In Review: Doctor Aphra #9

The start of Aphra trying to cut a deal puts the characters in place, with the final page being scream inducing.

The covers: Just a pair to collect for this ninth installment of Star Wars’ newest rising star. The Regular cover is by Kamome Shirahama and it’s got Aprha doing something she’s not done before: dress up. She’s wearing a gown that looks more befitting for Leia, but Chelli pulls it off, looking gorgeous. Look at the bottom of her dress as it rises up like enchanted vapor. To her right is Triple Zero and BeeTee-One, while to her left is Black Krrsantan, with the wookiee also looking spruced up. The lights behind the foursome sparkles as if they’re walking the red carpet, which teases what’s to be found within this issue. This is a good cover, but I prefer Aphra to look much grittier. The Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant cover is by Reilly Brown & Jim Charalampidis and features a new take on the Millennium Falcon appearing before the Death Star. Asteroid debris tumbles about the FalconALDERAAN!!! — as it speeds in pursuit of a lone TIE fighter to an object that’s no moon. The art is beautiful and the colors resplendent. Definitely one to pick up. Overall grades: Regular B+ and Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant A

The story: After stealing the Rur Crystal and reactivating it, Aphra takes it to Isolate-4 Lab in the Outer Rim to test a containment field for it. Awakening the crystal’s AI, the device wants revenge on the thief, but it cannot use its abilities to control electronics. “Who are you? And what do you desire from immortal Rur?” it asks, causing Aphra to smile. This is followed by a double-page spread containing the title of this sage on a field of black, “Doctor Aphra and the Enormous Profit.” Kieron Gillen’s story then moves forward weeks later to the Sorca Retreat, where bidders have arrived to obtain the crystal. There are three reasons for purchasing it: 1, it’s technology could be mined to learn how to live forever; 2, it contains ancient Jedi intel; and 3, it’s a technopath. This final attribute is questioned by one of the bidders and is answered in dramatic fashion. I was very pleased to see that Gillen addressed a pertinent question I had by having a character ask it. The response on Page 15 is fantastic. Two characters, though, are not thrilled with what Aphra is doing and contact someone that will have readers screaming until the next issue comes out. This issue was a big change of pace for the title character, and I didn’t enjoy it as much as previous issues. Having Aphra going glitzy to make a sale is like putting Indiana Jones in a tuxedo to make a deal. Yes, it can be done, but it’s not what I want. That said, I’m more than willing to dole cash or “take care of people” to get Gillen to write Indiana Jones comics once Disney gives the okay to Marvel. Overall grade: B-

The art: The first four pages are a beaten down location never seen before in Star Wars story, but fit in perfectly thanks to Kev Walker on pencils and Marc Deering on inks. Krrsantan communicates a lot of emotion with just a look at the top of Page 4 that no translation is necessary for the reader to know what’s going through his head. And the same can be said of the smug smile by the person at the bottom of the same page. I was really impressed by the variety of aliens in this issue, starting with a sensational trio of Rodians that are shown arriving at the Sorca Retreat. I was surprised to see the large character on 9, who looks great and has a hilariously disgusting bit of slime emerging from his mouth with the turn of his head. The dress that Aphra’s wearing is great, but the mask is too much; it made it seem like she was playing dress up, rather than setting up a deal. Page 13 is extremely well done, with the art telling the story as much as the text. Those fourth and fifth panels are just flat out awesome, and I really, really want to see Walker and Deering illustrate more characters like this pair, they look that good. 15 is almost a full-page splash where the visuals further the plot without any text, until the inserted panel’s text is read. Very cool, with the action smooth and the wide swath of characters impressive. The visuals continue to be excellent with Pages 17 – 19 communicating the emotion of the characters without the dialogue having to be read, though you really should read what the disagreeable pair are saying. The close-ups on 19 are a sensational build to the final page which is fantastic. More from Walker and Deering, Marvel! Please! Overall grade: A

The colors: Antonio Fabela’s completes the dingy illustrations that open this book with several shades of gray to give it a distressed look. The Rur Crystal is a neon emerald, always taking focus, and when freed from the crystal Rur dominates the panels, as its green light is reflected onto everything, which Fabela does superbly. The exterior of the Sorca Retreat is beautiful in reds and yellows; I hope that more of this structure will be seen. Aphra’s dress is black with violet highlights and it stands out among all the other characters’ garb at her auction. I love how greens dominated the setting when Rur is released before the bidders, so cool! The use of reds on the penultimate page are great, as they grow in size with each panel, which should be foreshadowing for the reader before turning the page. The final illustration employs blacks and blues perfectly. This is terrific work. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Scene settings, wookiee speech, Triple Zero’s speech and an editorial note (the same font), dialogue, and BeeTee’s sounds are by VC’s Joe Caramagna. There also sounds in this book, but they look to be done by the artists. The scene setting font is boring and appears blurry to its outlining, but Krrsantan and BeeTee’s sounds are awesome. The dialogue continues to be weak, sadly. A mixed bag. Overall grade: B

The final line: The start of Aphra trying to cut a deal puts the characters in place, with the final page being scream inducing. Seeing Aphra hustle to make the big bucks is okay, but not as enjoyable as her stealing something. The visuals, though, are outstanding. This could be seen more favorable when more of the story is revealed. Overall grade: B+

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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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