Review – The Galaxy Is Tuned In For Marvel’s Doctor Aphra #31
Doctor Aphra and Triple Zero seem to have reached the end of their journey. With the detonators armed, Triple Zero is in the midst of an existential crisis (seems to be common among droids) as he walked away and prepares to cross the threshold that’s kept the bombs from destroying them both. As the galaxy watches, the Empire must decide what kind of spin they are going to put on tragic heroism. The conclusion of “Worst Among Equals” is a wonderful, hot mess of an issue! SPOILERS AHEAD….
Oh good, Beetee is alive. Smack my head, I guess I should have never count that psychotic astromech droid out. Just as Triple Zero approached the literal deadline of distance between them, Aphra was able to reactivate Beetee. Triple Zero snaps right back into his awful self with the reemergence of his sidekick. Aphra is able to move again, after being stunned by an ion blast in the previous issue, so she’ll be able to keep some proximity between herself and Triple Zero.
The audience of the martial planet Milvayne play an integral part in this issue and it’s a lot of fun to watch. There are some very similar vibes to Hunger Games, as these folks seem to be well aware of the harsh justice system they live under in an even harsher, authoritarian grip of the galaxy. They see their hopes rise and fall with Aphra and Triple Zero. For now, their heroes have survived and their chances for walking out of this charade alive still exist. The human draw to storytelling, whether it’s presented reality or evening dramas, allures these people who have been fed propaganda for however many years since the Empire came into control. It’s a very interesting subplot by writer Simon Spurrier. Dr. Evazan and the Imperial propaganda overlords are not as keen on the hopeful display beginning to play out.
Look who came back: Vulaada! She went missing a few issues ago, double-crossing Aphra but quickly regretting it. She needed food and Aphra understands. Aphra’s forced to use Triple Zero as a crutch, slung on his back as the droid explains to Vulaada that Aphra doesn’t have the moral fiber she may think she does. Vulaada decides to help them get to the specialist capable of disarming the proximity explosives. As they hop on her qaberworm, the crowd’s warm feelings begin to turn into more subversive thoughts.
While making their way through the dense cityscape of Milvayne, a new narrator takes over the story, someone of an Imperial disposition. The Empire is trying to stop them but also has their finger on the pulse of how the public will react. At this point, they’ve managed to contain the broadcast to the planet only, but they are concerned about Milvayne as an experiment. There’s really not a more model Imperial world than Milvayne, with it’s brutal justice system and totalitarian law, so if the population there can be as receptive, it’s gotta worry the Empire. The issue goes from Aphra and Triple Zero’s point of view, more towards how an objective, Imperial officer would see it. Some stormtroopers try to stop them, but Beetee does his thing!
The observer notes that a contained rebellion being crushed on public display may be worth it, so she’s not apt to order more stormtroopers there at the moment. She wants to build the anticipation, see if Aphra and Triple Zero’s story will be a catalyst to an uprising, and then move in to squash it. Typical Imperial move, cold and sadistic. An unexpected thing happens, the hookspore possessed Tam Posla has returned, firing his blaster at Vulaada. Now, this audience seems to be on the fence, but one thing that could swing the pendulum to full planetary uprising is a child executed on live television by their oppressors. We don’t get to see, as the issue suddenly moves to Coruscant.
Meet our new, not-so-humble narrator Minister Pitina Voor, who is monitoring the situation. She’s actually watching this play out after the events occurred, preparing to make a report to her superiors about how to spin what happened. The Empire is mighty, but like all corrupt governments, as soon as they lose control of public opinion through manipulation, they’ve lost. Voor is determined to make Aphra’s story and the uprising it caused a win for the Empire somehow. Honestly, I’m surprised Vader hasn’t shown up at this point.
I’ve always been rooting for Aphra to find her heroism and here she did. She threw herself in front of the blast to protect Vulaada, which pushed everyone at home off their couches and into the streets. The frames above show a massive uprising in Milvayne. The population is so overcome with emotion it eventually leads to a complete revolt, overthrowing the corrupt government and the Imperial presence. We only get glimpses of it but it looks like it was one heck of a revolution. Voor recommends blaming the rise on rebel extremists and suggesting the local law enforcement was ineffective from the beginning.
Meanwhile, Winloss and Nokk decided to go after Dr. Evazan and have put an end to his broadcast. They’ve also deactivated the bombs because Dr. Evazan wasn’t planning on paying them for their work in finding Aphra. They’d decided to go after the specialist, Professor Prexo, to lure Aphra. They were afraid they were being set-up and it appears they were right. Evazan planned on killing them, as well, so they cut the broadcast and that’s it for the evil doctor’s sick game.
Triple Zero resists the urge to kill Aphra but leaves her to die. I have to think Triple Zero believes she’ll survive somehow, but he’s decided an Aphra-free life is in his future and won’t decide her fate, either way. Voor is extremely disappointed that Triple Zero’s mercy is the last thing Milvayne saw on the broadcast. She notes that Aphra’s actions, her morality, and the sacrifice she made moved a whole world to take up arms against the Empire and their agents. The Empire has already dispatched reinforcements to carry out strategic bombardments, so I don’t think this uprising is going to have the lasting local effect, but those around the galaxy who’ve heard about what happened no doubt have a seed planted. If the destruction of the Death Star wasn’t a loud enough message the Empire could be taken on, this will add to the chinks in the Imperial armor. Voor prepares to report to her superior.
Palpatine! It turns out Voor is one of those creepy advisors we saw huddled around the Emperor in Return of the Jedi. I’d love to hear what old Sheev thinks about the uprising but unfortunately this is all we get. A big implication for Aphra going forward though: She’s on the Emperor’s radar now. I doubt he knew anything about her before this and I wonder what he’d do if he found out she’d once worked with his apprentice. Hmm….
The end?!? For Aphra?!? Nah…but I am very curious to see how Vulaada gets her out of this mess and what the future holds for the doctor. I love that she not only found that morality but that it spread across an oppressed planet as a beacon of hope.
What a wild issue but I had so much fun reading it! Writer Simon Spurrier took a huge leap with Aphra and I’m so happy for the payoff of this arc in the final issue. The art by Emilio Laiso, Andrea Broccardo, and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg is at its best in this issue. It took a lot for me to shift my opinion on Triple Zero and for as much as I complained about the murderous protocol droid, I hope we get him back in the next issue. Eegats! Whatsa meesa saying?!?