Doctor Aphra Annual #1 Review

by Dennis Keithly

Krrsantan’s history comes into focus in Doctor Aphra Annual #1.

This article contains plot details for Doctor Aphra Annual #1.

Doctor Aphra Annual #1 - Cover

Doctor Aphra Annual #1

 Writer: Kieron Gillen | Artists: Marc Laming w/ Will Sliney | Colors: Jordan Byrd | Cover Artist: David Nakayama| Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Editor: Heather Antos | Supervising Editor: Jordan D. White

Doctor Aphar Annual #1 is more a story of Black Krrsantan than Doctor Aphra herself. Make no mistake, this story fits in neatly with Aphra’s continued adventures. However, Krrsantan tells a story in furtherance of Aphra’s mission. Despite that, his story is quite interesting. For some time, readers of Doctor Aphra knew that Aphra’s Wookiee companion had a score to settle with the Xonti brothers. Doctor Aphra Annual #1 tells the story behind the score.

It All Starts on Kashyyyk

Krrsantan’s story starts years ago. Wookiees are famous for many things, including life debts, their growling language, and bowcasters. They were also known for becoming slaves of the Empire after the Clone Wars. Wookiees and their homeworld of Kashyyyk are also known for the Trandoshan raiding parties. Indeed, in tales that originated in Legends and were reborn in The Clone Wars, the Trandoshans regularly invaded Kashyyyk and hunted Wookiees for sport and for slaves.

Such is the beginning of this tale. A pack of Transoshan hunters arrive on Kashyyyk with the goal of capturing a Wookiee for the Xonti brothers. They then stumble upon an injured and bleeding Wookiee. However, this was a trap. Krrsantan used the other Wookiee to lure the Trandoshans in. Then he killed all but one of the slavers. Krrsantan made a deal with the final slaver. The big Wookiee wanted to be taken to the Xonti brothers.

The scene shifts to the present day as this Trandoshan relates the story to a pair of reporters: Dixnet and Domthro. This duo are reporters on the Undervine, a news service unaffiliated with the Rebellion and Empire. Fascinated by the tale, Dixnet and Domthro decide Krrsantan is their next story.

Doctor Aphra Annual #1 - Trandoshans

Krrsantan’s Tale

Dixnet and Domthro eventually get this wish a few weeks later. They arrive on a planet to interview Krrsantan. Aphra meets them at their landing strip. However, Aphra is undercover as “Sulan Do.” As an aside, Sulan is a name previously used in The Old Republic games, but there is no apparent relation. Aphra steps aside as the journalists leave for their interview with Krrsantan.

Despite volunteering for the Xonti’s training methods, which surprised many, the brothers treated him harshly. They put him in chains. Perhaps that was a precaution. Their methods are brutal and cruel, and they likely suspected Krrsantan would rebel against them.

The Xonti Brothers’ goal is the preparation of gladiators for sale to arenas. Therefore, they carefully select their combatants and evaluate how best to prepare them. Later, the Xonti brothers determine Krrsantan is more valuable modified. However, they don’t want to perform cybernetic enhancements. Such enhancements place a gladiator in the “Ultraheavy” class where his value is likely wasted. Therefore, they subject Krrsantan to subdermal plating, endoskeleton enhancement, and permanent knuckledusters. They make a reference to Dr. Cylo from the Darth Vader comic as the man responsible for pioneering these innovations. They also note that some subjects don’t survive the process. Krrsantan is tougher than most.

Doctor Aphra Annual #1 - Dixnet and Domthro

Success of the Gladiator

Krrsantan’s modifications are a huge success. After his recovery, the modified Wookiee makes short work of his opponents in the arena. Along the way, he learns the final lesson, which the Xonti label “showmanship.” Once Krrsantan concludes the tale, Dixnet has a question. She fails to comprehend Krrsantan’s motivation. After all, he volunteered, but he failed to realize what he was getting into. How could Krrsantan want revenge for that?

Krrsantan has a scathing response. Revenge is an oversimplification. He owes the Xonti Brothers a debt. They changed his life, and now he must change their lives in a similar fashion to balance the scales. Like a life debt, he must settle up with the Xonti. After that, he plans on settling with Dixnet for her perceived rudness.

Doctor Aphra Annual #1 - Aphra's Subterfuge

Aphra’s Subterfuge

Of course, Aphra was up to something during all of this. While Krrsantan spun his tales for Dixnet and Domtro, she snuck aboard their ship. With the assistance of BT-1 and Triple Zero, she sabotaged the ship’s link to the Undervine. As a result, an advertisement for her upcoming auction of the Rur crystal was broadcast hundreds of times. This reveal clearly sets this story ahead of the current “The Enormous Profit” storyline.

Doctor Aphra Annual #1 -- Krrsantan Training

Concluding Thoughts on Doctor Aphra Annual #1

Kieron Gillen told an excellent story in Doctor Aphra Annual #1. The Wookiees always had an interesting system of honor. While Black Krrsantan might not typify the average Wookiee, his tale and perceived “debt” to the Xonti brothers added a new dimension to Wookiee culter. Also, his tale illuminates his fight with Chewbacca during the Vader Down miniseries. Krrsantan got the best of Chewbacca then. This helps explain why.

On the surface, this story doesn’t tell much that is new or appear to alter the future of Doctor Aphra. In fact, it serves as an explanation of how Aphra advertised her auction anonymously. Beyond that, it adds some depth to Krrsantan’s character. His story is something other than a cliched revenge tale. Plus, the revelation of Krrsantan’s secret modifications come to light.

An issue like Doctor Aphra Annual #1 reveals why Doctor Aphra is such a great series. Aphra, Krrsantan, and the droids, unlike the classic movie characters, have undefined destinies for this era. Their stories are fresh. Gillen has the most creative freedom with this character. Marvel needs more Aphras and more stories like this.

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