In Review: Doctor Aphra #26

The Defiant Ones meets Star Wars as two characters try to survive one another.

The covers: Two different covers to find, almost as if there were tethered by a bomb. The Regular cover is by Ashley Witter and looks like an image from a Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis film as the title character and Triple-Zero race through Milvayne together. Five speeders are in pursuit of the criminals, as are four flying cars. The characters look sympathetic and completely vulnerable on this cover, but long time readers know that’s not true. The city is delightfully futuristic and the colors are incredible with the blue lights looking superb against the violet streets. The Galactic Icons Variant cover is by Rod Reis and features L3-37 from Solo. This is a fine bust shot of the woke droid and one that I will have to track down to add to my collection. Reis is making these variant covers must-owns. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant A+ 

The story: Simon Spurrier has created a very twisted version of The Defiant Ones: Aphra and Triple-Zero have had bombs planted inside them. If they are more than twenty meters apart from each other for more than thirty seconds the bombs will go off. If one of them kills the other, the bombs go off. They’ve been placed in this situation by criminal Doctor Cornelius Evazan for entertainment. He also placed feed cameras within the assassin droid’s eyes so that he and his companion Ponda Baba can pass the time while he builds his friend a new arm. Things don’t go well from the start with the droid killing a man checking their documents at landing. Then they attract the attention of the local police who’ve got them covered by three flying cars. The story continues to place the pair in the direst of situations, with the droid freely killing all in its way, while Aphra tries to get it to accomplish his goals more subtly. The pair seem to have found a way out of their predicament on Page 14, but there’s a complication on 19 which is worsened by the conclusion. Spurrier makes “Worst Among Equals” a deliriously dark action/comedy. The dialogue between the pair is incredible, with Trip constantly smacking the doctor about psychologically, reminding her of all she’s hurt or killed. Aprha is always damned if she does something and damned if she doesn’t. One thing is absolutely sure, this story is damn entertaining. Overall grade: A+

The art: This title has always had incredible artwork and Emilio Laiso continues that tradition. The establishing shot of where Aphra and Trip have landed looks great and the three panels that follow create some great movement for the doctor and the man behind the glass. The panel that ends the page is dark and funny. Page 2 is a full-paged splash that introduces Milvayne to the characters and reader and it’s a wonder that matches that of Corruscant from Attack of the Clones, though there aren’t as many people on the streets. I love the hologram advertisements in the sky. The fourth page introduces Evazan and Baba to the reader, watching the pair’s hijinks on a projection. They look like two guys watching the game from their recliners, with each holding a drink. The visuals on 5 and 6 show, without help from any text, that two characters believed dead might still have some life in them. The action on 7 and 8 is awesome as the criminals run down the street as the authorities blast them; the terror in the fourth panel on 7 is fantastic. 10 and 11 contain excellent reaction shots of the doctor realizing she’s woefully out of her league being attached to Triple-Zero. I was glad to see her stand up to the deadly droid in 14’s fourth panel. How the characters are positioned on 15 – 17 is fantastic, which each unable to look away from the other. The use of blacks to show the progression of unconsciousness on 17 wonderfully mirrors what is occurring. Page 20 is a full-paged splash that delivers a graphic image without showing anything graphic. Nicely done, Mr. Laiso! Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: Rachelle Rosenberg is the book’s colorist and she completes the fantastic imagery well. I love the violet skies of Milvayne, which gives the location an otherworldly feel. The green barrier between Aphra and the clerk on the opening page marvelously tints the man behind it. When it turns a harsh orange in the final panel every reader will know that something painful has occurred. The greens and blues on 2 contribute handsomely to the futuristic setting. Triple-Zero’s crimson eyes are a constant reminder of his evil nature and they always command focus when on the page. The black, white, and gray panels on 6 are a neat way to show a flashback, rather than the oranges and tans employed in other books. The harsh orange on the display before Aphra on 11 – 13 increase the biting words of Trip. The reds used to highlight the character on the final page make the individual demonic. Fantastic! Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna creates dialogue and narration, Trip dialogue, sounds, scene settings, a scream, a computer’s voice. I’m not a fan of the ultra thin font in any of the Star Wars comics and have brought it up constantly. Another disappointing visual has been the scene settings which have had a white border around the letters which causes the text to often be lost in the artwork. With this issue the white border has disappeared and the text is much more easy to read. WooHoo! Triple-Zero’s dialogue is neatly set apart from others by being in italics. The sounds and the issue’s sole scream are beautiful to look upon, even if they’re not fun for the characters. Overall grade: B+ 

The final line: The Defiant Ones meets Star Wars as two characters try to survive one another. The story is fun, emotional, and definitely twisted. The visuals are gorgeous, with the art beautiful and the colors joyful. This is an outstanding Star Wars story and an excellent issue to begin this series. 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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