In Review: Doctor Aphra #22

This book is funny, surprising, and exciting. This is the best of Star Wars.

The covers: The Bor gullet begins its disturbing work of reading Chelli Aphra’s mind. Looking at the title character, with one tentacle around her throat and two at her temples, the experience is not pleasurable. Ashley Witter created this cover that recalls a similar event from the film Rogue One. I wish the Bor gullet could be seen more clearly, as this, like the film, relies too much on suggestion and it’s not as threatening as seeing the actual creature. The Galactic Icons Variant cover is Grand Moff Tarkin illustrated by Rod Reis. This is another fantastic image from Reis that gloriously provides a bust shot of the character on a white background that’s filled only by the Imperial logo. I continue to search for all of Reis’s covers to collect. Overall grades: Regular B- and Galactic Icons Variant A+

The story: The first two pages of this issue, written by Si Spurrier, focus on bounty hunter Tam Posla who’s on the hunt for Doctor Cornelius Evazan. Posla lost his partner on his last job, which involved Doctor Aphra, whom he blames for the partner’s death. The story then moves to Accresker Jail, where Aphra is being kept. Former lover, Imperial Magna Tolvan is there to break her out in a TIE Fighter and was about to do so when Aphra found something that she could take for a profit. Poor Tolvan is left outside the jail and is finally scanned, revealing her position. She’s ordered to identify herself or be fired upon. Before she can decide what to do, she’s blasted from behind. Who shot her is a great reveal, and what Tolvan does to this individual is epic. On Page 6 Aphra and her friend and fellow inmate Lopset are shown encountering someone unexpected. This individual results in a tremendous threat to the protagonists, as well as everyone in the jail. Complicating matters is the object that Aphra sees. This is a wonderfully chaotic issue that changes direction with every turn of the page. When Aphra is tortured by the Bor gullet (and that’s no spoiler as it’s on the cover), the true danger within the jail is revealed, leading to a great cliffhanger. And speaking of cliffhangers, when the story returns to Tam Posla there’s a scream worthy reveal of a past character. This book is funny, surprising, and exciting. This is the best of Star Wars. Overall grade: A+

The art: Kev Walker on pencils and Marc Deering on inks are a fantastic team because they make this book look like a masterpiece. Tam Posla looks amazing, his ship is cool, and that holographic image of Dr. Evazan is awesome. I love how the panels on the first page aren’t straight; they’re tilted to add to the deranged state of the bounty hunter. The actions Posla performs at the start of the second page are frightening and the holograms in the second and third panels resemble the walls of a conspiracy theorist. The damage that Tolvan’s ship suffers is epic, but what the Imperial does on Page 5 is amazing! The reveal at the bottom of 6 is a great payoff to Aphra’s action at the top of that page. I love the amount of detail that Walker and Deering do with their settings: look at all the mechanical elements and debris that litter the walls and floor around Aphra and Lopset. Page 10 has a hilarious pair of images of two characters caught discovering something simultaneously. Page 12 has no text and brilliantly conveys to the reader what’s going through each character’s head. Page 14 has two glorious gross images: the Bor gullet and the Imperial officer in charge of the interrogation. The three images that show Aphra’s past convey several familiar faces she’s encountered in the run of this series, as well as those she’s killed. The reactions by the Imperial who’s reading the scans of the Bor gullet are perfect, with her last appearance being one of pure fright. Page 18 is a full-paged splash and had me screaming at who’s shown. The final panel of the book is a terrific cliffhanger with the title character at her most vulnerable, with those she’s betrayed behind her. Absolutely gorgeous work. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Increasing the impact of the art are the colors by Java Tartaglia. The touches of red on Tam Posla’s ship echo the bright colors on creatures in the wild that warn others to stay away. The hologram of Evazan is a monstrosity in blue that makes his frightful face even more grotesque. The interiors of Tolvan’s ship are a bright tan, giving her ship a lived in feel. The explosion that rocks her TIE is glorious in yellow and white. The blues that Aphra and Lopset encounter are awesomely alien, first used for a character and then employed for something incredibly dangerous. The colors used for the Bor gullet are a slimy flesh that will create shudders. For the three flashback sequences that are ripped from Chelli reds border the panels until they begin to overtake the imagery as her pain increases. And don’t get me started on the reds used on 18 that increased the shock of who’s on the page. Overall grade: A+

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna creates the scene settings, dialogue, sounds, transmissions and droid speech (the same font), and weakened speech. I’m remaining firm in my dislike of the dialogue font on all Star Wars books, which is so slender it renders all strong speech as impotent, and I’m not thrilled that the shape of dialogue balloons are used to differentiate transmissions and droid speech. The sounds are great in this book, though they are missing when a few blasters go off. Grousing aside, the book can still be read, but it would have such a better visual look if changes were made. Overall grade: B

The final line: This is a brilliant book. Exciting, funny, and epic. The story is great and the visuals are perfection. Seriously, why can’t Doctor Aphra get her own movie? Overall grade: A

To order a digital copy go to https://comicstore.marvel.com/Star-Wars-Doctor-Aphra-2016-22/digital-comic/48622?r=1

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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