In Review: Doctor Aphra #18

The story becomes silly and the art and colors are mixed, creating a disappointing issue.

The covers: A pair to add to your stash, should you be a collector like the good doctor. The Regular cover is by Ashley Witter and features Aphra joyfully escorting Hera Syndulla to the Imperials. The characters on this look terrific, with both exuding some great emotions with their faces and their stances. Chelli playfully carries a pistol in her hand, while Hera is slightly hunched over to emphasize she’s being forced to move forward. There’s also some pretty snazzy background work on this illustration, with a distant ship behind them caught in some, seeming, mist. Nicely done. The Galactic Icons Variant is by Rod Reis and is a portrait of Kylo Ren from The Last Jedi. He looks fantastic staring at the reader intensely, standing before a white background that features the logo of the First Order. This looks great! Overall grades: Regular A and Galactic Icons Variant A+

The story: Aphra and her crew are making their way to Hivebase-1, a classified Tarkin Inititive Facility to trade their prisoner Hera Syndulla to the Imperials so that the title character can have her slate wiped clean. However, if one is familiar with Aphra, what she says and what she’s actually doing are two very different things. As they begin docking procedures with the facility, Hera tries to get the surviving scoundrels to help her escape, but Aphra is naturally one step ahead of her. The title character then does something that brings the rebel’s ship to her, but they’re used for something rather horrible. This story is more wacky than cool. Writers Kieron Gillen & Si Spurrier have Aphra and her crew entering the heart of the Tarkin Inititive which is a believable setting populated by some really over the top creations. This went too far, crossing the line into silliness. This series often goes right up to the line without crossing it, but this time it firmly leaps over it, making Pages 14 – 20 ridiculous. There are some better moments, such as the appearance of a recurring character that stops Aphra in her tracks and changing her goals. I really like this character on Page 11 and Aphra’s reaction to her. Every time she shows up the characters take over the tale, rather than the tale taking over the characters. The twists of the final seven pages were just too goofy for me, making this a disappointing issue. Overall grade: C

The art: This issue is the first misfire from artist Emilio Laiso. His previous issues have been incredible, but this time the visuals are very mixed. When a character is in close-up or the only one in the panel, the character looks fantastic. When shown from a distance, the character looks unfinished. Aphra’s first appearance on Page 1 looks great, and what’s shown of Caysin Bog also looks good. However, look at the third panel on the page: all three characters are lacking the fine details of the previous panel. Also not helping is the coloring effect making a light blaring above the characters, muddying the art. The reveal of Hivebase-1 is incredible. The facility has a simple, efficient design, but what Laiso has illustrated surrounding it is spectacular! Pages 6 and 7 contain a partial double-paged splash that uses circular panels to show details in a vehicle. This would have worked had there not been an incredible amount of dead pace in the upper right. The heart of the base is too blocky and undefined for the reader to feel any visual dread, with the dialogue spelling out how creepy the setting is supposed to be. Not helping is the reveal in the larger panel on 14 that is too far from any characters for the reader to see any of the awakened dread. This also holds true on 16, with the large panel having the threats again too far from the reader. When Laiso does pull in closer on 17, it’s primarily the back of the threats shown, rather than their fronts, which is just as bad as not showing them. The last page could have salvaged these threats, but with the exception of the one familiar character in the foreground the characters are, say it with me, “too far from the reader.” The visuals could have saved the story, but they do not. Overall grade: C

The colors: There are several panels in this book that are overwhelmed by colors creating a lighting effect. Page 1 has a light above the characters that blurs the artwork. It looks like a J.J. Abrams’s lens flare. The lights in the ceiling are continued to be blurry on 2 and 3. The blues used for the holograms on these pages are a welcome sight because they at least allow the art to remain clear. Page 4 has the best colored illustration of the issue with the station having some great work with grays, but the emeralds used are stunning. The reds used for Commander Yewl’s bridge are a terrific counterpoint to Aphra’s location. The oranges that commence on 14 are not varied enough for the effect that the story says is occurring: they are used as a blanket of colors, resembling a comic book from the 1980s. The large panel on the final page again uses weird flaring, but this time on the floor the characters are standing upon. Why, Rachelle Rosenberg? Some good and some questionable work on this issue. Overall grade: C-

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna creates this issue’s dialogue, sounds, transmissions and droid speech, a scene setting, some whistling, and yells. It’s odd to see characters that have a strong visual presence using speech that’s very thin, giving them a weak voice when they speak. The scene setting is difficult to read due to its design and coloring. The whistling is fun, but the lack of other sounds odd, given how the climatic battle is silent. The lettering is as frustrating as the rest of this book. Overall grade: B- 

The final line: The story becomes silly and the art and colors are mixed, creating a disappointing issue. The previous issues have been stunners, so this was a huge letdown. Given the previous history of this series, I’m still on board, but this had several huge steps in the wrong direction. Overall grade: C

To order a digital copy go to

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.
    No Comment