Steampunk Doctor Aphra

by Kendall Schroeder

Marvel’s Star Wars comic Doctor Aphra is tackling gothic horror. Is Steampunk Aphra next? Kendall Schroeder explores in this installment of the RetroZap Artist Series.

I think Doctor Aphra is an intriguing character. Since her introduction into the Star Wars canon in March of 2015, I want to know more. Doctor Aphra first appeared in Marvel Comic’s Darth Vader #3: Vader, Part III, a brilliant series written by Kieron Gillen. The amazing Spanish artist, Salvador Larroca, developed the look of Aphra. By taking inspiration from Indiana Jones, Larroca created a unique Star Wars villain. As a result, in the original inception of Doctor Aphra, Larroca stated that he even drew her with the famous fedora. He later settled for the now familiar aviator cap and goggles.

The Introduction of Doctor Aphra

Darth Vader #3

In Darth Vader #3, Gillen and Larroca introduce readers to Doctor Aphra with a scene that could have been ripped from the pages of the Raiders of the Lost Ark storyboards. Doctor Aphra, like Dr. Jones, is an archaeologist risking life and limb in pursuit of desirable artifacts. For a more in-depth review of Aphra’s introduction visit Retrozapper Dennis Keithly’s Comics Commentary here.

The Continuing Adventures of Doctor Aphra

I am excited to see Doctor Aphra get her own Star Wars title. First, it gives me an opportunity to spend more time with the character. I am ready to go on more adventures with Aphra and her evil companions, the Wookiee warrior Black Krrsantan, protocol droid Triple Zero, and astromech BeeTee. Additionally, the world that Keiron Gillen is creating around this character is fresh and intriguing. Artist Kev Walker, who takes over for Salvador Larroca in Doctor Aphra #2, continues to develop the look of the space archeologist.

Doctor Aphra #1

Influences from famous Star Wars characters

Doctor Aphra is not only a mash-up of characters like Indiana Jones and Han Solo, furthermore the creators gave her personality traits that are reminiscent of strong female Star Wars characters. Aphra is tough like Padme Amidala of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.  She’s spunky like our beloved Princess Leia Organa. And, she’s crafty like Ahsoka Tano. All of these characters had close ties to Vader as well. Most noteworthy to me is Doctor Aphra’s looks. Many say that she looks like a female version of Han Solo. However, the use of the aviator cap is an interesting choice. It seems as if Larroca and now Walker are trying to invoke a 1920s vintage aviatrix.


A Star Wars Aviatrix

As I continued to scour through reference material of 20s and 30s aviation, I started to get a steampunk vibe. Since the inspiration for steampunk is the Industrial Age machinery and fashion, this makes sense. Therefore, I need to put Aphra into this context. What would Doctor Aphra look like decked out in steampunk gear? What would her psychopath droids look like in this same style?

Aphra WIP

Steampunk Aphra

So, while I straddled both genres a bit, I settled on our “good” Doctor wielding pistols and dressed as a steampunk aviatrix. Look closely! I even incorporated a steampunk version of Aphra’s ship The Ark Angel in the background.

Steampunk Aphra

Due to her popularity, Doctor Aphra is getting her own action figure from Hasbro. In addition, Gillen is teaming with Jason Aaron in a gothic horror story arc as Aphra meets Luke Skywalker in the comic book crossover Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel. And with each new iteration, we have a new artist to take the reins as Marco Checchetto adds his own influences to Larroca’s Doctor Aphra. So, If we can see gothic horror in Star Wars, seems like the next logical stop is Steampunk Aphra. At least in my mind, the engine is running.

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