By looking out for old friends, Doctor Aphra helps herself and enacts some old fashioned revenge in Doctor Aphra Annual #3.
Warning: This article discusses plot points for Doctor Aphra Annual #3.
Doctor Aprha Annual #3
Writer: Simon Spurrier | Artist: Elsa Charretier | Colorists: Edgar Delgado; Jim Campbell | Lettering: Joe Caramagna | Cover Artists: Elsa Charretier & Matt Hollingsworth | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia
Doctor Aphra Annual #3 follows a tradition for the Doctor Aphra Annuals: the story proves to feature less of Aphra and more of her allies and companions. Doctor Aphra Annual #1 told the story of how Black Krrsantan came by all his modifications. Doctor Aphra Annual #2 featured the monster hunter team of Winloss and Nokk. However, regardless of how much Aphra appears in the Annual issues, the stories are always about her in some way. For instance, Doctor Aphra Annual #2 was really about how Aphra used the monster hunters to free her from a trap that she fell into while exploring a temple. Similarly, Doctor Aphra Annual #3 features Aphra acting out of character (almost) as she helps some old allies in a scheme that ultimately benefits her.
Doctor Aphar Annual #3 brings back some of Aphra’s old allies and rivals. First, there is Black Krrsantan, the wookiee mercenary to whom Aphra previously owed large sums of money. Then there is Winloss and Nokk, the odd human and Trandoshan married couple. On some level, Aphra has worked with all three and wronged all three in the past. However, she notes at the beginning of Doctor Aphra Annual #3 that actions have ripples. Her selfish actions in the past have come at the expense of others, and now it is time to do something for someone else. Specifically, she starts thinking of Nokk. Aphra knows where a particular Trandoshan is. This Trandoshan, Skikkesk, was responsible for “ruining” Nokk’s life, and Aphra is going to tell her where to find him.
Doctor Aphra Annual #3 has a clever gambit. It just so happens that the bartender at the famous Mos Eisley cantina is also an old acquaintance of Aphra’s. Shrem worked a job with Aphra, and in the end, he betrayed and abandoned her to a hoard of Jawas. Furthermore, Skikkesk was involved as well. Aphra makes her appearances in Doctor Aphra Annual #3 largely through a view screen surrounded by a pile droids that have seen better days. Therefore, it is reasonable that the Jawas took her prisoner aboard one of their Sandcrawlers, and Aphra engineered her plot from there.
Regardless, Nokk gets a transmission from Aphra regarding Skikkesk’s location. She listens to it just where Shrem can catch what is going on. Meanwhile, her husband, Winloss, prods Shrem for information about where he might find work and rare critters. He only found one so far, and offers Shrem a few coins if he’ll watch it while he and Nokk see to other business. Enter Black Krrsantan. The wookiee has a bounty on his head, and most of the patrons of the cantina are eager to collect. They all fail in a spectacular bar fight. Krrsantan notices the critter on the bar and tries to buy it from Shrem for outrageous sums. Shrem refuses, but he discovers that the creature is a rare delicacy for the Hutts, and he hatches a plan.
Shrem decides to prey upon Winloss’s ignorance of the alleged value of the critter on his counter. He then offers to buy it from Winloss and sweetens the deal by telling him where Skikkesk is hiding out. This is news that Winloss can use to soothe his angry wife. However, once Winloss and Nokk depart, he calls Skikkesk with a warning. The idea is that he can then rid himself of the monster hunters and make a tidy profit off of the critter by selling it to Jabba.
What They Deserve
Things for Shrem start to go south almost as soon as he arrives at Jabba’s palace in Doctor Aphra Annual #3. Although he hoped for a quick payday free of complications, he encounters Winloss, Nokk, and Black Krrsantan departing Jabba’s audience chamber as he seeks entry. Oh, and Nokk has a message for him. It is contained on a datapad and it is from Aprha. As Shrem makes his approach to Jabba, he finds Skikkesk bound and gagged on the floor. Then Aphra explains the critter he thought was valuable was not what Shrem thought it was. It isn’t the rare delicacy that the Hutt nearly brought to extinction. It is common vermin. Angered, Jabba sends Shrem and Skikkesk to the pit of the rancor monster. Aphra has her revenge.
Conlcuding Thoughts on Doctor Aphra Annual #3
Simon Spurrier has a knack for writing Doctor Aphra. He knows that she is always tempted to do the right thing, but that self preservation and self-interest just frequently get in the way. Therefore, the introductory panels of Doctor Aphra Annual #3 are very compelling. Aphra, after finding herself detained, so to speak, spends time reflecting on her values and decides the consequences of her actions need to be addressed. So far, so good.
However, Aphra has been there before. When things take a turn for the worse, she generally looks out for herself. In the past, she made a former lover believe she murdered Aphra to protect Aphra from the murderous rage of Darth Vader for instance. So, when Aphra makes a gesture to Nokk in this issue, the reader is rightfully skeptical. Then something brilliant happens: Aphra largely disappears from the story. The reader has the opportunity to put aside that Aphra might have an ulterior motive for aiding Nokk.
From there, Doctor Aphra Annual #3 appears to be about Winloss, Nokk, Black Krrsantan, and Shrem after Aphra’s message. Why not? Doctor Aphra Annual #1 was really about Black Krrsantan. Aphra only participated in the story and used Krrsantan’s tale as a distraction to set up a future story. Doctor Aphra Annual #2 saw Aphra navigate Winloss and Nokk through a temple, but most of her appearance was only there via a holomessage. In the end though, both of those stories either benefited Aphra or worked to her advantage.
This Annual is no different. Currently, Aphra may or may not be stuck in a jawa prison. Time will tell. However, she doesn’t waste an opportunity. Shrem was right to be concerned at the mention of Aphra’s name, no matter how much he pretended not to know who she was. As Aphra says, “everything causes ripples,” and “in the end, everyone gets what they deserve.” That includes Aphra. When this issue ends, Winloss is proposing a continued alliance between Black Krrsantan and himself and wife. Aphra remains detained wherever she is. Until the next story that is. Aphra always gets away.
Dennis Keithly is a graduate of the University of Missouri, North Texas attorney, husband, father of two, and co-host of Starships, Sabers, and Scoundrels. In addition to Star Wars, Dennis is a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and super heroes in general. When not engaged in fictional universes, Dennis is reading a good book or watching the NHL, football, or studying the NFL draft.