Admittedly, I was a little puzzled why Marvel chose the character Doctor Aphra to fill the spot left vacant by the Darth Vader series. That’s not to say I didn’t think she was a great character, it’s just that her story seemed extremely periphery when compared to the weight of those Vader issues. By the conclusion of that series, it seemed like Aphra’s story was concluded. I thought we might see her pop-up in future Marvel titles, but I didn’t think a title all her own was warranted. Well, with the release of issue two, I think I know exactly what Marvel and the Lucasfilm Story Group have in mind for Doctor Aphra. If you fancy yourself a Star Wars history buff, whether that be canon or Legends, you may want to start tuning in to Doctor Aphra. SERIOUS, SERIOUS SPOILERS AHEAD…
All you really need to know about the first issue is that Doctor Aphra is revealed to be something more of an archaeologist than a computer scientist. If you want to know what you missed, fellow staff member Jordan wrote a great review of issue one right here. There’s a lot to get cover about this issue, so I’m not going to write too much about Aphra’s recent history concerning Vader. I’m assuming if you are reading this review, you have a good idea of who Aphra is. At the conclusion of the first issue, Doctor Aphra comes face-to-face with her father. As you can see above, Aphra is not very pleased to see him, and we soon learn why.
Buckle up, as we are about to take a trip back in time. Even further back than “A long time ago…”. The Ordu Aspectu is what has driven Aphra’s father to the desperate man we meet. We learn that his obsession over the Ordu Aspectu drove him to abandon Aphra as a child, leaving her an orphan after her mother’s death. The Ordu Aspectu is his life’s obsession, and Aphra rolls her eyes aplenty when she learns what her father is after. What is the Ordu Aspectu? Well, like many important historical groups and events in our own world, this is very much open to interpretation.
According to papa Aphra, the Ordu Aspectu are a benevolent group of Force-users that seek immortality. It’s not clear if they are Jedi that broke off from the Order in this singular pursuit, but the senior Aphra makes his disdain toward the Jedi very clear in his interpretation of the Ordu Aspectu’s fate.
Does that look like a Jedi to you? No, me either. According to elder Aphra, the Jedi showed up to persecute and threaten the Ordu Aspectu. His description involves the Ordu Aspectu resisting violence, despite the wicked Jedi murdering one of them. Because the Ordu Aspectu seem to believe eternity is something that must be achieved and is not simply granted through death, any member of their order lost is the loss of an eternity. The Ordu Aspectu managed to escape. The leader of the Ordu Aspectu, Rur, vanished into eternity. Aphra’s father seeks out the Citadel of Garn and believes that he will awaken the Force if he can find it.
If you think that interpretation sounds a bit naive and off the mark, don’t worry, Doctor Aphra agrees with you. When has anyone trying to singularly achieve immortality through the Force ever found a peaceful method of doing so? Sure, Qui-Gon achieved this, but it was not for the purpose of immortality, it was to join the living Force. Yoda and Obi-Wan, and eventually Anakin, all followed…but they weren’t out to live forever. Trying to cheat the fundamental, universal rule of death sounds a lot like a slippery slope. We’ve seen this before, folks. Aphra’s father is not playing with a full deck, and as the doctor herself points out, the Ordu Aspectu’s story was debated by Jedi and scholars, right down to the grammar. Here’s Aphra’s take on the same conflict.
This version seems to add up a little more in line with what I would expect. Heresy is a dangerous word, in my opinion. In religious and political contexts in our own history, the word has been used to justify torture and mass murder, so my eyebrow raises whenever I see that in text. However, the Ordu Aspectu have captured a large number of Padawans and are torturing them as a means to achieve their eternal living, which fits the bill for heresy in my book. The Ordu Aspectu were not hoping to achieve eternal enlightenment, they were hoping to control eternity itself. Aphra herself, admirer of Darth Vader, recognizes the dangers in awakening this ancient power. Her father convinces her that even if the Ordu Apspectu are as abhorrent as she thinks, there could be a powerful weapon in the Citadel of Garn. I don’t think this is going to end well.
No matter how much of a spoiler junky you are you may want to read the issue yourself before reading any further. We are approaching uncharted waters, canonically speaking, and a planet that has a rich history under the Legends moniker of the Star Wars Universe may be on the precipice of getting a major rewrite. As I stated in the introduction, if you are someone who can’t get enough of the history and lore of the galaxy far, far away, you owe it to your self to start following Doctor Aphra.
This series has the potential to be amazing. Jordan and I (Jelena hasn’t been able to read this yet) were pretty giddy in our email exchanges leading up to this review. The prospect that writer Kieron Gillen and the Lucasfilm Story Group are going to use the Doctor Aphra series as a way of exploring Star Wars history is very exciting. This series could uncover new stories and possibly bridge the vague gap between Legends and canon. I couldn’t be happier with where this series is headed, especially when you get to the last page of issue two.
I’m also loving the art by Kev Walker and colorist Antonio Fabela. The frames of the Padawans being tortured are straight from a horror film. Not that I enjoy that kind of brutality, but Walker and Fabela’s depiction affected me.
If you haven’t gotten it by now, I loved this issue and I’m falling in love with the series. Keeping my fingers crossed that this doesn’t go off the rails the way a few Vader issues did. Doctor Aphra is here!