The latest issue of Doctor Aphra forces its title character to choose between joining the Rebel Alliance and facing the wrath of the Galactic Empire all on her own.
The last time we saw Doctor Aphra, she came face-to-face with her ex-lover, whom she’d long believed to be dead. Tolvan is a rebel now. And Aphra is in big trouble.
Unless, that is, she’s willing to strike another deal.
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SPOILERS AHEAD for Doctor Aphra No. 33, starting in 3 … 2 … 1 …
THEY DID IT. They finally removed the proximity bomb from Aphra’s head. They address this directly in exactly one panel throughout this entire issue, which is hilarious considering that arc went on for months.
Don’t worry. The rest of this week’s story is much darker.
Captured by ex-girlfriend Tolvan (yikes) and not quite but almost prisoner of the Rebel Alliance, Aphra is faced with a choice. Does she help the rebels — her OTHER sworn enemies — or continue running from the Empire, possibly for the rest of her life?
It might not have been such a difficult choice if the Alliance hadn’t all but threatened to kill thousands of people with an extremely powerful blast sourced from a kyber crystal.
I did say things were about to get dark.
It turns out General Cracken’s primary goal is — understandably — to protect Senator Mon Mothma. But it takes a lot of effort and manpower to guard her and keep her location hidden and secure. So he plans to use the artifact Ahpra stole to “take care of” the problem.
Basically, Cracken wants to assassinate Emperor Palpatine. Because who doesn’t?
Oh! But that’s not all! Remember: The Rebel Alliance has the Death Star plans. They initially used those plans to find the station’s weakness and destroy it.
But guess what they could also do with those plans? Build a Death Star for themselves.
The Alliance doesn’t have the resources to do that, of course — they plan on coming up with a more compact version that could still get the job done. But that doesn’t change the fact that Aphra’s views of the “goodies” (good guys) have just been verified.
The conversation between Aphra and General Cracken reminds us of the Imperial perspective of the Rebel Alliance after the first Death Star. Some, like Aphra, refer to rebels as terrorists (they did, after all, contribute to the deaths of billions of people).
This is also what makes Tolvan’s involvement with the rebels feel like a betrayal to Aphra. She doesn’t trust the rebels. She SHOULDN’T trust Tolvan.
It’s refreshing to read scenes featuring top Alliance leaders through the lens of someone who considers them to be evil.
But it’s brilliant how Cracken’s monologue at the end of this issue sounds so much like one a true villain would deliver. He promises Aphra protection — and freedom from the evils that continue to pursue her. All in exchange for her help developing the weapon that will end the Emperor’s tyranny over the galaxy.
How do you know which side to join if both of them seem to be going about their ultimate missions the wrong way?
You don’t. Aphra doesn’t choose sides. She chooses her paths based on which one is going to benefit her the most.
Except sometimes, she chooses the path that benefits the ones she loves first.
The first thing Aphra wants to know, upon awakening from the stun charge, is what happened to Valaada, her adopted “mentee.” It’s no coincidence that a memory of her mother appears periodically throughout this issue, reminding her that the people she loves are, in all, the most important reason for making life’s hardest choices.
Ah, character development. Isn’t it sweet? More on that next time.
Doctor Aphra No. 34 hits physical and digital shelves July 17.