Paging Doctor Aphra
The original comic came out a couple years back. We’re talking back in 2015. I am referring to the Darth Vader comic published by Marvel in 2015. But this is only the lead in to what I am actually going to talk about. And to drag this out even further I am going to make an obscure and meaningless observation.
I used to collect the Star Wars comics that came out in the late 70s and early 80s. I can honestly say I remember next to nothing of the original stories. These were comics that had some basis in the movies but expanded on the source material. And they connect to the more recent thoughts because they too were published by Marvel. It’s funny when you consider this now that both Marvel and Disney are owned by Disney. They’ve been playing together long before all that went down. Side bar over for the moment.
Anyway, I started with reading the Darth Vader stuff. This series takes place after the Battle of Yavin (the destruction of the first Death Star, in case you didn’t know the reference). Through various sources Vader has learned who destroyed the big ball and he is searching for him. There isn’t a lot of talk of the Skywalker connection but we as readers know it at this point. I mean, people who don’t even pay attention to Star Wars know this. The secret is nothing even close to a secret to all of us outside of the action in the pages.
Back to the thoughts… So, he is doing this covert search for the boy. In the process he is also fighting through machinations of the Emperor, who is doing his best to test and vex his servant. We see the interplay of constant power struggles and sometimes we have to wonder just how Vader manages to get all the things done while all this is going on around him.
Which brings us to the actual thoughts for the day. See, Vader uses various mercenaries and bounty hunters for various tasks that need doing. The use of Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes back wasn’t even the first time he employed the Fett. There is some history that could be explored at length. But I’m trying to lead into something unexpected instead of that.
This is when we come to the character of Doctor Aphra. I honestly don’t know if she was a creation specifically for these storylines or if she had a place in the greater world of stories before her appearance here. But it is a bit neither here nor there for what my thoughts are flipping around.
To start, you have to picture an archeologist along the lines of Indiana Jones, she even wears a stupid hat. But it’s in space and she ends up working for the villain. She also has a couple psychotic droids that enjoy blowing things up and draining the blood of sentient beings. She becomes a lynch pin within the storyline of the Darth Vader comics. Essentially his personal assistant without being a force trained Hand.
I had grown to enjoy the interplay within the first volume of the series. But it threw me off in the second volume when she only had a mention in the early parts. I felt like I had missed a major part of the storyline. And I had. Turned out there was an annual with a separate storyline that explained the missing chunk of time.
And there was something else that had come from within that framework. In 2016 Marvel gave us a spin off series focused entirely on her escapades. Oddly (irony intended), the series was simply Doctor Aphra. She still had her murderous droids and still went on crazy and bizarre adventures. But at least in the early parts of the series (I have only read through the first volume so far) it is believed that she is dead in the Empire. That belief shouldn’t last too long though, since she is still running around and doing the fancy archeologist bit.
And it’s funny, after that reveal I am not sure where I was going with this. I suppose I should dig through my thoughts and see what else I can pull out of the mess. I suppose, for me, this is a character I have never seen before, and she is working within the time of rebellion without being one of the major players in those stories. And I am still getting this great Star Wars vibe from it all.
In that first volume she ends up on a quest with her father (Star Wars is such the story swamp of dysfunctional parenting). And throughout the story we are running into rebels and imperials and all the classic alien creatures. In a way it’s a hero story on the outskirts of the rebellion. But the hero isn’t really a hero and she does some very bad things, not to mention the group she hangs around with. Maybe it’s just me but I find joy in the idea of psychotic droids that are anxious to maim and kill the humans around them.
Now where does that leave us? I could go into the whole plot line of the first volume, but that would be doing spoilers and I am lazy. Instead I am more inclined to mention that it is something worth digging into. These comics do a fantastic job of building the larger universe that the stories take place in. We see bits and pieces of daily lives that are glossed over in most of the other source material of the stories.
If you enjoy these stories, consider leaving some coffee money in the jar or you could buy a book or two. Either way helps keep the stories flowing.