Review – The Dark Side Stirs the Galaxy’s Underworld in Marvel’s Doctor Aphra #16

Once again, the galaxy’s favorite archaeologist is out of the frying pan and into the fire with this sixteenth issue of Doctor Aphra. Having survived a Sith Lord and warring bounty hunters, Aphra and Sana return to Domina Tagge with hopes they’ve satisfied the ruthless baron. Aphra’s encounter with a dark side relic in Crimson Dawn’s possession may launch a new chase to capture its secrets. And assassin Just Lucky considers his allegiances after confronting an old friend. SPOILERS AHEAD….



Domina Tagge is not happy. After learning Crimson Dawn has spies everywhere, she confronts one of the more obvious and figures it to be a direct insult from Qi’ra. When the spy is discovered, they try and kill Domina and she’s only too happy to handle security herself. I’m so happy we are getting back to this character. Domina Tagge seems like a great foil not only for Aphra, but ever increasing presence of Qi’ra and Crimson Dawn.



Meanwhile, Aphra’s circuitry tattoos are under repair after suffering heavy damage from the mysterious Ascendant artifact. Aphra realizes there’s only one person who can help with the complicated repairs – Domina Tagge. Realizing the leverage she has with the procured data-chip necklace from Crimson Dawn, she and Sana head back to see what they can get from the wealthy heir. Sana urges caution but Aphra reminds her the elite of the galaxy far, far away are going to do what they want regardless. They might as well see what benefits they can get out of it.



Just Lucky has some things to say to Wen Delphins back on Canto Bight. He wants to know where his brother is and informs Wen he’s fulfilled his mission to kill their former mentor. Sounds like his former partner and love, Ariole, has been telling Wen a different story. Their fate was left uncertain at the end of the previous issue, both of them abandoned by Aphra and Sana, left at Qi’ra’s mercy. While we assumed their fate to be a deadly one, it appears Qi’ra had other plans.



After discovering they didn’t kill their mentor, he was only waiting to finish them, Qi’ra intervenes and figures these two can be more useful. How? By feeding Wen Delphins and the Sixth Kin syndicate misinformation. It’s not made clear exactly what Qi’ra has planned, but these two will be a part of it. Now, I love Qi’ra and I’m thrilled her story will continue, but I hope all the ongoing Star Wars titles set in this era don’t tie back to Qi’ra. We know Darth Vader and Crimson Empire will have direct parallels, so I’m hoping that’s enough for the story group. Let Doctor Aphra be its own title because that’s when it shines. *end rant*



Domina Tagge is quite pleased with the information gathered by Aphra and Sana. Her interest turns to flushing more spies from her ranks and to the possibility of acquiring more artifacts from the Ascendant. Despite Aphra’s own experience and warnings, Tagge offers a circuitry tattoo upgrade and Aphra can’t resist.



Aphra has some great new upgrades, able to stop thermal detonators and probe droids. She’s ready to test them out, as she and Sana make their way to Coruscant. It’s a cool way for writer Alyssa Wong to give us Aphra 2.0 (of maybe Aphra 1.75), enabling her to throw new obstacles in Aphra’s way or new last minute escape solutions. I’m excited to see what these possibilities bring us.



Well, it appears someone got to the thought dowser artifact before Aphra and Sana. Several someones, who met with an unpleasant fate. Aphra hoped this warehouse of a former museum curator would offer up more information about Ascendant artifacts. It turns out she wasn’t the only one who came looking.



A mysterious, hooded figure, holding a lightsaber, finds Aphra and Sana. And this person knows Aphra. My first guess was Sheev but when I examined the gloved hand closer (not pictured)…this is Magna Tolvan. I would bet money on it! The hand is almost identical, and I’m guessing she arrived and picked up the lightsaber just before Aphra and Sana arrived. We won’t know for sure until the next issue but I’d say it’s great timing to bring Magna back into the mix. She and Sana are Aphra’s great loves and the messier things get the better the story for Doctor Aphra, in my opinion. Also, there’s a lot unresolved between Aphra and Tolvan I’d really like to see addressed.



It looks like things are about to get a lot more complicated for the Tagge family as well. At the end of the issue, Just Lucky discovers a re-animated Ronen Tagge, the nastiest of the Tagge heirs, and it’s likely he’s going to want a word with Domina. Looks like the power struggle of the Tagge Corporation will be another backdrop to Doctor Aphra. I really didn’t care for Ronen and he wasn’t an especially interesting villain to me, so here’s hoping Wong will spice things up with the second version.


Though this issue spent a great deal of time wrapping up the previous threads of the arc, I enjoyed the new storylines it introduced. The art by Minkyu Jung is fantastic, as always. I have complete faith in writer Alyssa Wong. Her love of these characters is continually demonstrated with each issue. I’ve no doubt she’s setting up a great arc and lots of the usual twists and turns the galaxy’s best archaeologist often finds herself in. And please, please… bring back Magna Tolvan. Keeping my fingers crossed until the next issue!


RATING: 6/10



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Kyle Larson lives in Portland, Oregon. When he's not running trails, he's reading and writing.

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson lives in Portland, Oregon. When he's not running trails, he's reading and writing.