly, it’s such peak Gillen that I’m almost surprised that McKelvie’s not drawing it. (Although there’s something quite pretty about Checchetto’s art that I’m a fan of and that definitely works here.) To borrow Gillen’s own words, “it all goes None More Goth” and Aphra and Luke both have a chance to get dressed up all fancy (especially Luke.) Related: I would like to have Aphra’s jacket collection because it appears to be fantastic.

Screaming Citadel starts out strong and grabs the interest from the start. Even if you’ve fallen behind one either Doctor Aphra or Star Wars, I absolutely recommend picking up this crossover because it looks like it’s going to be a fun and wild ride.

Screaming Citadel #1: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Marco Checchetto/Art, Andres Mossa/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Kieron Gillen & Jason Aaron/Story, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra #6

Listen. I know that usually I strive to keep reviews as spoiler free as possible but in this particular situation, I am not going to bury the lead because Marvel has finally confirmed what we all strongly suspected back in Star Wars #19: Chelli Aphra is totally gay. First we came for your former Imperial Loyalty Officers and then we came for your Rogue Archaeologists and we are so very not sorry. I’m incredibly pleased that this is something Kieron Gillen and company have confirmed within the text. The more representation within Star Wars, the better.

Oh. I suppose that you want me to discuss the issue aside from Aphra’s sexuality. Doctor Aphra #6 is a great conclusion to the first arc of the book. Gillen and Walker gave us a cool mystical archaeology story mixed with Imperial conflict while also making sure to not neglect what made this book so appealing: the characters. It has a feel to it that’s distinctly its own and Aphra’s proved that she can carry a fascinating book on her own merits without the Dark Lord of the Sith. Hopefully this book is here to stay for a good long while. Who knows what other sorts of trouble Aphra could get up to in the galaxy?

The only thing that’s been bothering me on the art front is that Aphra looks way younger than she should sometimes but that could be because of Kev Walker’s art style. On the other hand, Walker’s also giving Aphra some cool new outfits, which is always a plus.

If you haven’t been picking up Doctor Aphra, I cannot recommend it enough. This book is far too much fun and delightfully Star Wars while also getting to explore other genres. Honestly, there’s no time like the present to get caught up on this book especially with the Screaming Citadel crossover with the main book coming next month. What are you doing still reading this review? Go read Doctor Aphra!

Doctor Aphra #6: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Pencils, Marc Deering/Inks, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan D. White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra #5

You know a comic’s doing something right when my first reaction as I read the final pages is, “Oh. Oh this is so cool.” And that, my friends, is exactly what I said at the end of this issue of Doctor Aphra because oh wow do they give us what’s going to be a really neat thing to face in the next issue. (You didn’t think I was going to tell you what it was, did you?)

What undoubtedly helps the cool factor are Antonio Fabela’s colors. Much of the issue has a green wash to it as the Aphras explore the citadel of Ordu-Aspectu. The overall effect is that it’s eerie yet awesome. It’s interesting to hear Papa Aphra refer to what we think of as the Jedi Order as being Orthodox Jedi even as we get to learn more about different groups of Force users. After all, it’s a big galaxy.

At the heart of this issue though are Aphra, her father, and all of their family issues. It turns out that being trapped somewhere with Imperials on their way to kill you makes for a great time to get some things off your chest. That sentence may sound sarcastic but for Aphra, it totally works. She also has a point that her father doesn’t really know her or what she may or may not be capable of. Working so closely with Vader has a way of changing people… in ways that others might not like…

I know I said this last time about this issue but… oh man, can we please have Issue #6 already? I need to know more about and what happens with the really cool thing. Like… now please?

Doctor Aphra #5: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Pencils, Marc Deering/Inks, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan D. White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor