Review – A Tense New Union Forms in Marvel’s Doctor Aphra #14
It’s no surprise Chelli Lona Aphra and Sana Starros found themselves right in the middle of the War of the Bounty Hunters. As drawn out and unnecessary as the event has become (in my humble opinion), writer Alyssa Wong has done a great job of keeping Aphra’s story fairly contained and relevant to the characters. While she and Sana find their bearings in the brig of Crimson Dawn’s flagship, another tenuous pair might be the allies they’ll need to finish Domina Tagge’s task and escape to safety. SPOILERS AHEAD….
When we last saw Aphra and Sana, they were about to finish the job of stealing an elegant necklace plated with precious data chips that Lady Domina Tagge wanted. That didn’t quite work out, and they found themselves in the brig of the Vermillion. Another pair of former lovers, Just Lucky and Ariole Yu, find themselves in the same predicament after nearly besting their former mentor only to be taken down by a mysterious assassin. Now, the four of them must figure out how to escape this seemingly escape-proof jail, with a horde of dated sentinel droids standing guard and explosive bracelets on their wrists. The bracelets will detonate if they leave the ship, so even if they get out of the cell, they’ll have a bigger problem to deal with. When Aphra and Lucky last met, things weren’t great, with her being left under the rubble of haunted ruins. Nevertheless, they are able to put their differences aside in the common interest of breaking free. They formulate a plan, in which the first step is Sana and Aphra beating the crap out of Lucky and Ariole to get the guard’s attention.
Gallin, the old mentor and instructor of both Lucky and Ariole, is the guard who responds. We learn he’s offered both of them a place in Crimson Dawn. Lucky is considering it, no doubt thinking of the safety of his troubled brother Pak, while Ariole remains steadfast in his loyalty to Wen Delphins and the Sixth Kin. When Aphra and Sana get even more violent, just as Gallin begins to leave, he returns and opens the cell to intervene. Aphra’s been assessing the sentinel droids, outdated and easy to slice, so she makes her way to the nearest one, ripping out it’s circuit board and getting to work while Lucky and Ariole keep Gallin busy. I love the pacing of this issue and the classic Aphra improvisation to get herself and Sana out of trouble by using her technical skills.
Despite Gallin trying to use Ariole as a human shield, Aphra stuns him, and the four of them get loose. Aphra needs that necklace and has detected the same past romantic tension exists between Lucky and Ariole, just as it does for her and Sana. After learning the four of them are stronger together, they make their way to the armory of the Vermillion.
If you haven’t noticed, the art is much different than in previous issues. Artist Federico Sabbatini temporarily takes over for regular artist Minkyu Jung, with colorist Rachelle Rosenberg staying on. It’s a nice little change, albeit a temporary one. I always enjoy different artists’ interpretations of these characters, and I’m glad Sabbatini didn’t just try and mimic Jung’s work. Once our quartet is armed and ready to go, they waste no time making their way into the vaults of the Vermillion. It’s going to take them a while, but they don’t mind doing as much damage as they can as they scour the ship. When they finally reach the gallery where the necklace is stored, they find it’s in the hands of someone who won’t let it go easily.
While Qi’ra has a lot going on, she knows the value of the necklace. Because there is still a Sith Lord aboard, not to mention every crime lord who wants their pound of flesh from Han, Qi’ra doesn’t spend too much time worrying about this. She has a party to get back to and places this safely in a display case, returning to the party, unaware of Doctor Aphra eagerly waiting in the wings. Just as they’re about to pounce on the necklace, an unexpected adversary returns.
Really curious to find out who this person is and what their role is in Crimson Dawn. I hope this is a preview of what’s to come, and maybe this is Qi’ra’s protege, just as she was once Dryden Vos’ (and I’m assuming Darth Maul’s). It looks like the four of them will have to get through this mysterious figure before they can get their hands on the necklace. Next month, War of the Bounty Hunters concludes, and Aphra’s part in it will be wrapped up. Here’s hoping we get some answers.
Writer Alyssa Wong did a great job of bringing everything I love about Aphra together, while also pairing her and Sana with Lucky and Ariole. We’ve all seen this coming for a while now, but Wong pulled it off seamlessly, adding the right amount of humor and believability. The pace of this chase through the bowels of the Vermillion allows us to focus on Aphra while the bigger (and bloated) events of War of the Bounty Hunters unfold in the party above. Doctor Aphra has been a breath of fresh air, as the other comic series have become bogged down in an event which has gone on far too long. We’ve got one more month ahead of us.