Doctor Aphra #37 Review

by Dennis Keithly

Aphra begins a new career in service to the Empire, but working conditions aren’t great when Darth Vader is on the ship. Aphra hatches a new scheme In Doctor Aphra #37.

This review contains plot points for Doctor Aphra #37.

Doctor Aphra #37 Cover

Doctor Aphra #37

 Writers: Simon Spurrier | Art: Caspar Wijngaard | Colors: Lee Loughridge | Cover Artist: Ashley Wittier | Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia

Aphra just navigated a complicated trap when she exposed a traitor in the Emperor’s inner circle that was plotting the assassination of the Emperor. Her scheming paid off, and she received a pardon of sorts from the Empire for herself and her ward and sidekick, Vulaada. Such pardons come with a price though, and Aphra now finds herself working on an archaeological team dedicated to finding the location of the next Rebel base. To make matters worse, Aphra is stationed on Darth Vader’s flagship: the Executor. Now, in Doctor Aphra #37, Aphra begins scheming a way out of her newest predicament when an unexpected complication arises.

A Complicated Relationship

When Doctor Aphra #37 begins, Aphra is having a nightmare about the moment when Darth Vader threw her out the airlock. This is one of the monumental moments of her life. After helping Vader discover the identity of the pilot that destroyed the Death Star, her life was immediately in danger. Aphra had prepared for that, and when Vader jettisoned her out of his ship, she had her team nearby to rescue her. In the nightmare though, Aphra reaches for her breathing mask only to have Vader reach out with the Force and snap the breathing tube. She perishes. When she wakes up, Vulaada asks here which nightmare she was having this time: force choke, lightsaber through the eye, or strapped to the front of a TIE fighter. This is a recurring problem.

Since the day Vader disposed of her out the airlock, Aphra has been on the run from the Empire, and she has narrowly escaped numerous close encounters with the Dark Lord. She has fled from a starbase where she was hosting the auction of a rare Jedi artifact, and later she faked her own death by altering the memories of her lover with the use of a Bor. Most recently, when Aphra approached the Empire with an ancient Jedi weapon, Vader attempted to order her death.

Although Aphra secured a pardon from the Empire, she now finds herself in a new prison of sorts. She is on the same ship carrying out a job she loathes while the most dangerous man in existence hopes to kill her. Aphra attempts to plead with him for mercy on multiple occasions. Whenever she begins to mention the name “Skywalker” though, Vader reacts poorly and violently. The message is clear: it is only a matter of time. She needs to get away from Vader, and soon.

Doctor Aphra #37 Aphra and Ud

Aphra’s New Job

The Empire has assigned Aphra to a council of archaeologists in Doctor Aphra #37. Their mission is to find the new Rebel base. The supervisor of the team, Professor Ud, believes the Rebels will find another ancient site, such as the temples on Yavin IV, for their next base. Aphra, being Aphra, argues against the stupidity of this argument at first. Of course the Rebels won’t do that, they are too smart to do the same thing over and over again. Her insolence gets her a series of shocks from General Veers’s prod. Veers (who Aphra suggests changes his name to “Stayontarget”) is a proud product of the Imperial doctrine of success through intimidation. Ud’s predecessor died for lack of progress in a performance review with Darth Vader, but Ud has Veers convinced that this plan is a good one.

Viper probe droids, as seen in Solo: A Star Wars Story, spread across the galaxy have identified a potential target. Aphra proceeds to argue against the likelihood that the temple on the Ash Moon in the Kartovian Formation. That is, she argues against it until she realizes a field team will be sent to investigate. Then she is all in and brings Vulaada along with her.

Sudden Promotion

The trip to the Ash Moon reveals no signs of Rebel occupation. However, the trip proves eventful nonetheless. First, Aphra gets a confession out of Ud. He doesn’t care about finding the Rebels at all. In fact, this entire mission is only worth it to him because it is the largest archaeological survey of the galaxy ever taken. Next, Aphra uses his arrogance against him to plot his demise in a trap left behind by the isopter that used to inhabit the temple. This results in her promotion to Supervisor. Finally, a rogue explorer was already in the temple, and he tries to make a run for it. During his attempted escape, he declares that he has friends in high places and he knows Jedi mind tricks. Big mistake. He is detained by the Empire.

Aphra’s promotion means she gets to attend the interrogation of the new prisoner. The scene begins with Aphra trying to convince Vader she isn’t a threat. He ignores her pleas, and then commands her to attend the interrogation with him. In typical Vader style, he begins strangling the prisoner. When the prisoner’s helmet falls off, Aphra is shocked to discover it isn’t a Rebel at all. It is worse. The prisoner is her father.

Doctor Aphra #37 - Vader and Aphra

Final Thoughts on Doctor Aphra #37

Doctor Aphra #37 sets up what should be another compelling story arc. Aphra either needs to convince Darth Vader she isn’t a threat (unlikely), or she needs to escape from the Empire without leaving a trail for him to follow. The arrival of her father complicates matters. The prior story arc dealt heavily with the impact Aphra’s mother’s wisdom made on Aphra’s life. Now, she must confront the complications her father adds. This has happened before.

Lost in all of this is that Aphra misplaced Vulaada. While exploring the temple, Aphra had Vulaada activate the trap that killed Professor Ud. Vulaada fell in a pit. When the Empire departed the moon, Vulaada was left behind. It is unclear whether that was intentional on Aphra’s part or not. If nothing else, Vulaada is currently beyond Vader’s reach. However, it is just as likely that Aphra was self-centered enough that she just simply forgot about Vulaada in all the commotion.

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