Doctor Aphra #35 Review

by Dennis Keithly

Aphra enacts her plan to obtain a pardon from the Empire in Doctor Aphra #35. Not everyone in the Empire is on board with this idea.

 This review contains plot points for Doctor Aphra #35.

Doctor Aphra #35 Cover

Doctor Aphra #35

Writers: Simon Spurrier | Pencils: Adrea Broccardo | Inkers: Marc Deering & Scott Hanna | Colorists: Chris O’Halloran | Cover Artist: Ashley Wittier | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia

Aphra is in a tough spot. The Empire, for reasons she doesn’t entirely understand, is after her. In addition, the fact that she delivered a potential super weapon to the Rebellion is nagging at her conscience. What is a rogue archaeologist to do when confronted with both problems? Answer: use one problem to solve the other.  In Doctor Aphra #35, Aphra finds unlikely and unpredictable solutions to problems as new obstacles arise.

The Key to Freedom

Aphra’s big idea in Doctor Aphra #35 is to turn over the ancient Jedi weapon, the Farkiller, to the Empire. This would prevent the Rebellion from turning it into their own Death Star. As revealed in Doctor Aphra #33, the Rebellion plans to reverse engineer the weapon with the intention of destroying the Emperor’s palace on Coruscant from afar. Of course, this means that thousands of innocents would likely die in the process. It is difficult to say whether or why Aphra really cares about this. Not that she is in favor of the slaughter of innocents, but she is more in favor of not getting slaughtered herself. Regardless, she uses this knowledge to her advantage.

In Doctor Aphra #34, Tolvan arrived just in time to prevent Aphra from making off with the weapon. Now, Aphra has to convince her former flame to let her go. Aphra accomplishes this by revealing the Rebellion’s plans. In a wonderfully illustrated microexpression, Tovan’s facial tick reveals that she had no idea, and that the prospect of this shocked and disgusted her. So, Aphra uses the knowledge to convince Aphra to let her go. Before she departs, Aphra and Tolvan have their own take on the infamous “I love you – I know” exchange between Han and Leia.

What is curious about this plan is that nobody is bothered about what the Empire will do with this weapon. Aphra and Tolvan are afraid that thousands of innocents will die if the Rebellion has it. However, nobody flinches that the Empire previously put similar technology to work and murdered billions on Alderaan. The natural conclusion is that Aphra has something else planned for this weapon that she hasn’t revealed.

The Farkiller

Acceptance by the Empire

Aphra gathers Vulaada and quickly departs from the Rebellion. As she approaches an Imperial communication relay, she broadcasts a message on an officer’s channel. It reaches everyone across the Empire – including Darth Vader. Aphra insures her offer to turn in the weapon for amnesty will be accepted by appealing to their sense of justice and well being. She boldly declares what her intentions are and asks whether she will be welcomed or betrayed. It is a bold, calculated, and clever move. By broadcasting her intentions and then asking whether she will be accepted or betrayed once she brings in this weapon, she puts the top tier of the Imperial hierarchy on the spot. If they kill Aphra, what is to say they won’t betray their underlings later?

For his part, Darth Vader cares not what she intends or says. His holotransmission breaks into the reception after Aphra lands and demands that the officer in charge kill her before she even has a chance to speak (as an aside, his response of “Lord” to the officer’s demand that whoever was sending the transmission disclose their rank is priceless). Vader isn’t afraid of the potential unrest Aphra’s little speech is creating. No, he is concerned because Aphra knows his secrets: he is interested in finding Luke Skywalker and challenging the Emperor. Vader previously tried to kill Aphra over this knowledge.

Before the Imperial officer can act on this order, Minister Pitina Voor, Chair of the Coalition for Progess, and Imperial Propaganda and Misinformation arrives, cuts off the transmission, and welcome Aphra into the Empire.

Impure Motives

Doctor Aphra #35 continues two days later on Centax 3, which is the third moon of Coruscant. Voor, true to her title, prepares a propaganda video with Aphra at the headquarters for the Coalition for Progress. Despite the appearance of cordiality during the recording, Voor can’t contain her contempt for Aphra when it is all said and done. Once she has paid off Black Krrsantan on Aphra’s behalf, she then moves on to her plans for Aphra herself. In short, Aphra is to be part of her grand scheme to overthrow the Emperor.

Darth Vader's view

Concluding Thoughts on Doctor Aphra #35

It is safe to say that Doctor Aphra #35 has plenty to intrigue readers. First, if he had any doubt, Darth Vader is now certain that Aphra is alive. As mentioned earlier, he personally tried to kill her at the conclusion of volume one of Darth Vader. Also, Aphra used a Bor to change Tolvan’s memories and make her believe she killed Vader. Tolvan repeated the lie to Vader before she was buried under rubble on Akkresker Prison. Now, Vader has a bigger reason than ever to track Aphra down and kill her to say nothing of Voor’s planned insurrection.

In addition, the Jedi super weapon, the Farkiller, is back in the hands of the Empire. It seems unlikely to stay that way for long. Granted, this might be the tool the Empire uses to short cut their development of a second Death Star. Director Krennic and Galen Erso aren’t around any longer and the plans were destroyed on Scarif. The Empire has to start somewhere.

Plus, there is the continued flashbacks to Aphra’s tragic past with her own mother. She keeps using the wisdom her mother imparted on her as guidance for solving her problems with the Empire and mentoring Vulaada. In Doctor Aphra #35, there is a twist. Instead of relying on her mother’s wisdom, she falls back on what an Imperial officer told her after her mother died. When he was telling Aphra that the raiders have been a nuisance and that the Empire is about to clamp down, he explains this will result in the loss of some personal freedoms. Naturally, Aphra, still a child at the time,  was still in shock over her mother’s death. The officer explains that “one has to let go of the things that don’t fit the big picture. That’s how progress happens.” Aphra repeats that same line to Vulaada when she objects to leaving her pet behind as they flee the Rebellion. She seems to confuse impressive sounding statements for good parental advice, and when she actually repeats good parental advice, it is often out of context. Aphra has a lot to learn about motherhood.

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