Doctor Aphra #15

by Dennis Keithly

Aphra leads Triple Zero’s murder crew on another heist in Doctor Aphra #15.

This article contains plot details for Doctor Aphra #15.

Doctor Aphra #15 Cover

Doctor Aphra #15

Writers: Kieron Gillen & Si Spurrier | Artist: Emilio Laiso | Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg| Cover Artist: Ashley Wittier | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Assistant Editor: Heather Antos | Editor: Jordan D. White

Aphra did the whole serving a master thing before, and she didn’t care for it. During volume one of Darth Vader, Aphra found herself in service to the Dark Lord of the Sith. Her service didn’t end on the best of terms with Vader, and he threw her out an airlock. She had some tricks up her sleeve, and she survived. Then she set out on adventures of her own with Black Krrsantan, Triple Zero, and BT-1 by her side. Like Aphra, the droids didn’t particularly enjoy serving another master. Therefore, they engineered their own exit strategy. In the last issue of Doctor Aphra, Triple Zero turned the tables on Aphra. In Doctor Aphra #15, readers find out how and why.

Some Secrets Are Better Left Unexposed

The secret to Aphra’s servitude to Triple Zero is simply this: if she doesn’t do what the droid wants, Triple Zero will inform Darth Vader that Aphra survives. This is a situation that Aphra has taken great pains to avoid in the past.

However, there is something neither Aphra nor Triple Zero know: Darth Vader likely already realizes that Aphra survived. In Doctor Aphra #13, Vader sensed an “infuriating presence” as Aphra escaped from the space station he just invaded. In that case, he instructed his stormtroopers to maintain their blockade even though she was escaping, as she was of no matter to him. Perhaps this figures into how Aphra ultimately escaped Triple Zero’s control.

Doctor Aphra #15 - Magna Tolvan

Tolvan’s Reprieve

Doctor Aphra #14 found a former adversary of Aphra’s paying the penalty for past failures. Lieutenant Magna Tolvan found herself on a remote world in a reduced rank and in service to an inferior officer for failing to stop Aphra before. Now, she finds herself subject to execution after receiving three demerits for failures in her field service.

In fact, the issue commences with her locked up in an Imperial prison awaiting execution. Just when the warden arrives for her execution “Joystick Chevron” arrives and rescues her. “Joystick Chevron” is a pseudonym Aphra adopted in her encounter with Tolvan in the last issue. In both encounters with Tolvan, Aphra demonstrated some affection for her and told her she was cute. It seems that Tolvan might have some latent reciprocal feelings. However, this is nothing but a dream, and she is roused from her sleep just as she and Aphra were about to kiss in their dream.

Despite the rude awakening, Tolvan finds a reprieve from the firing squad. Just before her execution is carried out, orders arrive naming her the Legatee of the deceased Inspector Thanoth and reassigning her to the Inspectorate. With the reassignment, the demerit system shifts, and Tolvan is no longer subject to execution as she has another demerit to burn.

Minions with Leadership Qualities

Suggesting Aphra hates serving Triple Zero is an enormous understatement. Furthermore, she openly questions why Triple Zero needs her at all. As she puts it, Triple Zero is the head of a crime syndicate. By way of answer, Triple Zero explains it is “wise to have one or two minions with leadership qualities.” This gives the other minions “someone to hate while they’re being sacrificed.”

Of course, there is more to it than that. Triple Zero enjoys torturing lifeforms. In fact, he begins his holo-conversation with Aphra while torturing an unnamed human. It isn’t just physical torture he enjoys either. He finds great satisfaction in forcing Aphra to take actions she would rather not. For instance, as he sends her on her next mission, he makes her choose which mercenaries to bring along. She doesn’t care for this chore, and she hates the next one even more. She must choose which one to sacrifice to the Empire, which has just arrived at their shuttle pad.

The Violet Ghost

The mercenaries available to Aphra are many and varied. However, particular attention only needs to be paid to one at the moment. “The Violet Ghost” is an undercover stranger, likely royalty, “making a name in swordcraft for himself.” He is also the first mercenary of which Aphra disposes. Although the Violet Ghost adequately dispatches the initial forces of the Empire at the Son-Tuul Spaceport, he is overwhelmed when the Empire shows up with an AT-ST and another squad of stormtroopers.

“The Violet Ghost’s” real name is Viscount Rabael Dir Glorio, and he is 26th in line to the “massacred throne of Alderaan.” Therefore, he took great delight in slaughtering stormtroopers. However, when notices the reinforcements, he requests that Aphra allow him back onboard only to find her gone. Triple Zero’s philosophy is at work. She is the “someone to hate” while he is “being sacrificed.” The Violet Ghost’s ultimate fate is unknown.

Doctor Aphra #15 - Betrayal on Skako Minor

Mission: Skako Minor

Once Aphra finally gets away from Son-Tuul, she discovers their next mission takes them to Skako Minor. If this seems familiar, it is because it is the home world of the Skakoans. The most notable Skakoan is Wat Tambor, the leader of the Techno Union that was featured in Attack of the Clones. Triple Zero wants to raid his home. In furtherance of this mission, they brought along another Skakoan: Bas. The only problem is the Bas is an Imperial agent and he turns Aphra and the mercenaries over to the Empire.

Aphra is resourceful. It is one of her better qualities. She spliced together a Tooka clone with some special customizations. She explained her experiment, which she named Flufto, as the result of nostalgia to Triple Zero. Aphra claims she had a pet Tooka (which looks an awful lot like a purple Loth-cat) as a child. However, if Aphra was sentimental, it was short lived. The Tooka’s customizations include a biological bomb. With the utterance of the codephrase “snugglebum oogiwoogie,” Flufto explodes and takes the stormtroopers with him. Sentimentality only goes so far with Aphra.

Concluding Thoughts on Doctor Aphra #15

Doctor Aphra #15 issue concludes with Tolvan researching the identity of “Joystick Chevron.” She is aided by an Imperial droid and Inspector Thanoth’s own files. While conducting her research, she comes across a deleted file protected by an unusual protocol. She discovers the key to the protocol by digging into Thanoth’s files, and there she makes the alarming discovery that Thanoth was attached to Darth Vader when he died. This isn’t what she was expecting to say the least.

Kieron Gillen and Si Spurrier keep finding ways to keep Doctor Aphra fresh and relevant while grounded in Star Wars. This issue contains a reference to the “Isopter Death Cult.” Coincidentally, that very cult is entertaining Luke Skywalker in the pages of Star Wars #40 and #41. Doctor Aphra #13 saw Aphra’s status quo change dramatically. Her allies departed. Yet, she rolled right into her next adventure with the same flair and spirit that marked her previous outing. In addition, this story takes the hallmarks of the original trilogy movies and it combines them with a prequel era inspiration. This is first rate Star Wars storytelling with figures unnecessary to the movies. That is a rare feat for the current Star Wars canon.

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