Spawning out of Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader series, Doctor Aphra stars a morally questionable archeologist set during the Civil War era in the Star Wars Universe. In a lot of ways this series feels like Indiana Jones in a Science-Fiction Fantasy environment. She’s hunting for dangerous artifacts while also being chased by the Empire. Oh, and unlike the Indiana Jones series, the first major story arc involves the archeologist’s father.
Written by Gillen, Doctor Aphra 6 concludes the first story arc with some major reveals, some great action and some great jokes at the end. Aphra and her father have spent this story arc searching for answers about an ancient order known as the Ordu Aspectu. The Ordu had some sort of ties with the Jedi of old, as in before the Old Republic was formed. Earlier in the story arc, the debate between Aphra and her father as to whether the Ordu were good or evil provided a lot of entertainment. In the previous issue, they awoke some sort of Ordu spirit, the Eternal Rur, to finally get some answers. After they get their answers in this issue, Rur shows its true colours by trying to kill everyone in the area, be it Aphra, her father, or the imperial Stormtroopers chasing them.
The action gets pretty intense, with Rur somehow able to control all sorts of droids and other machines, even modern ones. It’s at the point where Aphra and the Empire need to work together to survive, not that Aphra is above destroying the bridge with the Stormtroopers on it, leaving only their officer alive. By the story’s end, Aphra and her father have at least partially repaired their strained relationship. There’s also this one moment that directly resembles the ending of The Lost Ark, except it’s subverted in a hilarious way.
The art by Kev Walker is mostly good. The steam coming out of all the droids that Rur takes over gives the action a creepy vibe. Facial expression perfectly capture emotions, like the sad look in the eyes of Aphra’s father when he learns his search for answers is very likely over, the cold anger in the Imperial Officer’s eyes when she’s marooned and Aphra’s mischievous grin on the very last panel. Aphra tying up her hair before she starts fighting Rur’s robots is a nice touch. The flashbacks showing what happened in lost history is put into a neat montage that blends well with the panels from the main story. That said, there are times when the action is a bit hard to follow. The colouring by Antonio Fabela is great. The green lighting wherever Rur is enhances the comic’s somewhat creepy vibe and also helps us know which droids and machines are being controlled. The red tones during the action scene not only help give the comic an intense feel, but they directly signify the self-destructing temple. The rest of the comic is fairly colourful, with good use of shadows and glares from the sun.
This is a great comic, and a fantastic start to the Doctor Aphra series. Next up is a crossover with the main Star Wars series. Considering Aphra’s previous hostile encounters with Luke Skywalker and his allies, their upcoming meeting should be great fun. If the idea of Indiana Jones in the Star Wars Universe interests you, check this series out.