Doctor Aphra #21: There is no Aphra, only Zuul.

To say that this series was almost entirely about finding artifacts is an understatement. This should be it. Aphra is an archaeologist after all. It was something the old series and its misadventures in the “Darth Vader” series lacked. At times, the focus on the rarities of Aphra flying through another cave in this series got a bit monotonous at times. In this final story arc, the artifacts in question are just too neat to ignore. The ascendant technology gives its users some approximation of Sith powers, like gloves that magnetically levitate metal objects or items to control one’s mind. However, such devices come at a dark price, and it was time for Aphra to pay. As the Spark Eternal takes control, it leaves Aphra to watch as it plays with its comrades. This is very unusual for Aphra. No matter what difficult situations she found herself in, she had a plan and maintained some control. This time she has no options and no plan. She can’t speak. She can’t move. She is a prisoner of her own body. She is helpless. In a way, she was effectively cut from her own series, leading this series into new, uncharted territory.

As far as storytelling goes, it’s kind of nice to have Aphra busy for a change. She often upstages her friends, demanding the limelight for herself. The only thing readers get from her here is just a bit of self-reflection before the spark tires of hearing her and shuts her up. The rest of the problem is all Spark. This gives Sana Starros some time to shine. With her partner essentially irrelevant, she must decide if she is capable of hurting Aphra. Sana is a strong character, generally following Aphra’s plans in this series as some sort of sidekick and possible love interest for Aphra. Long before this series, she was an independent character trying to ignore her former girlfriend’s betrayals. She was an accomplished smuggler, sometimes allied and sometimes enemy. She certainly had a contentious relationship with Doctor Aphra in her previous series. This issue gives him a change to become that character again, but in Aphra’s defense. She jumps straight into danger, takes matters into her own hands, and lives to fight another day. Since Aphra is out of service at the moment, Sana will at least focus on the next issue.

This glitch brings the Just Lucky character back into a separate story thread and it’s hard to really tell if this hurt or helped this glitch. Just Luck is a bit of a miss of a character, although he got a lot more interesting a few months ago. He returns to try to ask for help in joining Crimson Dawn. This part of the problem is completely disconnected, and even though it’s the same art, the colors, settings, and characters are such a sudden change from Aphra’s part of the problem that it’s a little off-putting . It also shows artistic versatility and very good use of separate color schemes. There’s even a follow-up scene with Domina Tagge which also seems to have its own color scheme. The problem is simply the character. The last time it got its own side storyline, it took a long time for it to cross paths with Aphra’s storyline, making it useless until it counted. Hopefully, Just Lucky finds its way to Sana and Aphra’s story more quickly.

Daniel K. Denny