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‘Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #40’ (review)

Written by Si Spurrier
by Caspar Wijngaard
Published by Marvel Comics


Marvel is wrapping up their current run of Star Wars comic book titles and will start anew in January.

Everything that spun off from the mainline book in 2015 occurred between the Battle of Yavin to the discovery of Hoth.

Well, Hoth has been discovered, and it’s all Doctor Aphra’s fault.

She gave Darth Vader the location in hopes that the Dark Lord would spare her life. Of course, Vader is always altering the deal. Si Spurrier’s script is part master plan, and part confessional as Aphra doesn’t expect to survive.

Various creators have discussed how careful they must be when using Darth Vader in their stories. Especially when it comes to the subject of someone defeating him, such a plot point has to be crafted in a way where it won’t dilute Vader’s ominous aura. It sounds like an impossible task that no one has tackled in the Disney canon. 

Si Spurrier unlocked the secret as Aphra one-ups Vader, in a manner that no one will see coming. The methodology is derived from Aphra’s vast knowledge as an archeologist and penchant for guile to spring the ultimate trap. The shock of Vader taking a loss is not only surprising, but it also ties up some narrative loose ends.

Remember, at the beginning of Empire, when Vader wouldn’t tolerate Admiral Ozzel’s insistence that Hoth was just an unproven lead? Now we know it’s all thanks to the good doctor.

How Vader was defeated will not only bring more excitement to the new Doctor Aphra series slated for April 2020, it will also change the dynamic of the Vader/Aphra relationship.

Before, Vader kept Aphra alive because she was useful and knew he could kill her whenever he wanted. Now, he will be out for blood like never before, which raises the stakes going forward. Aphra’s biggest fears were Vader, dying, and being killed by Vader. The outcome of their climatic encounter was Aphra’s awakening, where she recognized her rogue lifestyle would inevitably lead to her death. The comfort she found in that realization broke the relentless cycle of fear that Vader had over her.

Si Spurrier deserves a big gold medal on the steps of Yavin for how he concluded this series by making it true to the titular character while enhancing familiar story elements. 

Rating: A


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