In Review: Doctor Aphra #2

This issue continues to cement Aphra's place as a major character in the Star Wars universe.

The covers: Four covers to find for this second issue in this Star Wars series. The Regular cover is by Kamome Shirahama and it has Aphra in quite the pickle. The ground has betrayed the protagonist and she’s falling to possible doom, accompanied by her pistol and a lot of debris. This is a good action shot of Aphra, with the perspective on her perfect, and the coloring excellent; I especially like how the light in the upper left is incredibly bright. The first Variant cover comes from no stranger to Star Wars comics — Dave Dorman. His cover shows that he should be doing covers for all of Marvel’s Star Wars comics, as well as the interiors to a SW book (Marvel, get on that!). Bee-Tee-One is in the foreground with a weapon on display. Behind him is Aphra with her pistol ready, then Triple Zero, and looming in the background is Dark Vader looking awesome; his red lightsaber skirts the D in the book’s title that draws the reader down to the characters. However, behind all is an outstanding snarling Palpatine. This is a terrific cover and demands that Dorman do more for Marvel! The Declan Shalvey Variant cover shows the droids, BT-1 and 0-0-0 leaving the scene of a crime, as the the background behind them is exploding in orange and yellow, casting the droids primarily in silhouette. This is a great, colorful cover, but the explosion overshadows the characters, and I’d rather see them up close than a silent BOOM! The final Variant is by Annie Wu and it’s the one I chose to accompany this review. It’s a magnificent image of Aphra walking forward with a tremendous smirk on her face. Vader’s back comprises the background and it, too, is awesome. The coloring makes this really stand out on the shelves with it’s brilliant crimson. Outstanding. Overall grades: Regular A, Variant Dorman A+, Variant Shalvey C+, and Variant Wu A+ 

The story: Rather than pick things up from where last issue left off, writer Kieron Gillen starts things up “Eighteen years ago…” with Aphra’s father finding one of his relics burning. Little Aphra appears, revealing why she destroyed the item. She will evoke sympathy from the reader, though her final line on the first page might take most of that sympathy away. A turn of the page has the story resuming to the present where Aphra is yelling at her father, demanding to know why he helped to have her doctorate pulled. He wants her help with something she doesn’t want to hear him utter again, “The Ordu Aspectu.” After an anguished wail, she invites her father back to her ship where they talk. Once there, the real Aphra comes to life, the one that fans saw in the too soon/recently cancelled Darth Vader series. I have to admit that Gillen absolutely roped me in with whom Aphra turns her father over to. The bulk of the book features what this “Ordu Aspectu” was and how it was doomed. All three versions of this group is great, and I would have been satisfied with just one version of it, but in having conflicting views of what it is makes its mystery greater, having Gillen build it up so that the reader wants to see what the truth will be revealed to be…in an upcoming issue. And though it was only one page, the third story that’s presented for the Ordu Aspectu had me laughing. The final four pages of the issue have a nice build, with plenty of clues where the characters are going, and the final page is nice scream of a tease. This location will have the fans very interested. Overall grade: A 

The art: I really like Kev Walker’s art. On the first page he’s able to create a believable science fiction location without having to employ any of the standard Star Wars visual tropes. He also is able to draw younger versions of the issue’s two leads; I’ve often seen artists have great difficulty create younger versions of familiar characters. Thankfully, the male character looks good, but the female character looks really strong. Helping it to no small end is the final panel on the first page being a good transitional image to the second page, where the same character is the focus. This first panel on the second page introduces the two leads and it includes, in the background, the droids and Black Krrsantan. Take at look at how Walker also introduces the setting: it’s very sparse, but its arches tell the reader that this is a much different setting than that of Page 1. The interiors of Aphra’s ship are also really well done, with massive amounts of details. The three stories that deal with the Ordu Aspectu are also terrific. The first two stories are only three pages each, but they are mirror images of each other. The reader should really take the time to go flip between the two to see how masterfully he’s able to tell what is essentially the same story but with very different visual spins. The work is that good. The final page is the one that left my mouth agape; I was not expecting that final image, but seeing it was fantastic, and it truly did deserve to be a full page splash. I have to repeat, Walker is doing some really good work on this book. Overall grade: A+

The colors: I’m mixed on the colors on this book by Antonio Fabela. The first page is awesome, colored primarily in a burnt red to enhance the fire that’s been set. Being a flashback, this leads to a good setup for the second page which is in white and light blues. These colors make the setting seem religiously pure, which is the tone that the text is leaning to for Aphra’s father. It’s on Aphra’s ship that the colors have me leaving the reading experience. Page 6 has Triple Zero blending in too much into the background in the third panel. It only gets worse on the third panel on the next page, which is odd because 0-0-0 is in the foreground of the image, but he’s colored like he’s in the background with Black. Speaking of which, why is that panel colored like the wookie is in a fog? More of the same continues on 8’s second and fourth panel. The three spins on the Ordu Aspectu are vibrantly colored, and there’s a really neat use of colors to show sun coming through a jungle’s foliage on the penultimate page. I love these pages, and most of the book, but it’s those few panels on Aphra’s ship that sadly stick in my head. Overall grade: B-

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna is responsible for scene settings, dialogue, yells, sounds, Triple Zero’s dialogue, and BeeTee’s dialogue. His work with the sounds are great, as is the dialogue for the droids, but the font for normal humans is very frail looking. So much so that even when a character yells it comes off as weak. Overall grade: B+

The final line: Aphra’s hooked into a quest that even she’s unsure of its validity. Where this issue takes Aphra is quite the surprise. This continues to cement Aphra’s place as a major character in the Star Wars universe. 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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