Since it launched in 2016, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra has existed on the outskirts of the original trilogy of films, even with a heavy embrace of the villainous Darth Vader, though the series' final issue has offered some of its biggest connections to the events of those movies yet. While our hero might not have a direct impact on the events of those films, the dramatic conclusion to her storyline played a major part of Darth Vader's fate, as well as set the stage for the state of the Rebel Alliance and the events of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back when the film begins.
WARNING: Spoilers below for Star Wars: Doctor Aphra
After a relentless pursuit, Darth Vader finally catches up with Aphra and, by not revealing to him the location of the Rebel base, he sets his sights on her destruction. However, the quick-thinking archaeologist lures the Sith Lord into a chamber that heightens his Force abilities to such a degree that he is incapacitated by his memories and visions.
One reason this sequence is important to the original films is the reminder of Vader's past and that, when Vader is alone with his thoughts, we confirm that his mind goes to its darkest places. No matter how much he wants to convey that his humanity has been left behind, the above panels confirm just how vividly he remembers his most depressing experiences.
While neutralized, Aphra expresses to Vader that the more he attempts to bury all of his life's regrets, the stronger they become. This alludes to Vader's final confrontation with Emperor Palpatine, as he witnesses Luke Skywalker being tortured at the hands of his master. Despite his best efforts to quell whatever humanity might be contained within his armor, that remorse only grows stronger, ultimately leading him to throw Palpatine to his death.
Even later in the issue, Aphra reveals that, despite the Empire's probe droids having already scoured the galaxy in search of the Rebels, she manages to use her technical skills to scramble the data collected by hundreds of probe droids, forcing Vader and his fleet to start their search for the organization from scratch. This might not provide a direct connection to the opening of Empire Strikes Back, but it does justify how the Rebels were able to exist on Hoth for so long without being discovered by the Galactic Empire.
This final issue might not reveal that Aphra had a major influence over the events of the original films, but for a character who has largely been so detached from that mythology, fans of the character will be excited to see just how close she came to the events of those films and her importance in the overall lore of the series.
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #40 is on sale now. The series is set to return in April of 2020.
What do you think of the series? Let us know in the comments below or hit up @TheWolfman on Twitter to talk all things Star Wars and horror!
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.