Review - Lockdown Accresker Jail In Marvel's Doctor Aphra #20 - Star Wars News Net | Star Wars News Net
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Review – Lockdown Accresker Jail In Marvel’s Doctor Aphra #20

Issue number twenty of Doctor Aphra puts us on the path of what looks to be one helluva a fun arc, “The Catastrophe Con”. In the previous issue, Aphra was to be sent to a doomed fate in an Imperial prison by her once part-time lover Tolvan. I wasn’t really sure if Tolvan did this in hopes Aphra may escape, as Accresker Jail was known as a prison that swallows its inmates. Whatever Tolvan’s intentions, it looks like our favorite doctor is figuring things out on her own, with a few expected bumps in the road. SPOILERS AHEAD….

 

 

Welcome to Accresker Jail. No, it’s not that light-cruiser you see, it’s that cluster of rubble the cruiser is towing. The jail is pieced together by several thousand wrecked ships and the vacuum of space is what keeps the prisoners from escaping. We learn that the high mortality rate the prison is known for is due to their usage of prisoners as expendable soldiers to board enemy ships. The issue opens with Aprha describing an incident that happened a week after she arrived at Accresker Jail. One thing to take note of Aphra’s descriptions – she’s being interrogated and they rightly don’t trust a word she’s saying. Her explanations juxtaposed with what’s really happening give a good dose of that salty Aphra humor.

 

 

Aphra’s still going by her alias Joystick Chevron. We see her and the rest of the prisoner army – ‘penal legion’ – storming a defeated Rebel vessel. We never get a good look at any of the crew, but the visuals provided indicate there are no survivors, especially after the prisoners are done with them. The prisoners are all bound to a hub droid and are wearing explosive implants that will detonate if they are outside a certain proximity or if the hub droid is destroyed. The whole reason Aphra is being interrogated by the Empire in this issue is because her hub droid didn’t survive the conflict (because she sneakily rewired him to explode) and they can’t understand how it’s possible for her to have walked away from that. Aphra always has another trick up her sleeve, and this time, another droid.

 

 

Dek-Nil, whom if you remember was presumably blown to bits, has survived and has come to Aphra’s rescue. There’s no real explanation as to how Dek-Nil came to Accresker Jail, other than he survived the incident at Hivebase-1 and assimilated some droid components, because he’s much different than the repurposed droideka we saw in the “Remastered” arc. Dek-Nil is able to recruit Aphra and her new friend, Lopset, into his unit and prevent their explosive implants from detonating. Dek-Nil is still wacky as ever, but Aphra sees his presence as a potential ally for facilitating her escape.

 

 

These two! Unfortunately, Triple Zero and Beetee survived the Imperial assault on their hideout. The criminal regime they’d taken control of, Son-Tuul, may have been decimated, but these droids are survivors. I wish they weren’t because I am D-O-N-E with their story. They’ve served little purpose as adversaries to Aphra and I’m ready to see her go up against proper villains, not malfunctioning and sadistic torture droids. I guess we’ll all suffer through their presence in this arc, no pun intended. If you recall, the whole reason Aphra ended up in Accresker Jail was due to her failed attempt to free a portion of Triple Zero’s memory from a remote, Imperial archive. That memory didn’t make it back to him and he’s ready to go hunting for Aphra again. Cue my eye-roll, sighing each time they pop-up in this arc.

 

 

So…um, yeah, a Force ghost shows up. Okay, maybe it’s not a Force ghost, but it would appear to be something of the paranormal and metaphysical. Leading up to this arc, Marvel marketing teased this arc with the possibility of Accresker Jail being haunted. Whoever and whatever this is, it certainly seems connected to the Force. Your guess is as good as mine, because that’s about all we see of this full-torso apparition. I wouldn’t expect to get the full reveal in the first issue, so get those fan theories running full speed in your noggin, because we’ll have a while before this is explained. It’s kind of cool to see a ghost used in the spookier sense in Star Wars. They don’t all have to be Jedi Masters or Hayden Christensen. The ghost does serve some immediate purpose, not good for Aphra though. He melts a restraining bolt and short circuits Dek-Nil into thinking he’s an Imperial hub droid. Not only that, but he destroys the escape pod Aphra and Lopset eyed to use in their self-liberation from Accresker Jail.

 

 

We catch up with Aphra as she’s deep under Imperial interrogation. Her interrogators are having trouble getting her to spill an accurate account of what happened and have tried to use a mind probe. No, this isn’t a Kylo Ren mind probe, it sounds much more clinical, like a mechanical truth serum. Funny thing, Aphra’s tattoos are interfering with the interrogator droid’s equipment. I may have missed it in earlier issues, but I think this is the first time Aphra’s tattoos have been given special abilities. Unfortunately, the Imperials aren’t quite as impressed by that as I am, so they propose chopping off her arm to let the droid do it’s work. The officers eventually decide that’s not worth the effort and that Aphra’s value as a prison laborer/soldier outweigh the information they could get from her. Remember, they have no idea who she really is and Chevron Joystick probably just looks like another petty criminal that will be dead in a few weeks like their other prisoners. They send her back into the general population, and for the first time, Aphra is hopeless and without a plan to escape. Now the Imperials will be keeping a close eye on her and it’s doubtful that she’ll get another opportunity.

 

 

Aphra’s made friends with someone who has some skills. Lopset reveals himself to be a capable mechanic. He’s managed to piecemeal a transmitter that can broadcast a single transmission. This is the last chance Aphra may have, but a dilemma for someone who is pretty much a loner. Tolvan’s left her without a lifeline and to her own devices in achieving escape, so that’s not an option. Dad’s not going to pick up, since he’s off hiding sacred, Force-sensitive crystals. She’s made the acquaintance of Luke Skywalker, but it’s not likely she’d know the location of one of the most wanted and elusive Rebels in the galaxy. Han? Leia? No. Who she calls, well, I was surprised as much as I was delighted.

 

 

Sana Starros! Yes, I’d call Sana, as well. Can’t tell you how happy I am to see Sana back in the books. We got her back this week in the excellent Star Wars Annual #4 and I’ve been waiting for her to appear more regularly in these books. She has kind of popped in and out of the titular Marvel Star Wars, but she’s such a great character it’s been a shame she’s been missing lately. That looks like it’s about to change. In case you’ve forgotten, Aphra and Sana have a bit of history involving prisons. They fought their way out of Sunspot Prison – along with Leia – but didn’t exactly end on good terms. I’m guessing this is fresh in Aphra’s memory as she reaches out to Sana to help with her new incarceration predicament. These two together will have me looking forward to future issues. More Sana!

 

Solid issue, and the first solo issue for writer Si Spurrier, who took the helm for Aphra creator Kieron Gillen. Aside from the sadist droids, I had a lot of fun reading this. Aphra is in fine form, though it’s cool to see the stakes are affecting her much more than they usually do. Towards the end of the issue she genuinely seems nervous she could be stuck in Accresker Jail. It must be humbling to reach out to a former, quasi-adversary like Sana, and I’m intrigued to see what compels Sana to assist Aphra. Like I said earlier, lots to look forward to in this new arc. A new team of artists have also taken the helm and I’m loving what I see so far from Kev Walker, inker Marc Deering, and colorist Java Tartaglia. Accresker Jail is especially cool and I hope this new team take us deep. Stay tuned, as there are certainly good things yet to come in the Doctor Aphra series.

 

RATING: 7/10

 

 

 

 

Kyle Larson lives in Portland, Oregon. When he’s not running trails, he’s reading and writing.

 

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