In Review: Doctor Aphra #12

The high life comes crashing down on Aphra with the arrival of the Lord of the Sith.

The covers: Two to find for this issue where Aphra’s world gets torn asunder. The Regular cover is by Kamome Shirahama and is the image I chose to accompany this review. A bust of Darth Vader is shown against a smoky, gray background. Reflected in his helmet is the visage of Aphra, looking concerned at confronting the Lord of the Sith once again. Very cool cover, because you can’t go wrong with Darth Vader, and he is in this issue. The Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant is by Nick Roche and Jordan Boyd showing Obi-Wan’s Kenobi escaping notice from a pair of stormtroopers after deactivating the Death Star’s tractor beam. This is a decent illustration, but there’s too much space devoted to the backgroud, with Ben barely visible. Plus, the former Jedi has got some tremendous ears on him. A good idea for a cover that’s not successful. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant C+ 

The story: After setting up her auction to sell off the Rur Crystal, the world is tumbling around Aphra. First, BeeTee and Triple-Zero have contacted Darth Vader to tell him about the crystal, and he’s arrived on the station with a garrison of stormtroopers. Second, the entity within the crystal has been released and is killing those that were bidding on it. Aphra confronts the her former droid allies and learns that they no longer wish to have a master so that they may kill whomever they want. She removes the circuitry that keeps them on their leashes, and they instantly display all their deadly weaponry. This puts the doctor into a deadly position that ends with her lucky to be alive. Another character arrives on the scene on Page 7, leading to them teaming and encountering some survivors who are trying to capture the Rur creature with some interesting bait. This leads to a reveal on 9 and the doctor and her companion on the run again. 14 has something occur I’ve been waiting for and it was great. Naturally the Rur droid finds Aphra, and if it’s wielding a laser sword any reader will know whom it has to battle. Kieron Gillen has some solid payoff with three characters that exit this series and have Aphra squirming her way to survive every page, ending with her caught between a rock and a hard place. Action packed reading with the title character constantly on the run. Overall grade: A

The art: This issue starts with the dramatic entrance of Darth Vader. Kev Walker provides the pencils and Marc Deering the inks and this is how to begin a book. The character that greets the Sith looks fantastic, with its fate on the top of 2 spectacular. Vader isn’t clearly seen: only his helmet is shown as he uses the Force to tear the character apart. The reaction on Aphra’s face as she witnesses this entrance on a monitor would mirror anyone’s face if they knew Vader was coming for them. I’m impressed that even with his frozen face, Triple-Zero is horrific as he speaks with Aphra. Her shock at what he’s saying makes his immobile face fantastic. The final two panels on Page 5 are outstanding for the use of silhouettes, giving the reader a glimpse of what’s within Triple-Zero, leaving the fine details as dark suggestions in his or her mind. The entrance on 7 is great, with the size of the weapon being awesome. The death on 10 is dramatic and the lack of any dialogue makes it very moving. The large character introduced on 12 is great and I would love to see more of this species in other Star Wars books. The explosion and the gun that’s emptied on the following page are spectacular, with the motion of the characters making the violence ring true. The character’s exit on 19 is great, with the energy trail very cool: I’ve not seen this done in any Star Wars comics before. Given the story, the final page’s visuals were expected, but Walker and Deering make it look great with a full-page splash. I can’t wait to see what this pair do next month with the impending confrontation. Overall grade: A

The colors: The colors by Antonio Fabela really punch up the already outstanding visuals. The dark coloring on the character that starts the issue draws the reader’s eyes to the bring yellow sun and the silhouettes that tease what’s about to occur. The sparks on the top of Page 2 are well done, justifying Vader’s outline on the page. The cool blue-green used for the monitors at the bottom of the page show technology and paint the wall in a neat violet. When Triple-Zero begins to make his demands, look how his eyes are piercing in crimson. His sinister nature is increased by a vivid orange. The setting encountered on 8 is a calming green, bringing a false pause in the action, which is ended by an explosion of red on 10. The pink and violet used in the top panel on 14 is an interesting choice, as it’s not one that’s associated with that action, but it looks fantastic. The green that issues from the Rur possessed droid is eerie and serves as a good contrasting color to the crimsons of another character on the final page. Excellent job by Fabela. Overall grade: A+

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna creates droid speak, dialogue, BeeTee’s beeps, the unique speech of the character that appears on Page 7, yells, and sounds. There’s a lot of droid dialogue in this issue and it’s neat to see it slightly differentiated from biological creatures with it being italicized and in a boxy balloon. I do wish that Vader’s voice was given a slight change from other characters’ speech, since it is augmented by his suit. The sounds of a door closing and locking are given, but nothing is done for explosions or gun play. So disappointing. I am continually at a loss to understand why Marvel is so selective in their sounds on this franchise. Overall grade: B-

The final line: The high life comes crashing down on Aphra with the arrival of the Lord of the Sith. There’s some solid payoffs, ending with a tease of a bigger battle. The visuals are strong, with the colors being impressive. Worth picking up. Overall grade: A-

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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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