Marvel’s Star Wars: Darth Vader comic was a massive success, giving readers an in-depth look at the life and struggles of the Dark Lord of the Sith. One of the other reasons for the comic’s success was the supporting cast. The violent Wookiee bounty hunter Black Krrsantan. The homicidal droid pair of 0-0-0 and BT-1. And, above all, the rogue archaeologist Doctor Aphra. Who is the intriguing Doctor Aphra and why is she important to the Star Wars story? Read on…
Star Wars: Darth Vader ended with issue 25, and replacing it will be a new ongoing series starring everyone’s favorite space archaeologist. Star Wars: Doctor Aphra will be the first ongoing series from Marvel to focus on an original character not featured in any film or television series.
But who is Doctor Aphra? And why does she deserve to have her own comic series?
Doctor Aphra first appeared in the third issue of Star Wars: Darth Vader. A brilliant droid engineer and archaeologist, Aphra sold her services to criminal groups by providing them with reconditioned and reprogrammed droids. Impressed with Aphra’s work, Darth Vader sought her out, looking to cultivate his own private resources. Vader’s perceived failure at the Battle of Yavin caused the Emperor to subordinate him to Grand General Tagge.
Fascinated by weapons technology, Doctor Aphra obtained two experimental but homicidal droids – 0-0-0 and BT-1. She originally intended to sell them to the Droid Gotra, but after Vader recruited her, Aphra placed them under his command as well as her own. Darth Vader had a task for her – he wanted his own private army which was loyal to him. Vader and Aphra travelled to Geonosis where they stole a droid factory. Aphra used the factory to create an army of BX-series droid commandos.
Aphra initially believed that Vader would kill her following this mission, and implored him to use his lightsaber to give her a clean death. She hoped that he would not space her out of an airlock, which was one of her fears. Vader surprised Aphra by not killing her, believing her to be useful in the future.
Aphra continued her association with Vader, working with him in secret as he marshalled his own resources to search for the pilot who had destroyed the Death Star – his own son, Luke Skywalker. Often Aphra’s work for Vader brought her into contact with Imperial forces. Since the Dark Lord was keeping her operations secret from his own masters, she often had to rely on Vader to improvise situations for her to remain free.
Learning of Skywalker’s location, Aphra sent Vader to the planet Vrogas Vas, where he was confronted by a large force of Rebels on the planet. Aphra resolved to rescue Vader from the planet, reasoning that if he survived the battle with the Rebels and believed that she had sent him there deliberately, he would kill her. During the rescue, Aphra herself was captured by Rebel forces.
Taken to the secret Alliance facility called Sunspot Prison, Aphra was called upon to help the Rebels defend the installation. An extremist group of Rebels took over the prison, believing in the execution of prisoners rather than their incarceration. After assisting the Rebels, Aphra attempted to escape in the confusion, but was caught by Princess Leia and Sana Starros. For her help, Aphra was allowed to take an escape pod and flee.
Free of both Vader and the Rebels, Aphra attempted to lay low and avoid attention. However, her location was discovered, and Vader dispatched 0-0-0 and BT-1 to recover her. She surrendered to the pair to prevent bloodshed as their orders were strictly to deliver her alive to the Super Star Destroyer Executor. However, once they arrived, Aphra took advantage of their programming restrictions and since they had fulfilled Vader’s order, she was able to order them to assist her to escape.
Aphra’s escape was hindered by an attack on the Executor by the cyborg Cylo-V and his forces. Left with few choices, she confronted the Emperor himself and revealed everything that Vader had been up to, hoping that he would protect her from the Dark Lord’s wrath. Her plan did not work out exactly as he hoped. The Emperor was proud of Vader’s secret machinations, not angry. However, Aphra did not betray the truth about Luke Skywalker to the Emperor.
In return for her betrayal of him, Vader forced Aphra into an airlock and spaced her – which was precisely her plan. She knew that when the time came, Vader would not be kind enough to kill her swiftly with a lightsaber and had purposely revealed her “fear” of being spaced. Aphra survived long enough in hard vacuum to be picked up by the droids and Black Krrsantan. Now officially dead, Aphra set out to reclaim her life.
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra
The story picks up after the events of Star Wars: Darth Vader #25. Darth Vader believes that Doctor Aphra is dead, and she wants to keep it that way. Because if Vader finds out she’s alive … well, she would be dead for real this time. Aphra wants to get back into the field of archaeology, but several things stand in her way. First, she owes Black Krrsantan a lot of money, and has promised to help him track down the individuals who trained him as a gladiator and tortured him. Second, the droids 0-0-0 and BT-1 are a ticking timebomb. Third, her credentials are being questioned. And last of all, her father has turned up. Maybe working with Darth Vader wasn’t so bad after all …
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra is being written by Kieron Gillan, who introduced the character into the Star Wars universe in the pages of Star Wars: Darth Vader. Kev Walker will provide the art. The first issue of Star Wars: Doctor Aphra will be released on 7 December.