Doctor Aphra #10 Review

by Dennis Keithly

Doctor Aphra selects a buyer for the Rur crystal in Doctor Aphra #10.

This article contains plot details for Doctor Aphra #10.

Doctor Aphra #10 Cover

Doctor Aphra #9

Writer: Kieron Gillen | Peniclier: Kev Walker | Inks: Marc Deering | Colors: Antonio Fabela | Cover Artist: Kamome Shirahama | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Assistant Editor: Heather Antos | Editor: Jordan D. White

Aphra Gets Down to Business in Doctor Aphra #10

In the previous issue, Aphra devised a method for containing the technopathic essence of Rur. Once that was one, she began an auction of the crystal to the galaxy’s criminal element. Her goal was to get rich. In Doctor Aphra  #10, Aphra the interview of the prospective buyers. Once she determined the right purchaser, she prepared to transfer the crystal. However, Triple Zero and BT-1 seemingly betrayed Aphra and sabotaged Rur. As the issue concludes, Rur breaks free and begins an attack on Aphra and the assembled bidders.

Although an interesting tale that promises more action in future issues, the most notable aspect of Doctor Aphra #10 is the insight it provides into Aphra’s motivations and values particularly in the realm of academics.

Aphra’s Curious Choice

Interestingly, after considering all the offers for the crystal, Aphra accepted a smaller offer from the Shadow University. The precise nature of the Shadow University is unclear. Plus, why she chose their offer is a bit of mystery worth considering. Initially, the Shadow University submitted a low-ball offer. That didn’t stop Aphra from considering them though.

Even after the Shadow University increased their offer, it was still only a third of the pure monetary value of the high bid. However, the Shadow University threatened Aphra with exposure of her academic dishonesty in acquiring her doctorate. In response, she reminded them she only cared about credits.

So, did the threat do the trick? Or, was there another motivation for Aphra’s choice? Aphra had additional motivations for choosing the Shadow University including academic inquiry and unfavorable alternatives.

Doctor Aphra #10 - Triple Zero and Aphra

Academic Integrity

Although Aphra’s motivations are often suspect, she does possess an academic curiosity. Even though she cheated when earning her doctorate, she didn’t begin her pursuit of academic credentials, not as far as readers know, dishonestly. She acquired an undergraduate degree and then began her doctoral studies at the University of Bar’leth. Furthermore, she suffered from academic misfortune. While working on her doctoral thesis, she believed she located evidence of an underground civilization. However, it turned out to be nothing more than an old underground shed.

In addition to academic misfortune, Aphra also had a vindictive adviser at the University. The sole reason he took Aphra on as a doctoral student was to prevent her from acquiring her doctorate. His justification was simply because he hated her. Aphra turned on him, stole his research, and presented it to earn her doctorate after her earlier setbacks.

Therefore, it appears Aphra always had this dark side in her. However, consider this: she initially protested her advisor’s project. He studied the Abersyn Symbiotes, which readers just learned about in detail during The Screaming Citadel crossover event. She demanded the destruction of the symbiotes. In fact, once exposing the symbiotes, she had them rendered inert. She isn’t all bad. If all she cared for was money and fame, then academia seems like a lousy way to get there. The Shadow University offered her continued access to the Rur crystal and their archives in addition to maintaining her doctorate. Those elements of her bid cannot be dismissed.

Doctor Aphra #10 - Aphra warns the bidders

Unfavorable Alternatives

Prior to finalizing the sale of the crystal, Aphra interviewed each prospective buyer at the auction. The first bidder was Toov. An elderly man and encapsulated in machinery, Toov offered Aphra the most money. However, his motivation was twofold: immortality and profit. In the short term, he sought extension of his life. In the long term, Toov planned on profiting from selling immortality to others. Despite the promise of riches and immortality, Aphra declined his offer.

The next offer came from a partnership of Sutha the Hutt and Yonak, a Rodian. They simply offered cash. Both were gangsters, and neither presented Aphra with a detestable reason, other than their identity, to decline their offer. By inference, their combined offer at least nearly equaled or exceeded Toov’s offer. They too lost to the Shadow University.

Up next was the Cyban Front representing various droid factions. They view Rur as a threat to the autonomy of droids everywhere. They offered Aphra cash considerations and debt relief. Even then Aphra protests that there is much to learn from Rur. However, the Cyban Front isn’t willing to risk it.

The Ezaraa Dominion comes next. They proclaim their destiny to rule the galaxy. Then they offer Aphra a minor fraction of future Imperial revenue for Aphra and ten generations of descendants. After checking the size of the Dominion with Triple Zero, Aphra remarks upon their stupidity.

The final offer arrives from Papa Toren and the Xonti Brothers. They propose a partnership with Aphra in which Rur acts as a gladiator and they split the profits. Unfortunately, the Xonti are responsible for Krrsantan’s past torments. Aphra is forced to knock out Krrsantan before he can kill the Xonti. However, she promises him he can have his revenge later.

Doctor Aphra #10 - Aphra and Krrsantan

The Decision and Fun with Aurabesh

At the conclusion of the interviews, Aphra informs Triple Zero she made her decision. They then distribute devices to each bidder. Using the devices, Aphra informs each bidder whether they won or not all at once. Sutha, Toov, and the Xonti each receive a “no.” However, the Ezaraa receive a different message. If one translates the aurabesh, it reads, “Hell no.” That was a nice touch and keeps within Aphra’s character. Aphra simultaneously informs the Shadow University they are the winners.

In the end, Aphra’s decision says something about her. She rejected a sizable cash bid from Sutha and Yonak. Also, she rejected cash plus potential immortality from Toov. The Xonti’s bid was for long term profit, but Aphra rejected it presumably in some part out of loyalty to Krrsantan or distaste for the gladiator school. The Ezaraa were too crazy for serious consideration. Plus, Aphra met their lunacy in The Screaming Citadel #1. The Cyban Front was notably absent.

Aphra settled for a smaller offer that came with academic credentials and access. Perhaps Aphra saw this bid as the safest. After all, it is hard to trust gangsters and thugs. But, she also rejected the Cyban Front and they offered cash plus debt forgiveness. In addition, their reason for bidding was about safety. She turned that down. Therefore, Aphra’s motivations must have been in some part tied to the academic qualities of the Shadow University’s offer.

The Conclusion of Doctor Aphra #10

This issue concludes with Aphra informing the Shadow University she will arrange delivery of the crystal to them. However, before she can do anything, Rur essentially escape by taking control of one of the droids of the Cyban Front. Presumably, Triple Zero and BT-1 set this up. In the last issue, they exploited a loophole in a lazy command from Aphra and contacted Darth Vader. One might speculate they worked out a deal with the Dark Lord for Aphra’s demise. The resolution to this predicament awaits in issue eleven.

Doctor Aphra #10 builds upon a fascinating series and story arc. Kieron Gillen really found a great stride with this series. Unlike the heroes of the main Star Wars title from Marvel, Aphra affords Gillen a measure of freedom. He has the liberty to tell unique stories with new characters. Their fates are unknown. For the most part, he is unshackled. Kieron takes advantage of this liberty in telling tales where Aphra’s ethics are always unclear but developing. Readers know what Luke, Leia, and Han are likely to do in any given situation. This is not so with Aphra right now. The reader’s relationship with Aphra is still relatively new.

Even putting this aside, Doctor Aphra is just a great ongoing story. Aphra is complex. She takes Star Wars storytelling into new genres, such as archaeology, and puts a new spin on familiar Star Wars stories, such as those of the underworld. This keeps Star Wars storytelling fresh. Now, what does Aphra do about Rur?

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