In Review: Doctor Aphra #15

A crew of mercenaries makes this a can't miss issue.

The covers: A pair to search down as if they were the last Jedi. The Regular cover is by Ashley Witter and features the title characters with the supporting characters in her crew from this issue. Going clockwise there’s Glahst Omega, the Violet Ghost, Sister Six, Aphra, DEK-[[NIL]], Tam Posla, and Rex Go. This is poster worthy material that captures each of the character’s personalities perfectly. And is it me or does Aphra look like Anne Hathaway in this illustration? The Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant cover is the final edition of this 48 cover series. Phil Noto is the perfect artist to end this run with a magnificent rendering of Han, Chewie, and Luke walking to receive their medals from Princess Leia at the end of A New Hope. Noto is an exceptional artist and this looks fantastic. Definitely one to track down! Overall grades: Regular A and Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant A+

The story: This is an excellent starting point for new readers. Kieron Gillen & Si Spurrier start their tale with poor Imperial officer Magna Tolvan, who’s tangled unsuccessfully several times with Aphra. She lies in prisoners’ cells awaiting execution when a voice tells her to back up. An explosion occurs and Aphra walks in. The surprised officer asks, “Joystick Chevron?” This makes Aphra smile and say, “You do know that’s not my real name, right?” The title character leans in to kiss the disgraced officer and then something happens. Meanwhile on Son-Tuul, Triple-Zero is explaining to Aphra, who’s accompanied by Rexo Go, what her next mission will be. Aphra’s not happy working for the droid and his partner BeeTee-One, who now leads the Son-Tuul Pride, a deadly gang. This is the most terrifying that 0-0-0 has been in all his appearances. Previously he was seen as a sick joke in his appearances, but now he’s an absolute monster in what he’s doing while talking to Aphra and how he has her make some quick, hard choices. He’s arguably the greatest original villain in all of Marvel’s Star Wars run. The crew that Aphra has to run with is colorful, to say the least, and could easily fill their own series for years. Where they go has some great surprises, especially the one on Pages 17 and 18. While the good doctor is having this adventure, Tolvan is undergoing her own which has several outstanding twists, with the biggest ending the issue in a cliffhanger. This could be the most perfect story in Aphra’s history. Overall grade: A+

The art: Emilio Laiso is crushing the visuals on this book. The three opening pages showing Tolvan in her prison cell and her escape are terrific. The close-up of the Imperial’s eyes are fantastic; they capture her cold demeanor and her sense of defeat. Aphra’s entrance on Page 2 is cinematic. The first two panels on 3 are a surprise — not! Her attitude in the last panel shines and is communicated visually before her one word of text is stated. Outstanding! Triple-Zero has always been a monster, but this is the most explicit he’s ever been shown while “working” and Laiso is still hiding quite a bit from the reader. Aphra’s look in the third panel on 4 is perfection. The streets of Son-Tuul are full of all type of creatures, characters, and stormtroopers. I love that Aphra and Go are able to blend in with this seedy crowd, even with the top of Go’s head featuring a funny/creepy visual. The reveal of the Aphra’s crew on 8 and 9 is a double-paged spread that has the characters sitting in a ship ready to blast off. These are excellent introductions and all look incredible. The two pages that follow are in an incredibly tight space, but Laiso moves the point of view around excellently to clearly capture the characters’ moods and expressions and create some excellent tension; for proof, check out the last panel on 9! Some close-ups of the lead character on 12 and 13 also create some considerable tension, though they go in a different direction than Aphra’s tale. The funniest and sickest gag of the year has to be the final panel on 16 and the first panel on 17: I’m embarrassed I laughed, but how could one not do so? The final panel of the book is a great shock for one character, as an individual from previous issues makes an appearance. The expression on the character who is on their knees is outstanding. I loved every aspect of this book’s art. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The visuals explode off the page thanks to Rachelle Rosenberg’s coloring. The tepid tones of an Imperial cell are shattered by the bright blast at the bottom of the first page. Completing Aphra’s heroic entrance on 2 is the fantastic backlighting that makes her god-like. The soft colors in the second panel on 3 make the moment heavenly. There are several holograms in this issue and they have the trademark blue hues found in any Star Wars film or cartoon. I especially liked that the dialogue coming from these holograms is also colored blue, acting as a visual reminder to the reader to show who is speaking. The exteriors on 10 and 11 are a fantastically foreign orange that screams alien surroundings. This color scheme continues on the two pages that follow, though they turn into a soft rose, which is equally alien. The final page is my favorite coloring of the issue as Imperial greens are bathed in the illumination of a hologram. Brilliant! Overall grade: A+  

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna creates dialogue, yells, scene settings, droid speak, sounds, and computer text. The dialogue continues to look frail, making Aphra’s crew sound weak when speaking, and the scene settings are blurry due to the coloring that has to go under them. The remainder of book has excellent text, with the sounds being superior and the computer text wonderfully digitized. Overall grade: B+

The final line: A crew of mercenaries causes troubles and an Imperial gets closer to the truth in this sensational installment. All the characters are fantastic and the visuals are drool worthy. A good entry point issue for newcomers to Aphra’s outings and an excellent issue for those who’ve been following since the beginning. Contains the most fearsome original villain in Marvel’s Star Wars run. A can’t miss issue! Overall grade: A

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Star-Wars-Doctor-Aphra-2016-15/digital-comic/580247?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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