Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1 Review: A Complex Character Gets Back to Basics

Disney has delivered Star Wars fans a number of new characters in the years since their purchase of Lucasfilm, though you'd be hard-pressed to find a character in any medium that has earned as passionate a following as Doctor Aphra. Despite debuting in her own comic book series back in 2016, Aphra has given characters in movies, TV shows, and video games in the galaxy far, far away a run for their money in popularity, yet the stories in which she starred didn't always match the quality of the character herself. Now that the tech-enhanced archaeologist is back with a new Star Wars: Doctor Aphra series, the slate has been wiped clean for the character, which holds more promise for future stories than are realized in the premiere issue.

In the wake of burning bridges with her father and her Imperial-turned-Rebel love interest Magna Tolvan, Aphra is back to doing what she does best and is seeking ancient relics. Well, it might not be what she does best, but it's certainly what she chooses to focus on instead of pursuing selfish gains that do nothing but hurt everyone connected to her. After a chance encounter with figures from her past, Aphra is presented with the opportunity to obtain a supposedly "cursed" relic with the help of explorers who all have different motivations for finding the item, potentially presenting a truly equal partnership for the rogue. Sadly, these beneficial figures aren't the only ones who emerge from her past.

Aphra fans love the character for her quick-thinking and resourcefulness, in addition to her charm and sense of humor, all of which are on display in this debut issue. One of the bigger drawbacks to the previous volume of Doctor Aphra is that, the farther we went along in the series, the more layered its mythology got, with each issue presenting a dense narrative that required readers to catch themselves up with every character's motivations and allegiances, much to the detriment of the story itself. Luckily, the nature of a debut issue means we can truly put the past behind us and focus on our hero's compelling characteristics.

This isn't to say that we've officially moved on from Aphra's history, as there are a handful of references to what the character left behind, surely exciting fans that those characters could somehow make a return. Additionally, the new characters that are introduced seem to be just as interesting as any character from the previous series, with the added bonus that we don't need to flip through previous issues to try to remember their motivations. We can believe that Aphra's new allies are really her allies, and her foes are really her foes.

This new entry is surely off to a better start than the overly complex nature of the end of the previous Doctor Aphra run, which is sure to relieve fans, but taken on its own, there's little about the book that is exceptional. Marika Cresta's art and Rachelle Rosenberg's colors are what really make this debut chapter so rich, as we're transported from Hoth to colorful bars to makeshift museum, with each atmosphere fully immersing the reader in the locale. From a conceptual level, it's a relief to know that one of the saga's most compelling female characters is getting a comic book largely from female creators, regardless of the compelling stories we've previously seen crafted for the character.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1 lacks a certain magic that prevents it from being a must-read, but the seeds have been planted that the book's upcoming adventures could surpass its predecessors, due in large part to the fact that overly complex storylines have been put in the rearview mirror and the character's future looks brighter than ever.

Published by Marvel Comics

On May 27, 2020

Written by Alyssa Wong

Art by Marika Cresta

Colors by Rachelle Rosenberg

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Letters by Joe Caramagna

Cover by Valentina Remenar