Doctor Aphra #21: Desperate Measures
The Spark Eternal turned out to be more than just a piece of Ascendant tech as it takes control of Doctor Aphra. Kho Phon Farrus and Sana Starros must watch helplessly as Aphra is transformed into a new being capable of immense power. Meanwhile Domina Tagge awaits news from the tomb raiders.
To say that this series has been almost entirely about finding artifacts is an understatement. It should be about that. Aphra is an archeologist after all. That was something the former series and her misadventures in the “Darth Vader” series were lacking in. Sometimes the focus on Aphra pilfering rarities from yet another cave in this series got a bit monotonous at times. In this latest story arc, the artifacts in question are just too neat to ignore. Ascendant tech gives their users some approximation of Sith powers, like gloves that levitate metal items magnetically or items to control one’s mind. However those kind of devices come with a dark price, and it became time for Aphra to pay. As the Spark Eternal takes control, it leaves Aphra to watch as it toys with her comrades. This is very unusual for Aphra. No matter what tight spots she has gotten into, she’s had a plan and maintained some type of control. This time, she has no options and no plans. She cannot talk. She can not move. She is a prisoner in her own body. She is helpless. In a way she has been effectively taken out of her own series, leading this series into new unexplored territory.
As far as narrative goes, its actually kind of nice to have Aphra occupied for a change. She often overshadows her friends, demanding the spotlight for herself. The only thing readers get from her here is just a little bit of inner thought before the Spark gets tired of hearing her and silences her. The rest of the issue is all Spark. This gives Sana Starros a little time to shine. With her partner essentially out of the picture, she must decide if she is able to hurt Aphra at all. Sana is a strong character, who is usually following Aphra’s plans in this series as sort of a sidekick and possible love interest for Aphra. Well before this series she was an independent character trying to shrug off the betrayals of her former girlfriend. She was an accomplished smuggler who was sometimes ally and sometimes an enemy. She certainly had an adversarial relationship with Doctor Aphra in her previous series. This issue gives her a change to be that character again, but in Aphra’s deffence. She jumps right into danger, takes charge, and lives to fight another day. Since Aphra is out of commission for the time being, Sana is bound to be a focus on at least the next issue.
This issue bring back the character Just Lucky in a separate story thread and it is hard to really say if it hurt or helped this issue. Just lucky is a bit of a dud of a character, although he did get a lot more interesting a few months back. He returns to try and enlist help to join Crimson Dawn. This part of the issue is completely disconnected, and even though it is the same art, the colors, settings and characters are such a sudden shift from Aphra’s part of the issue that it’s a bit off-putting. It does show an artistic versatility as well and very good use of separate color schemes though. There is even a follow up scene with Domina Tagge that seems to have it’s own color scheme as well. The problem simply lies with the character. The last time he had his own side storyline it took a very long time for it to intersect with Aphra’s storyline, which made it feel pointless up until it mattered. Hopefully Just Lucky will find his way to Sana and Aphra’s story faster.
Sana has begun to create a team of beings from Aphra’s past to help her try and free her friend from the Spark Eternal’s grip. But how well can a rescue team be expected to perform when Aphra has betrayed each one personally?
Doctor Aphra #21: There Is No Aphra, Only Zuul.
- Writing - 7/107/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 8/108/10
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