The Imperial propaganda machine swarms around Milvayne. Doctor Aphra and Triple Zero continue to run for their lives, searching for the one person who can disarm the explosive devices that keep them tethered to one another. As actors in Dr. Cornelius Evazan’s morbid game they’ve depended on one another but what they didn’t count on was Imperial intervention of this magnitude. Thanks to Evazan’s broadcast of his sick game, the galaxy has been watching this all unfold and the last thing the Empire wants is this tale of survival to inspire hope. SPOILERS AHEAD….
The Empire is not happy about the little show Evazan has been broadcasting across the galaxy. So much so they dispatched their Imperial Propaganda and Misinformation director to intervene. In the previous issue, the Imperial department used it’s blasters to shoot down a ship that had just trapped Aphra and Triple Zero. Now that they’re back in the underbelly of the very martial planet, the Empire will go to work manipulating the narrative. They’ve been able to take control of Evazan’s broadcast and are offering to disarm the explosives implanted in both Aphra and Triple Zero if the doctor will proclaim the Empire’s rule of law has saved them. She must make this proclamation as the Empire broadcasts it to the galaxy, but Aphra has other plans, specifically a seismic pulse charge she’d planted in Triple Zero. This knocks out the Imperials, but not Triple Zero.
Aphra wakes up and three-hours have passed. This is a big deal because if you remember, the doctor and the droid are not only bound to these explosives by proximity but also by time. Aphra’s legs are totally numb from the blast, so like the Imperials who Triple Zero spent hours torturing, she’s at a psychotic droids mercy. The two of them have a bit of a reckoning, Triple Zero having a strange admiration for the failsafe she planted in his head that would’ve wiped out his memory after the bomb keeping them together is disarmed. Triple Zero shares some footage he recovered from the Imperial commander. Tolvan has joined the Reble Alliance and Triple Zero has broadcast it across the galaxy! Seeing this, Aphra is grateful Tolvan is okay but sad that Triple Zero seems to be the only companion left for her. She decides to help the droid accomplish what he originally intended to do – fill in the gaps of his memory by decryptying what’s been stored in the recently deceased astromech Bee Tee.
Well, if you ever wondered what the mind of a psychotic droid looks like, look no further. Evazan looks on as this nightmare is broadcast across the galaxy. It should be noted that not only did the HoloNet viewers witness this horror show, they also witnessed Triple Zero torturing Imperials to get information on Tolvan. Viewer discretion advised. We also learn Evazan is interested in truly understanding what drives evil forces in the galaxy and that’s why he’s trying to get in the mind of this twisted droid. This is a really dark corner of the galaxy and I have to give credit to Simon Spurrier for taking us down this dark rabbit hole. We often associate evil in the galaxy with Force lightning and crimson blades, but Spurrier reminds us it can be much more subtle. This frame of Triple Zero’s victims is chilling. The feed is suddenly interrupted when Triple Zero is knocked out cold.
Winloss and Nokk have caught up to Aphra once again. They debate killing her but decide that the life she lives is punishment enough. Like the rest of the galaxy, Winloss and Nokk have been watching the broadcast through Triple Zero’s feed. They were only ever after her for the way she betrayed them when they first encountered her. Aphra tries to warn them about who they are working for but the hunters depart just as quickly as they appear. Like every character in Doctor Aphra, I don’t think that’s the last we’ve seen of them. As deadly as some of the elements can be in this series, there’s really not a lot of death. Once the hunters are gone, leaving a paralyzed Aphra behind, Triple Zero regains consciousness and the memories Aphra was able to retrieve from the remains of Bee Tee.
Triple Zero has regained all his memories – right back to the moment of creation. His maker was trying to build a ‘normal’ droid but during the creation, all notions of empathy and compassion were erased. This leads Triple Zero to believe he was a mistake because his maker wanted him tossed in a trass compactor. We learn that droids do not share the fluid notion of life that organics do. They want to find a path and a purpose. Aphra tries to console the murderous droid by explaining how we often wander through our existence, struggling to define it. Droids seem to find a path and stick to it. Unfortunately for so many, Triple Zero is only discovering he is not the one intended and that there never was a program for him.
Something snaps in Triple Zero and he decides to walk away. Don’t forget, those explosive devices are still dependent on proximity. Since Aphra can’t use her legs, she watches Triple Zero walk away, pleading with him to stop. Quite a cliffhanger to leave us with.
This is a very unique issue of Doctor Aphra. Triple Zero’s story gives the character much more depth and if he’s going to continue to pop-up in this series I’m glad they have opened the door for him to grow. Aphra really takes a psychological beatdown as she watches murder unfold around her, is left for dead, and feels she’s destined to be alone in the galaxy. I’m very intrigued by Tolvan joining the Rebellion and look forward to seeing the follow-up to that. Some really distinct art from Emilio Laiso and Rachelle Rosenberg. Writer Simon Spurrier continues to take this character to new lows while telling a dynamic, fast-paced story. I love a lot of the characters and themes he’s introduced, especially in this issue. The next issue concludes the “Worst Among Equals” arc and there are a lot of questions still. It should be quite an issue!