Doctor Aphra #31 Review

by Dennis Keithly

Aphra’s instinct rebels against her elastic morals as she and Triple Zero approach their destinies in Doctor Aphra #31 as “Worst Among Equals” concludes.

This review contains plot points for Doctor Aphra #31.

Doctor Aphra #31 Cover

Doctor Aphra #3

Writers: Simon Spurrier | Art: Emilio Laiso & Andrea Broccardo | Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg | Cover Artist: Ashley Wittier | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia

Over the course of the “Worst Among Equals” story arc, Aphra came face to face with the composition of her moral character. In Doctor Aphra #30, it dawned on her that the one being in the galaxy she identified with the closest was a psychotic murder droid. At the time, she seemingly resigned herself to the fact that she was amoral and that her life and well-being was purchased at the expense of those closest to her. However, before the argument is closed on Aphra’s personality, her instincts have a final argument in Doctor Aphra #31.

Meters from Death

Doctor Aphra #30 concluded with Triple Zero learning that his entire existence as the perfectly programmed torture droid was all a lie. Indeed, his program was a malfunction, and it was never intended that his programming would ever guide a droid at all. Faced with this knowledge, Triple Zero began wandering away from Aphra with the seeming intent that he would activate his proximity bomb and destroy them both. However, before he got far, Aphra short circuited his existential crisis by reactivating BT-1.

Triple Zero finally grows as a character in Doctor Aphra #31. After realizing his companion is back, Triple Zero acknowledges that companionship alleviates the new found pointlessness of existence. He credits Aphra with teaching him that. Furthermore, once he and Aphra escape their dire predicament, he actually spares her life. Triple Zero previously vowed to destroy her in the past, yet he bids farewell to his “dear, terrible friend.”

Doctor Aphra #31 Aphra

A Selfless Act

Aphra’s instincts in Doctor Aphra #31 reveals a little more about her character than she probably realized before. As she and Triple Zero are counting down what they believe are their final minutes, a squad of stormtroopers arrive. In unison, and exhibiting more of that closeness, Aphra and Triple Zero requested that BT-1 annihilate them. However, prior to the fire fight, Valuuda returns. She was the young woman that offered them a ride to the only cyberdoc that could remove the bombs from Aphra and Triple Zero only to betray them to the Empire. During the chaos between BT-1 and the stormtroopers, Aphra ends up taking a blaster bolt meant for Valuuda.

The question is, given all that was revealed about Aphra in the prior issues, why would she do that? The most obvious answer is that Aphra recognizes a little of herself in Valuuda. Over the course of her life and this series, Aphra betrayed, intentionally or not, all those closest to her in the name of saving her own skin. Valuuda admired Aphra and sought to emulate her. She did just that and ultimately betrayed Aphra. Then Valuuda came back for her. Perhaps it was then that Aphra realized that she too is more than the soulless monster she came to believe herself to be.

An Imperial observer, who narrates this scene, notes that for once Aphra didn’t stop and calculate and scheme. Her actions were deliberate and instinctive. They were heroic. Aphra has a little more to learn about herself after all.

Doctor Aphra #31 Triple Zero and Aphra

Final Thoughts on Doctor Aphra #31

Doctor Aphra #31 wraps up nearly all of Aphra’s outstanding storylines. Evazan and Ponda Baba are apprehended for their misdeeds. Interestingly enough, it was Winloss and his wife Nokk that were responsible for his capture. As Doctor Aphra #31 notes, they eventually capture the true monsters of the issue. After all, it was Evazan that concocted this crazy scheme for his own sick entertainment. In a nice touch, Nokk noted that the best hunters don’t chase their prey, they figure out where they are going. Once she and Winloss knew that Aphra and Triple Zero were looking for the cyberdoc, Professor Prexo, that could fix their problem, they just got there first. Then, they enlisted his aid in tracking down Evazan’s signal.

Tam Posla and the force imprinted spores finally meet their end as well. As the hookspores inhabiting Posla cried out for justice one last time, Triple Zero incinerated them and Posla’s remains. Coming where this scene does in Doctor Aphra #31, the symbolism appears to be that neither Aphra or Triple Zero required justice at that point. By that point, Aphra came to terms with her own selfishness and Triple Zero realized that companionship was perhaps a better alternative to endless slaughter. Therefore, the hookspores no longer served a useful purpose.

Doctor Aphra #31 also has a little something to say about the power of the individual. The Imperial observer that monitored Aphra earlier, Minister Voor, noted that Aphra’s actions were problematic for her and the Empire. Milvayne was a model Imperial world. They believed that they had no choice but to embrace Imperial subjugation. The individual was insignificant. Aphra’s actions taught them otherwise and the citizens begin to revolt. That was a problem that Imperial propaganda couldn’t fix. Imperial firepower was now required.

Overall, Doctor Aphra #31 is an issue that enhances the prior four issues. It collected and resolved several story arcs in a fitting manner. There are two unresolved issues. First, Tolvan is still out there. Although Aphra knows she survived, Tolvan still believes she murdered Aphra. For that matter, Sana Starros would think so as well if Tolvan confesses anything. Second, Aphra is lying on Milvayne dying. However, considering that this issue ends by teasing her next adventure, that issue isn’t likely to remain open for long.

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