Star Wars: Doctor Aphra No. 36 review: Vader returns


Doctor Aphra has a way of outsmarting her enemies. Unfortunately, not many can outsmart a Sith Lord in Star Wars.

This review contains spoilers for Star Wars: Doctor Aphra No. 36. Check back in later after reading if you don’t want to know what happens yet.

You know how every villain has a plan — and for whatever reason always seems to feel the need to reveal said plan to the protagonist in the form of an extensive, dramatic monologue?

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It’s not very often that one villain’s “plan” ends up revealing a tangled, multi-layered web of lies and deception existing on both sides of a conflict.

Of course Doctor Aphra gets caught in the middle of it. She isn’t on anyone’s “side.” She works for whoever is going to benefit her cause the most at the moment. Which doesn’t always backfire … except when it does.

The last time we left Aphra and company, they were “guests” of Pitina Voor, Imperial Minister and latest Person Who Really Wants Emperor Palpatine Deceased (there are a lot of those in the galaxy, it turns out).

Voor spends most of the first half of this issue telling Aphra all about her plan — how she told the rebels Aphra had the weapon they wanted, how she knew Aphra would take it back and try to escape and deliver it to its “rightful” place.

But Voor wasn’t the only one with a plan. There’s so, so much more to it than that.

This was all slightly confusing on the first read, but basically what it comes down to is this:

  • Voor knew Aphra would steal the weapon for her own gain, so she told the Rebel Alliance who had it, and they captured her knowing she would steal it again.
  • The Alliance tricked Aphra into thinking they had the resources to overthrow Palpatine so she would agree to help them.
  • Voor tricked Aphra into thinking she had rightfully delivered the weapon back to the Empire, only to reveal she planned on using it to carry out her own assassination attempt but make herself look like the hero.
  • BUT: Aphra tricked everyone by secretly recording Voor’s tirade because “nobody searches the Wookiee” making it easy to give said Wookiee the tools necessary to hack the recording system and broadcast a live feed to, apparently, the entire galaxy.

Which should have been the end of it all, but isn’t. It never is when Aphra tries to beat everyone else to the punch.

By exposing Voor, Aphra and Valaada have technically thwarted an assassination attempt and have saved Palpatine’s life.

However, a certain someone named Darth Vader has a tini tiny grudge against Aphra. And he’s not going to let her get a hero’s treatment. Not even for a second.

So, in one of the most fascinatingly terrifying pages this comic has blessed us with so far — we see Darth Vader towering over Aphra and Valaada, lightsaber drawn, looking down at his newest “recruits” in that menacing way only a Sith Lord can.

“Doctor Aphra, arise. Your Empire has need of you.” YIKES.

So it looks like Aphra is back with the Empire. But not (at all) by choice.

Well. This will be interesting.

It makes perfect sense that this series is going to, in a way, end right back where it started — with Aphra trapped beneath Vader’s hold. How the rest of all this is going to play out, however, isn’t quite as predictable.

Who’s ready for some major Aphra sass when face-to-face with her new boss? She’s going to get herself Force-launched out of an airlock if she’s not careful.

Knowing her, she’d figure out a way to survive that, too.

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We are quickly approaching the final issues of this run of Doctor Aphra. What do you hope to see take place before the series ends?