In Review: Doctor Aphra #30

Another sensational chapter of the exploits of this marvelous malefactor.

The covers: A smashing pair of covers atop the continuing chronicles of the crookedest doctor in the galaxy. The Regular cover by Ashley Witter has Chelli raising an arm to lessen the glare of a bright light that points at her. Triple-Zero raises his arms in submission to show that he will cooperate. Anyone who knows this droid is aware of how this is probably a trick, because he’s a killer. One should also take note of where Aphra’s right hand is — resting upon the gun she has strapped to her thigh. The characters are excellent and the colors perfection. Great use of light and shadow on this frontpiece. The Greatest Moments Variant cover by Adam Hughes is overflowing with magma spewing about because it’s set upon Mustafar. Anakin are Obi-Wan are crossing blades in the top half of the image. Where their blades meet is the fateful meeting of Ani and Obi-Wan meeting on Tatoonie aboard Padmé’s ship in Episode I. This is a gorgeous pairing of time periods with incredible imagery. The colors are vibrant and thrilling. This is a MUST-OWN cover! Good luck tracking it down. I’m sure this is going to be sought after by everyone. Overall grades: Regular A and Greatest Moments Variant A+

The story: Aphra’s head is clearing after the crash she was in last issue. An unknown speaker is telling her “…we shall tear apart your droid to find out who’s been broadcasting  — this filth — from its eyes.” As this is occurring, Dr. Evazan, who’s responsible for putting Aphra and Trip into trouble on Milvayne, is reassuring Ponda Baba he doesn’t know why the signal from the droid has been interrupted. Aphra discovers she’s looking at Captain Okma, accompanied by three stormtroopers, holding Trip’s head up. He’s offering to take the proximity bombs out of her if she’ll say the Empire has the situation in hand on the planet. “The droid dies and you live. Or — refuse. And you’re both compactor feed.” That’s when writer Simon Spurrier has the title character do something stunning. This action changes the situation, yet again, with Aphra waking to discover how things are different. What Okma is doing is outstanding and absolutely horrible. My hat is off to Spurrier for it. Page 8 shows how a supporting character is now in a surprising location, bringing joy and sadness to Aphra. There’s another outstanding moment on Pages 12 and 13 that Trip won’t soon forget. As if Spurrier hasn’t had enough surprises in this issue, there’s a great return of a pair of characters on 14, with them realizing something about Aphra. Page 18 gives some unexpected backstory on a character, leading to Aphra ending in another incredible cliffhanger. This story continues to thrill, surprise, and leave me exhausted after all the twists and turns. Absolutely a joy. Overall grade: A+

The art: Emilio Laiso makes Aphra and Triple-Zero absolutely beaten looking on the opening page. Aphra is introduced on her hands and knees, unable to comprehend what’s occurred. Tip is unconscious, his head, which is face down, being lifted by an unknown hand. The full-paged splash on Page 2 is outstanding, revealing the stormtroopers and Okma holding the assassin droid’s noggin. Notice how Aphra has her face down for all of the third page, making the reader believe she’s acquiescing to the Imperial. The full-pages splash on 4 is epic with the positioning of the troopers and Okma outstanding. The point of view in the fifth panel on Page 5 makes the speaker look like a god talking down to Aphra — excellent choice. The large panel atop the next page is a horror, not only from the damage of Aphra’s crashed ship, but the individual who’s still smoking. It’s a horrific staging that beautifully exemplifies one character’s personality. The title character’s reaction to this smoking character on 7 is perfection. The reveal on 8 is the perfect motivator to have Aphra look at something with wide eyes, shocked at what she sees. The panorama of characters on the next page is excellent; the more aliens, the better! Page 12 and 13 is a very clever visual way to have the reader experience something that Trip sees. Very, very cool! The entrances on 14 are great and they continue to look impressive on every page they appear. The wildest alien I’ve seen in some time in any Star Wars books appears on 18 and I’m sure it’s not the last time this character will be seen. The book ends with another full-paged splash, with the smoking character dominating the scene, foreshadowing the Chelli’s fate. I’m officially a fan of Laiso’s art. More, please! Overall grade: A

The colors: This book’s stunning colors are created by Rachelle Rosenberg. Given that the issue is primarily set in the debris of a crashed ship, there’s seemingly little chance of bright colors. That’s not the case with Rosenberg on this issue. Aphra stands out wonderfully due to her green hat, blazing red goggles, and dirty rose top. Triple-Zero always stands out when his satanic red eyes are shown. The action on Page 4 has perfect colors with strong blues and white. The large panel on 6 has the browns and grays one would expect from so much destruction, but I cannot look away from the reds streaming from the smoking character. There’s movie quality blues for transmissions that call back to the films and the television shows. The variety of reds on 12 and 13 are stunning. I like how reds return on 18 for an entirely different reason. Simply fantastic. Overall grade: A

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna creates this issue’s dialogue, Aqualish speech, scene settings and character identifiers, Triple-Zero’s speech, and two sounds. I like that when Ponda Baba speaks he has a unique font that matches his unique sounds. The scene settings look good without the past shadow effect done under them. Trip’s dialogue is in italics which fits a droid. There are only two sounds in the book, with both looking good, but the one that ends the issue is appropriately ominous and drifting off into the distance. I like everything, save my usual grousing over the thin dialogue. Overall grade: A 

The final line: Another sensational chapter of the exploits of this marvelous malefactor. The story has a year’s worth of surprises in one issue and the visuals are wonderful. This continues to be one of the best original Star Wars tales published. Overall grade: A

To order a digital copy go to https://comicstore.marvel.com/Star-Wars-Doctor-Aphra-2016-30/digital-comic/50930?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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