In Review: Doctor Aphra #35

Someone get this Doctor a doctor to save it.

The covers: Two covers to collect for this issue. The Regular cover by Ashley Witter has Aphra in the most surprising image yet — she’s an Imperial officer! Surrounded by other Imperials, Aphra has a slight smile on her face as she looks at the reader and winks. Only Aphra could be around so much trouble and treat the situation so lightly. I love this. The Greatest Moments Variant by Greg Smallwood features one of my favorite characters from one of my favorite Star Wars films. In Jabba the Hutt’s throne room, Luke Skywalker raises his head to look upon the gangster as several aliens behind him wonder if the Jedi will survive the interview. I like the layout and the colors, but the image is really soft, creating uncertainty from the lead and distance from the background characters. Neat, but it does look like a printing error. Overall grades: Regular A and Greatest Moments Variant C

The story: Magna Tolvan has surprised Aphra by appearing behind her with a knife to the title character’s neck. As Tolvan tells Aphra how predictable she is, Aphra tells her to grab an oxygen mask. Before Tolvan can understand what’s going on a window explodes from the outside and Wookiee bounty hunter Black Krrsantan enters, wearing a space suit, pointing a massive rifle at the former Imperial agent. As Tolvan and the Wookiee battle, Aphra tries to reason with the woman, finally getting her to listen by showing her a hologram. “They’re going to use the Farkiller to build this. Shoot the palace on Coruscant — take out Palpatine. Along with few thousand bystanders.” Giving the weapon to the Empire is the only way for Aphra to clear her name. “I have to take this. I have to give it to them. Thousands die if I don’t.” Writer Simon Spurrier has Tolvan reluctantly agree and Aphra, Krrsantan, and Vulaada make their way to Imperial space, but not before another flashback to Arbiflux. This is unnecessary and adds nothing to this issue’s tale. Back in the present, many, many Imperials receive Aphra’s plea, with a surprising one at the bottom of Page 10. The appearance on 12 frightened me for it’s implications, but I was able to breath easier after what occurred on 13. The dialogue on 15 is great and the setting on 16 incredible — I could have spent a ton of time at this place. The reveal on 20 is a jaw-dropper. This book consistently has Aphra getting out of one mess and then finding herself in a situation that’s kicked up to level 11 in trouble. This is a fun read. Overall grade: A-

The art: The visuals are a little better this issue, but still not as strong as in previous storylines. The pencils are by Andrea Broccardo and the inks by Marc Deering & Scott Hanna. The Rebel fleet looks fine in the opening panel, as do Tolvan and Aprha on the rest of the page. The explosive action in the fourth panel is difficult to make out because of its size and point of view. The entrance on the second page, which is a full-paged splash, is excellent. The skirmish between the characters on the following page is good, and I was happy to see that weightlessness played a part in the struggle. The reaction by the larger character at the end of the page is believable and funny. Pages 4 and 5 don’t work because of a lack of backgrounds and those that do appear are really simple. The Farkiller looks especially simplistic, even compared to previous issues. The battle occurring in the first panel on 6 is easy to comprehend, but, again, looks really simple, with, again, simple backgrounds. This is also the case on Page 7. I like the look of all of Page 8, but this moment doesn’t need to be in this story. The design of the Imperial Communication Relay on Usk Minor is terrific and I love the hologram that it receives. The different settings that this message is seen at are terrific, with that final one on 10 neat, but the reflections are, again, simple. The bottom of Page 11 has the stormtroopers’ feet disappearing. The first panel on 12 is killer, but the secondary character on the page looks not so great. The entrance on 14 is good, but the characters look odd, with the female character elongated and the troopers bulky and their helmets strange. Much better is the next page, with everything looking cool. The same can also be said of the next page — this setting is terrific. The character speaking in the second panel on Page 17 looks as though she’s aged 20 years between panels. And what happened to the characters in the last panel on this page? Black Krrsantan has become ultra cartoony on the next page. The last panel of the book is a good surprise, but after the initial shock, the object in the sky looks like a bad cut and paste job. This does look much better than last issue, but is still not great. Overall grade: C+

The colors: Chris O’Halloran is the book’s colorist and he’s okay. There are a variety of colors in this book, but everything looks incredibly muted –no shades are explosive. There’s a constant dim look to this book. The explosion on 1 is a muted yellow, Krrsantan’s roar on the second page is a muted, dead red. The sounds are even muted on the third page. Pages 4 and 5 are blasé in light blue and gray. The flashback sequence is in browns and rusts. The holograms are the palest blues in the history of Star Wars comics. The entrance on 14 is dead blue and dead violet. Page 15 and 16 should be bright colors because the actions are being taped for a broadcast, but the boring shades continue. This book comes across as dead because of the colors. Overall grade: D

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, sounds, Wookiee speech, transmissions, and yells are all created by VC’s Joe Caramagna. The scene settings come across as blurry due to the white outlines and the color choices for them. The dialogue looks weak, even when yelled. The character that speaks on 12 comes across as particularly anemic, which this character never is. The Wookiee speech is fine, as are the transmissions. The yells are horribly weak because they’re just done in a larger size of the dialogue font. Much needs to be done with this series’ lettering. Overall grade: C- 

The final line: This is better than the previous issue, but still suffers in art, colors, and letters. The story is fantastic, with plenty of twists and turns and humor that this series has had. Every other element of the book is a letdown. Someone get this Doctor a doctor, STAT! Overall grade: C

To order a digital copy go to https://comicstore.marvel.com/Star-Wars-Doctor-Aphra-2016-35/digital-comic/52384?r=1

To see the covers visit my Instagram account at 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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