The final arc in the ongoing Doctor Aphra series continues this week in issue #38, “A Rogue’s End: Part II”. Granted, the impact of the final story arc and its ominous title are slightly undercut by the recent announcement of the series relaunch next April, so we know Aphra will survive the finale. However, over the course of the near forty-issue run of the series so far, I have rarely been disappointed. So I still have high hopes for how Spurrier and Wijngaard will bring their tale to a close, and if this issue is any indication, we’re looking at an exciting final stretch to cap off what has been an overall fantastic run. Spoilers ahead…
Recent events have led the rogue archaeologist, Chelli Aphra, back in the employ of her ex-boss and Sith lord, Darth Vader, as he searches for the new rebel base. Vader’s need of archaeological expertise to track down the rebels from one temporary base to another has unfortunately also brought another Doctor Aphra into the fold, Chelli’s own father, Korin.
Perhaps even more unfortunate, is the revelation that the Empire is also now in control of a new pair of droid interrogators that they picked up on the Ring of Kafrene after the droids had parted ways with Aphra a short while back. They have since been memory wiped and are now set to violently extract information from Korin about his recent encounter with the rebels in a Force shrine on an asteroid near Karga.
Thankfully, despite is disdain for the evil Empire, Korin has no love for the rebels either, since they bounce around the galaxy from one temple ruin to another with no regard for the sites’ historical significance or archaeological importance. He tells Vader what he wants to know before Triple-Zero has a chance to draw the first drop of blood, much to his dismay.
Vader then takes the two doctors with him to the shrine, in hopes of finding clues about where the rebels might be heading next. On the floor, Chelli Aphra discovers some jootoo seeds, leading her to believe that the rebels were heading somewhere cold, given that the seeds provide warmth when consumed. While the doctors continue to search for clues, Vader enters the shrine alone, searching for clues of his own.
But when the Force throws visions of Anakin Skywalker’s loved ones in his mind’s eye through the altar, he quickly destroys it and declares that though the ghosts might have once troubled the “lost boy”, he was that boy no longer. He criticizes the fools that would have prayed to the now-broken altar for aeons for what they could not take, a mistake that he would not be repeating.
Curiously, Aphra overheard Vader’s comment about the lost boy, but before she can ponder the implications of his words, Vader informs the assassin droid, Beetee, that he only needs one Doctor Aphra from now on, and to take only the trip back to decide which one to keep and which to discard. He has also seen all he needed to see. The rebels were no longer there, and all evidence of their presence was about to be wiped away as the dark lord orders the destruction of the shrine.
Alone on board an Imperial shuttle in the face of their soon-to-be executioner, Chelli and her father share their last words with each other. Korin contemplates his regrets and ultimately encourages Aphra that even though she had made many mistakes, she had never stopped feeling or living her own life. He tells her that he is proud of her just before stepping in between her and the droid, telling the executioner to go ahead and do it.
But before Beetee can take his shot, Tolvan’s rebel strike team captures their shuttle and forces their way onto the ship. Aphra used the distraction to hide, but when Tolvan sees the unconscious body of her father, she knows that the intel was correct. Aphra was somewhere on the ship, and they would find her…and kill her.
The doctor definitely has a lot to look forward to, whether good or bad, in the final few issues ahead. Tolvan’s out for blood, but I’m sure things will cool down a little once she finally lays her eyes on the girl who both loved and betrayed her. She’s angry at the moment, and for good reason, but we’ve been here before with the two of them, so I’m sure things will work out in the end. Maybe Aphra will finally stop running and embrace what the two of them had once had. Perhaps Tolvan can forgive and move forward, or at least move on. Time will tell.
There’s also the issue of Aphra’s new sidekick of sorts, Vulaada, whom she left behind for her own safety in the last issue. She didn’t leave her without explanation though, as the holo she left behind explained to the girl why Aphra had split without her. But if the cover of issue #40 is anything to go by, the young girl will set out to find her mentor, realizing what Aphra herself doesn’t, that they need each other. The rogue life can only last so long.
Eventually, Aphra will need to realize that she has to start letting others into her life. She has so much to contribute if she would only let go of her hangups and allow herself some measure of happiness. I’ve enjoyed her moral ambiguity in this series, but I hope that in the next series, Aphra will have a more solid moral foundation, as I think it’s time for the character to establish where she stands in the bigger picture.
Issue #38 was a solid entry in the series that served up a healthy dose of closure between Aphra and her father, as well as setting up her impending reunion with Tolvan. Beetee and Triple-Zero are back in the picture, and with the Rebels now in possession of Aphra’s shuttle, Vader’s shadow no longer weighs so heavily on her. The current situation is tense, but things seem to be looking up for Chelli Lona Aphra. Still, the quesiton remains: when all is said and done, where will she end up? Will she join Tolvan and the rebels? Or will she and Vulaada set out on their own adventures together, far from the reaches of the Galactic Civil War?
I really don’t thing that she’ll end up alone, regardless of which path she chooses, as I tend to believe that the title “A Rogue’s End” refers to her leaving her old life behind for a much brighter future. Spurrier (like Gillen before him) has taken us on an incredible journey in this comic, and I am very much looking forward to what the future holds.
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #38 is available now in a comic shop near you or online at Comixology. Happy reading Star Wars comic fans!