In Review: Doctor Aphra #6

An excellent conclusion to the first story arc with lots of action, as well as some sweet visuals.

The covers: A threesome to find for this concluding chapter on its first story arc. The Regular cover is by Kamome Shirahama. Aphra stands before her father, as a robotic hand wields a green lightsaber in the foreground. Her eyes are to her left, at another threat unseen by the reader. It’s a good layout undone by dark colors. The lightsaber’s emerald blade is lighting the scene, but leaves too much around the edges too dark; for example, what is she holding onto with her left hand? It’s impossible to make out. I can see it much more clearly online than on my copy of the book. A lighter shade for the backgrounds would have made this much better. The Star Wars 40th Anniversary cover by Rod Reis features one of my favorite scenes from the original film: Admiral Motti getting choked by Darth Vader. The positions of the characters is on point, with Tarkin showing some disdain at Vader’s use of the Force. This is a must own cover for Star Wars fans. There’s also an Incentive Variant cover by David Lopez which channels Indiana Jones: Aphra stops her descent on a rope into a chamber as several droids are raising their limbs to attack her. Great layout and excellent colors, with the background in a faded yellow, suggesting age, and the droid arms colored in several similar shades of grey and tan to suggest a mob mentality. Just excellent. Overall grades: Regular C+, Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant A, and Incentive Variant A 

The story: Within the Citadel of Rur, Captain Tolvan and her snowtroopers can’t enter the levitating core to capture Aphra and her father. Her suggestion to hail their shuttle to come about to get them in is interrupted by a massive droid that begins to glow green and wail, “Eternal Rur!” She orders her troopers to fire immediately. Several of the glowing droids surround the title character and her father within the structure, with them demanding to know “When is it?!” Aphra says she’ll tell after Rur states what happened to it. He agrees, telling them that he transferred his sentience into a container (a green crystal), leaving his body inhabited by “an evil, ghost inside my fleshy body.” It turned the Jedi against him, and a battle erupted. Many fell, but he lost when the crystal was dislodged from his machine. His tale told, Rur demands to know the date to discover how long he’s been unconscious. Learning that it has been thousands of years, there is no one to punish for what was done to him, so he turns his rage upon the living, having one of his droids power up a blaster at Aphra’s father. Kieron Gillen wraps up this story smartly, with Aphra doing everything one would do if in the same situation; chief among them, get the hell out of there. Their escape from Rur’s many hands is exciting, with Aphra using a weapon that solves many problems. However, she can’t leave the location empty handed, because she is all about the money. Her action on Page 11 was surprising, though not as much as the cliffhanger in the last panel on that page. This is followed by a great turn on 13, featuring an even stronger one on 14. The epilogue is very great, with 17 aping the conclusion to Raiders of the Lost Ark and 18 – 20 showing Aphra’s true character. An excellent conclusion in every way. Overall grade: A

The art: With the conclusion of this arc, I find myself eagerly awaiting to see more work from penciller Kev Walker and inker Marc Deering. I love the look of their characters. Tolvan opens the book and she shows some excellent fear in her first close up, which turns to rage when she finally encounters Aphra. And speaking of the title character, she starts the book looking absolutely frail as she hears of how the unholy Rur came to be, but when push comes to shove, she produces a weapon on 6 that has her attitude going 180 and her becoming undeniably fierce. She’s awesome on 7 and 8. The final two pages have her looking understandably weary, given the events of this issue, but ends with her looking fantastic. Her father, since things have gone poorly, has looked like a man well over his head, and he continues to do so in this issue, though he does have a slick, albeit quick, scene with his daughter on 16 where he tries to figure the way out of a situation with her. The settings of this book are wonderfully epic. The first page establishes the harsh environment that Tolvan and her troopers are up against, while the interiors where Aphra and her father are at are spectacularly alien. When Walker and Deering pull back to show the scale of the environment against the characters, such as on 9, 10, 15, and 17, is outstanding. The droids that Rur uses are terrific creations that remind one of the Golden Army from the second Hellboy film. The flashback sequence, though only one page, is an epic. Everything about this book looks epic. Overall grade: A

The colors: The many shades of green are used by Antonio Fabela to excellent effect. They are supernatural colors employed by Rur to show the rebirth of his mechanical minions and the crystal that his essence inhabits. It dominates the pages where Aphra and her father are confronting it, making the proceedings deliciously eerie. When the setting begins to crumble, the colors go crimson, mirroring the anxiety of the characters. The one page that shows “A Long Way From Anywhere, The Outer Rim” is a drab gray, giving the locale a lifeless feel. The colors go bright, but are grounded in reality, on 16, showing all is now normal. The colors by Fabela enhance the art considerably. Overall grade: A

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, Rur droid speech, Rur speech, yells, and wookiee speech are brought to life by VC’s Joe Caramagna. Rur having his own unique font differentiates him considerably from the others, and the wookiee’s dialogue makes him stand apart as well. I do wish the scene settings were a different font, as they sometimes blend in too easily to the art, as evidenced on the first page’s first panel. Some sounds would also have been good. There is a specific sound on 14, but it looks to have been included by Walker and/or Deering. A decent job, but some more sounds would have been welcome. Overall grade: B

The final line: An excellent conclusion to the first story arc with lots of action, as well as some sweet visuals. Recommended for those who love Star Wars or those who love adventure. 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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