Something is refreshing about Doctor Aphra as a character in a universe where the good guys seem to take themselves far too seriously. An adventurer and artifact hunter, Aphra is also quite good at getting herself into trouble, as is seen in the latest collection out this week titled The Engine Job. Collecting Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #6-10, Alyssa Wong continues to write an exceptional lead character and proves they are very good at getting Doctor Aphra in and out of trouble in the nick of time.
Aphra’s ability to get into trouble is evident from the very first page as she sweats and screams from a bounty hunter’s holding cell. Using a bit of time jumping, Wong and Height set up a story revolving around Lady Domina, requiring Doctor Aphra’s skills. It appears to be a snatch-and-grab adventure, but as the story unfolds, you realize there are twists, turns, and familiar faces galore in this story.
This collection is a good example of how comics can be a great way to add layers to familiar faces and locations. Key locations from Solo: A Star Wars Story and The Last Jedi pop up, further entwining Doctor Aphra in the mythos. Seeing a familiar character like Lady Proxima also lets your imagination run wild, knowing there are further adventures to be explored with characters who may have only appeared in the films for a few minutes.
Fans of the comics should enjoy the inclusion of Sana Starros in the narrative. Introduced early on when Marvel took over the Star Wars license, her relationship to Doctor Aphra is compelling, and Wong is good at capturing the nuances of their complicated relationship. At times they are friends, at others at each other throats, and even a bit attracted to each other at times. They’re a good pair in this collection, and it’s fun to see how they riff off each other.
Thankfully this story isn’t one big chase for a McGuffin, although it does have a few they’re after. Wong keeps the characters and the reader on their toes to the end. It’s a bit of a bummer that this collection ends on a cliffhanger, making it feel too open-ended and not much of an ending, but the adventure continues.
There are so many close calls for Doctor Aphra that the book can feel a bit like a cartoon. Sana takes some damage later in the story, but the overall stakes and sense of danger are pretty absent. Since Doctor Aphra is on a job to find something, it never feels like life or death or that the adventure matters in the grand scheme of things. That’s usually the case with heist stories, though.
Art is by Ray-Anthony Height (#6, #10), Robert Gill (#6), and Minkyu Jung (#7-9). With three artists, the style looks abrupt when they change, which can take you out of the narrative. There’s a general level of detail and quality that’s appreciated, however. Colors by Rachelle Rosenberg pulls the visuals together as she colors every page. Energy effects and action always seem to have good kinetic energy no matter the artist.
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Vol. 2: The Engine Job is a fun adventure further developing Doctor Aphra’s familial relationships, which in this case is Sana. More importantly, the book reminds you this is Star Wars, and the story matters as it connects to a larger mythos. Doctor Aphra as a character is super fun and unique among the tapestry of colorful heroes in the series.
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