Comic Review – Chelli Witnesses the Ascendant’s Battle Against the Sith in “Star Wars: Doctor Aphra” (2020) #24

In recent issues of Star Wars: Doctor Aphra from Marvel Comics, the title character– rogue archaeologist Dr. Chelli Lona Aprha, has found herself possessed by the dark-side-replicating artificial intelligence known as the Spark Eternal.

The A.I. was created long ago by the Sith-obsessed (though non-Force-sensitive) cult known as the Ascendant, and in today’s new issue of Doctor Aphra, an unconscious Chelli encounters the Ascendant’s Chadra-Fan leader Miril while trapped inside her own memories.

Miril’s presence is something of a playful relic from the past, and she guides Aphra through a forgotten encounter with the Hast Antu Gang and then through a portal to the Spark Eternal’s memories, where we see Miril’s standoff against Sith “Darkseekers” who see the Ascendant as a threat against their Order. Meanwhile on the planet Birukay, Chelli’s various acquaintances (including Sana Starros, Kho Phon Farrus, and Magna Tolvan) have discovered where the archaeologist had stashed her two evil droids Triple-Zero and BT-1– fan favorite characters who have not appeared in canon since the end of the first volume of Doctor Aphra comics back in 2019. Of course the droids first attempt to murder the three companions, but when Sana offers them the opportunity to kill even more people, they can’t help but hear them out. Back in Aphra’s “Memory Box,” Miril defeats the Darkseekers with Aphra’s help and they travel to another of the Spark Eternal’s memories– this time located in the hidden Ascendant Sanctum deep underneath Bar’leth University.

This issue ends with a reveal that, in addition to the Ascendant weaponry we’ve already seen used in this comic previously, Miril was also developing a special weapon capable of killing the Sith– and back in the “present day” that same dangerous weapon just happens to fall into the hands of the possessed Aphra. It’s a cliffhanger that leaves us wondering how assassin Just Lucky and his partner in crime Ariole Yu are going to deal with the Spark Eternal, and whether or not Chelli will ever regain control of her body (of course she will, but I’m sure it’s going to be interesting to see just how she does it). In Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Volume II #24, writer Alyssa Wong and artist Minkyu Jung have continued a winning streak of entertaining, exciting comic storytelling. I’m really glad to have Triple-Zero and BT-1 back after a two-and-a-half year absence, and I can’t wait to discover how this Spark Eternal arc wraps up in later issues.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #24 is available now wherever comic books are sold.

Mike Celestino
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 all his life and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.