I got the impression that this rather uneven comic was winding down after the last instalment but no, it appears that the good/bad Doc isn’t going anywhere yet. One of the strongest of all the new “expanded universe” folk, her antics have made for entertaining reading yet the story arcs have seemed inconsistent at times and her character varies between little impish girl and hard hearted woman. The artwork has been similarly inconsistent through the previous five volumes too veering between the photo realistic style of the main Star Wars title and a softer cuter style and everywhere in between. The main character is no more consistent herself. Flitting between the Empire, the Rebel Alliance and well, herself and no one else, Aphra lives life on the fringes of the dark and light sides of the galaxy wide conflict giving her an anti hero status as rogue archaeologist out for herself but every so often feeling compelled to do the right thing. An ambiguous lass it is fair to say.
This latest tale then, evolves around that conflict of interest and “doing the right thing” as Aphra, supposedly lying low for a bit is doing anything but. A splinter group of Rebels are intent on carrying out a potentially massive attack that will end the war right now. It does however come at a cost. A huge cost. Whether Aphra is prepared to be part of it all is something she will need to think long and hard about. On top of that she also has Vulaada in tow now, a young waif with a beastly alien pet for who Aphra is, saints preserve us, a role model cum mother figure! Now this is a plot direction that has some mileage and the Doc’s relationship with her own mother is explored in flashback alongside her budding surrogate mother role. This is a real strength of this book and goes some way to explain how Aphra has become the outlaw with little sense of responsibility to anyone but herself that we know today. Taking responsibility for her actions and thinking of others before herself is exactly what she is faced with doing as this tale unravels.
The artwork in this sixth run around is yet again different to previous issues. There’s a simpler and more nineties look about the pages of Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon and Aphra is back to looking older. I suppose with the little ‘un tagging along, it wouldn’t do if her “new mother” looked only a few years older would it? As for the story? Well, rest assured it’s the usual mayhem: stealing a priceless alien artefact, wondering which side to throw in with, falling foul of both and scrapes aplenty! Adding in the Aphra as a kid parts – her parents called her Little Boop! – is an avenue of narrative that opens up the character a great deal more and was very pertinent in this tale. Aphra’s on/off can they/can’t they relationship with She Wolf of the Empire Tolvan is also not going away either though things have changed dramatically since last time.
The combination of origin tale, new characters that impact on Aphra’s moral compass, recurring characters who throw a spanner in the works and falling in love with someone you shouldn’t fall in love with continue to be a heady brew and this title still continues to entertain. Who’d a thought it? Marv Gadgie