Doctor Aphra is about to join the War of the Bounty Hunters and she’s bringing the whole gang along! This prelude issue ties up the previous arc and sets the stage for all sorts of trouble the galaxy’s favorite archaeologist will get herself into. She and Sana are finishing up a contract for the galactic oligarch Domina Tagge: procuring an ancient Nihil path engine and more importantly preventing a rival corporation from using it. As usual, Aphra’s made an enemy along the way. The vicious General Vukorah and her Unbroken Clan have arrived to claim the Nihil engine for themselves. SPOILERS AHEAD….
The previous issue left us hanging. Vukorah stormed what should have been a grand unveiling for the De’rruyet Industries. Instead, it’s become a hostage situation. Vukorah seems to be well aware of the Nihil’s path engine and how they used it to terrorize the galaxy in the days of the High Republic. She’s executing hostages individually, hoping to motivate a technician struggling to breakdown the strange device. Someone who might know how looks on.
Aphra is ready to ditch. She’s discovered the Nihil engine is useless, also extremely volatile, and could turn the corporate unveiling into an inferno. Sana urges her to stay, invoking Magna Tolvan, which is a good way to wake up the good person we all know lives inside the doctor. Sana, herself a former love of Aphra, says she’s not going to run while so many will die. Aphra agrees to help, coming up with a plan we aren’t privy too, aside from dispatching Sana to find an escape route.
Typically fearless and disarming, Aphra enters the hostage situation. I love it! Aphra volunteers to fix the engine, claiming only she possesses the knowledge. Vukorah tolerates it, promising she’ll grant Aphra a quick death after she kills the rest of the hostages. In case you haven’t been following along, Vukorah is absolutely ruthless and probably the cruelest villain Aphra’s faced. Writer Alyssa Wong continues a great tradition of despicable villains, with Vukorah succeeding the rotten Ronen Tagge.
Sana is able to find an escape route, as well as take a few hostages out with her. Once outside, she points the way in to the stormtroopers responding to the hostage situation. Sana isn’t really sure what the plan is but she seems to think the bucket heads will provide Aphra some cover from Vukorah. The connection shared between Aphra and Sana provides each of them intuition. Sana likely has a good idea what Aphra’s up to.
Meanwhile, on Canto Bight, Just Lucky and Ariole are reconnecting in their own way. After being ambushed during a simple debt collection, they suspect they’ve been set up . On a tablet, they discover a contract with both of their names. Someone wanted to kill them to send a message to the Sixth Kin, the dubious organization their employer Wen Delphins operates. Both Lucky and Ariole share the concern. The bond between these two also provides an easy rapport when they’re confronted with conflict.
The stormtroopers arrive, just as Aphra admits to herself she can’t get the Nihil path engine operational. Vukorah turns her blaster on the Imperials instead but Aphra can’t run yet. The core is unstable and any crossfire hitting it would cause a cataclysmic explosion. She has to try and power it down or disable the craft.
We’re still learning more about the Nihil and their unique use of hyperspace. If you haven’t read any of the High Republic material, I highly recommend it. This green orb powers the unusable Nihil engine. Aphra stashes it but realizes the engine is still going to blow and there’s nothing she can do. With the core removed, it won’t be as severe. But still…
Aphra ducks for cover just in time. She’s reunited with Sana, who evacuated the hostages before it blew. They’re both grateful for each other’s part in the plan. Vukorah pursues them but Sana turns and blasts her right in the eye. As the pair leaves, a wounded and enraged Vukorah looks on. We’ve definitely not seen the last of Vukorah and I’d expect her to show up later in War of the Bounty Hunters. Aphra and Sana live another day but they don’t realize someone doesn’t consider their work here finished.
Despite Aphra’s assurances the Nihil engine was worthless, Domina Tagge is pissed. She wanted the engine for herself, operable or not. She cocoons Sana in an energy field cutting off her oxygen. Aphra presents Domina with the Nihil core she found. Domina releases Sana, intrigued by the glowing orb. Just as Sana catches her breath, Domina presents them with another job. Her distant cousin, Ebann Drake, who runs the less desirable potrtion of the Tagge Corporation’s interests, is missing. In charge of a smuggling ring, he contacted Domina about an incredible business opportunity he wanted to share and then vanished. She sends them off to the last place he was seen, a luxury space yacht.
Domina has bigger problems on her mind. The corporation has been struggling with espionage and her investigator hasn’t been able to catch all the culprits. The Tagge Corporation isn’t the only one dealing with it. Clearly, this will be connected to War of the Bounty Hunters, so we’ll have to wait and see how it might lead back to the Tagge family.
The Nihil core Aphra gave Domina Tagge was also an insurance policy. Aphra is sure she’s the only one who will be able to use it, making it necessary for Domina to keep them alive. Aphra points out the high profile yacht likely means others will likely be looking for Ebann. They aren’t expecting this job to be easy.
After meeting with Wen Delphins, Lucky and Ariole learn a traitor in the Sixth Kin sold them out. He just so happens to be heading to a meeting with his handler, at an exclusive event I bet is taking place on the same luxury space yacht. The two duos are about to collide and it will be interesting to see if Aphra and Lucky put their differences aside. It wouldn’t be the fist time an enemy of Aphra’s became an ally out of necessity.
Someone else is coming too.
Durge is back. If you haven’t seen Genndy Tartakosky’s Clone Wars I highly recommend it. It will give you an idea of the terror Durge is about to bring down. I expect him to be a formidable player in War of the Bounty Hunters.
Alyssa Wong does a great job of introducing Aphra into this event. I’m excited to see how it will all come together. Ray-Anthony Height, inker Victor Olazoba, and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg bring a unique visual, with washed out purples and pinks, indicative of the nightmarish Durge on the horizon. It’s certainly an ominous ending but the conclusion of a great issue.