Comic Review – Luke, Chelli, and R2-D2 Encounter Strange Occurrences in “Star Wars: Doctor Aphra” (2020) #33

The latest issue of Star Wars: Doctor Aphra from Marvel Comics was released today, and it sees our antihero title character, Dr. Chelli Lona Aphra the rogue archaeologist, continuing her adventure with would-be Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker on a quest to retrieve the artifact known as Kythoo’s Bell.

Doctor Aphra, Volume II, #33 begins with a flashback to “many years ago” in the Sason temple on the galaxy’s Outer Rim. Jedi Masters Aayla Secura and Shaak Ti train Padawans there, and worry that Kythoo’s Bell might be too powerful for the temple to hold. Cut to the “present” of this comic (set between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi), where Aphra and Skywalker have arrived at that same temple to find holographic illusions of Aayla and Shaak greeting them upon falling into an underground chamber. As the two explorers begin to make their way around the interior of the temple, they gradually discover more about its nature– it’s made of resonant crystal (but not Kyber) and it’s capable of tricking them into going at each other’s throats. There’s also a familiar-looking monster seemingly being held prisoner within its walls, but they’ll find out more about that at the end of this issue. First it’s time for another flashback, where Secura and Ti warn the Padawans about the sound echoing throughout the temple, and what they need to do if it ever stops.

Back in the present, Luke and Chelli encounter a pit of spikes and face more trials as they make their way ever closer to Kythoo’s Bell. There’s some very interesting (and occasionally intense) interplay between these two characters as they reveal their true motivations for going on this journey, and then the issue climaxes with them dismantling the structure that keeps the bell intact and preserved in the temple. This month’s cliffhanger ending is the tantalizing reveal of the Starweird, an ancient being that first appeared way back in the Legends-canon Wizards of the Coast Star Wars roleplaying game. I’ll be very curious to see how the Doctor Aphra comic makes use of this bizarre creature from Star Wars lore past, and I must say that I’m really loving this arc of the comic so far. It’s absolutely wonderful watching Aphra and Luke bounce off each other as frenemies, and a welcome change of pace from Chelli’s usual gang of misfits. I also appreciated getting the confirmation that this arc takes place after the current arc of Star Wars: Darth Vader, in which Chelli also appears. Writer Alyssa Wong and artist Minkyu Jung are absolutely doing a bang-up job of making this story feel authentically Aphra in its thrilling exploration of this franchise’s long-forgotten history.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #33 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.