I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying Star Wars fandom has been contentious in the last few years, and that the franchise is currently searching for its direction forward following the completion of the sequel trilogy. Thankfully, for those interested in the galaxy far, far away, Marvel is giving us a different take on the Star Wars formula with the current ongoing Doctor Aphra title.
In the second issue in this series, Alyssa Wong continues to develop the larger conflict for our resident archeologist, setting the stage for this new cast of characters to explore original facets of the larger Star Wars mythos.
Picking up from the first issue, Doctor Aphra and her team are pursuing the Rings of Vaale, ancient artifacts said to bring eternal love or fortune to its bearer, to a remote planet. Much like the rings themselves, the planet in question may produce madness in those that inhabitant it. Aphra’s team encounters the cursed inhabitants of the world, only to find rival archeologists also in pursuit of the artifact.
The real star of this issue is writer Alyssa Wong. The Aphra presented in these first two issues identifies why the character is so noteworthy: she’s not a Sith Lord or lost Jedi, nor does she fit comfortably into the light/dark dichotomy of characters often embraced by large swaths of the Star Wars universe. She captures the rogue quality of the figure, demonstrating that Aphra is willing to bend or break the rules to achieve her end.
Additionally, her role as a teacher and archeologist gives space to explore different functions and curiosities in the Star Wars galaxy. I appreciate the way Aphra provides background and detail to the ruins they find; while providing necessary exposition, the character’s academic influence comes through. The supporting cast fashioned by Wong also feels crisp, eschewing the stock personalities often populating this world with individuals that feel real and purposeful.
The issue’s writing is complemented by Marika Cresta, whose clean line-work and blocking provide clear direction and pacing to the dialogue and action. Colorist Rachelle Rosenberg delivers crisp and satisfying warmth to a series that could, in less capable hands, delve into a dark and muddied mess.
As we wait to see what direction Disney takes the Star Wars franchise, it’s good to know that they are investing in new takes on the universe. We’re only two issues into this series, but it’s a perfect time to see what can be done with a franchise that often feels restricted and locked into nostalgia.