The Crimson Reign event infiltrated multiple series, including Doctor Aphra. You might be surprised to learn Lady Qi’ra and her exploits aren’t too heavily involved in the latest collection, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Vol. 4: Crimson Reign. No, this latest collection explores Doctor Aphra’s time in college and some ancient relics meant to recreate Jedi and Sith powers.
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Vol. 4: Crimson Reign collects Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #16-20. It opens in a way that catches us up on a few key things, like Doctor Aphra’s electro-tattoos being on the fritz and Domina Tagge not taking kindly to Crimson Dawn’s secret agents. We’re talking full-on murder. Doctor Aphra works for her, though, and is soon headed her way to get her electro-tattoos fixed. The opening issue has the only Lady Qi’ra sighting, making the entire collection’s connection to the crossover event minimal at best.
Most of this collection is about Doctor Aphra and Sana Starros (Han Solo’s ex) investigating the location of an ancient weapon called the Thought Dowser. It was made by a culture called the Ascendent, obsessed with malevolent technology and replicating the effects of the Force. Enter Doctor Aphra’s old friend and now enemy Kho Phon Farrus. She’s all up in the evil tech used to make you look like a Jedi. Writer Alyssa Wong keeps the barbs coming from Aphra, who sees Kho as a kind of Sith cosplayer right down to the cloak.
This collection really picks up midway through as we get flashbacks to Aphra and Kho’s time in college as well as see how Aphra tainted Kho and made her break bad. Aphra has changed since and isn’t as malicious or hungry for theft, but Kho is far worse. The mysterious technology and ways in which people pretend to be Jedi or Sith is also an interesting element. One can imagine when the Jedi or Sith ruled for so long, many could make a buck or stay alive thanks to some magnets that make people think you can levitate things.
By the end of the collection, Doctor Aphra is in too deep with an ancient archeological site. It’s a major cliffhanger lacking answers, but that’s what the next volume will be for. Even though Doctor Aphra isn’t as keen on stealing or being immoral, it’s nice to see she’s still entering archeological sites and getting into mischief.
Drawn by Minkyu Jung with colors by Rachelle Rosenberg, the art, in general, has a slight manga feel. The book isn’t afraid to get splashy with the art, although it’s not the most detailed, so full-page splashes are a bit simple. There’s one with Kho where she’s standing on a tower looking down on a rather simple-looking building, for instance, that’s not that interesting. The art never looks half-baked or unfinished, however, and in general, the acting is solidly done.
Digging into the Crimson Reign tie-in comics, the connection has been loose at best. Doctor Aphra Vol. 4 continues that trend, as the story focuses mostly on its ongoing narrative about ancient technology by a long-lost culture. That’s right in Doctor Aphra’s wheelhouse, making for an exciting exploration of an underlooked part of the Star Wars universe.
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