Rogue archaeologist Dr. Chelli Lona Aphra is the only real breakout new character from the rebooted run of Marvel’s Star Wars comic book universe, as evidenced by her getting her own second series beginning today, after having been first introduced in the pages of Star Wars: Darth Vader back in 2015.
2020’s Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1 resets the adventurer back to her roots, seeing as how she divorced herself from the whole Rebel Alliance / Galactic Empire situation at the end of the previous run. She’s also running free of most of her personal entanglements since she abandoned her lover, her ward, her father, and her evil droid frenemies to various fates when she made a clean break. Now Aphra has returned to doing what she’s good at– seeking out ancient artifacts through frequently questionable means.
This first issue of the newly renumbered Star Wars: Doctor Aphra title does actually begin with a quick sojourn to familiar territory, as she runs a quick scam on the Snowtroopers sifting through the rubble of Echo Base on Hoth with the help of her old Wookiee pal Black Krrsantan (the only other previously recognizable character to appear in this installment) and the beginnings of a new crew she’s putting together. We also meet ambitious archaeology student Detta Yao, Aphra’s rivalrous former classmate Professor Eustachia Okka, assistant droid TA-418, handy sniper Just Lucky, and new antagonist Ronen Tagge– a ruthless aristocrat and young relative of Imperial Army Chief Cassio Tagge.
All of these assorted personae are involved in some way or another in Aphra’s new quest to track down the fabled Rings of Vaale– supposedly cursed relics hidden on a foreboding and mysterious world. There’s Raiders of the Lost Ark-style race to the finish, however, and Aphra’s team will have to find a way to work together to acquire the rings before Tagge does. It’s a fun, fresh start for the character, though I’ve already started to miss those devious droids Triple-Zero and BT-1. I’m sure they’ll show up eventually down the line, but they’d become such essential counterparts to Aphra’s misadventures that it feels weird to embark on another one without them even being mentioned.
New Doctor Aphra writer Alyssa Wong (Marvel Future Fight Firsts) does a good job of carrying over the spirit of Chelli’s character, and/but the overall tone of the comic feels a little lighter than in previous incarnations largely thanks to the absence of Lord Vader and other Imperial entanglements. Like I said, I’m positive this book will evolve to resemble the darker atmosphere of arcs past, but as of the jumping-off point it’s more of a lark than we’re used to, even for such an unusually freewheeling addition to the Star Wars universe. The art by Marika Cresta (Power Pack) is lively and inventive, though I do wish the characters’ faces looked a little more consistent throughout. Overall, though, this is a promising rebirth for one of the most appealing recent newcomers to A Galaxy, Far, Far Away.
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020) #1 is now available for purchase at Marvel’s Digital Comics Shop, and the print edition will be released in stores on Wednesday, May 27.
Mike serves as Laughing Place’s lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly “Who’s the Bossk?” Star Wars podcast. He’s been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general since a very young age and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.