Domina Tagge gets what she wants, and that’s made Doctor Aphra’s life very difficult. The best archaeologist in the galaxy far, far away continues her pursuit of the ancient, dark side artifact created by the lost cult, Ascendant. At each turn, her former friend and classmate Kho Phon Farrus has been there with a quest of their own: become a Sith Lord. Now, along with Sana Starros, Doctor Aphra has returned to her alma mater, the University of Bar’leth, to face a grave power few understand. SPOILERS AHEAD….
Writer Alyssa Wong continues to show us why the Ascendant captures so much attention from folks in high places. The Ascendant cult were a close ally to the Sith in distilling the power of the dark side into a technological mechanism. In this flashback, Professor Nos reminds her students why she’s the chair of the occult department.
Kho isn’t happy with Chelli after her little prank to get inside their instructor’s office. Though Kho is still angry about near expulsion, they’ve developed a taste for danger, and Chelli promises many future opportunities. Little do either of them know this taste for trouble will lead them back here, decades later, to face the dreaded Ascendant.
Back to the present, Kho realizes they’ve unwittingly helped their old professor. With Aphra and Sana not far behind, Nos is confident she’ll have enough blood present to release the Spark Eternal. I get the sense Nos has been bluffing and has no idea what’s going to happen. Just a guess. The Sith were masters of obfuscation and lies, Nos is playing with power she doesn’t understand. Aphra and Kho only drive this dangerous game further.
Sana and Aphra are identified, and all hell breaks loose. Once blaster bolts start flying, Aphra reminds everyone they’re in a metallic chamber, and the bolts ricochet in a death fury toward everyone. Once they’ve burnt out, Kho decides to get a little closer to Aphra.
Kho uses their magnetic gloves to bring Aphra to the altar, where the sacrifice of blood from three different people will unleash the Spark Eternal. When Aphra breaks free, the punches they throw provide enough blood to the altar. Their former teacher looks on excitedly as she trades shots with Aphra. They aren’t only trading physical blows, Kho reminds Aphra of the betrayal and letdown they felt as her friend. Just when Kho brings out the thought dowser, Sana turns the magnetic appendages on them.
Sana pins Kho down, but it’s too late for all of them. Nos drops her blood into the altar, awakening whatever evil power was dormant. Aphra is transfixed by the power and doesn’t hesitate to embrace the awakening, hoping to claim the power for herself.
The Spark Eternal emerges and blasts a hole right through Aphra’s chest. It quickly retreats, and Aphra realizes she’s made a mistake – and she’s dying. There aren’t even a few breaths remaining before Doctor Aphra dies, with Sana running to help her. This isn’t the end, though.
Nos is delighted as Aphra reanimates, controlled by the Spark Eternal, calling herself the Eternity. It’s not the first time Aphra’s been overtaken by a dark side power, but this is going to be a problem. It’s all up to Sana now, but something tells me both Voh and Nos will be there to help since the Eternity will likely be a problem for them all.
Not a lot happening in this issue until the end. Though the art by Minkyu Jung and Rachelle Rosenberg shines, this issue feels a bit redundant. Unfortunately, I feel Doctor Aphra is constrained by this Crimson Reign event. This is where Star Wars connectivity sometimes feels forced. This story would move along much better if it wasn’t tethered to the event. I’ve got faith writer Alyssa Wong will steer us back. Honestly, I’d like to see Aphra out in the galaxy working for herself rather than Sith Lords or syndicate bosses. Maybe a galaxy like that doesn’t exist yet for our hero. Or maybe that’s where this is all leading.