It’s not for everyone, but I sometimes enjoy jumping into the middle of a story. I like to see how quick I can pick up what is happening by context clues. It’s like a movie that starts with an action scene and you have no idea who anyone is or what’s going on, so you just have to go with the flow. Thats exactly what I’m doing with Star Wars: Doctor Aphra The Catastrophe Con. I’ve heard a lot about Doctor Aphra as a character — in fact, the issues that make up this volume have received high praise here at AiPT!, but I haven’t had the chance to sit down and read any of her adventures. Which is a shame because I enjoy a lot of the Star Wars content outside of the films themselves. Through friends I’ve gotten to know a little about her character and the waves she’s made in the Star Wars universe, but nothing first hand. So, what better place to begin then volume 4?
As a Star Wars fan, when I turn to a medium outside of the films, I mostly look to see what impact the characters have on the bigger picture. What bits of detail are being added to help flesh out the universe and its history. You do get some of that within The Catastrophe Con. For example, we are introduced to Bor Ifriem, identifying these creatures known as Bors to be Mairan. Dr. Evazan makes another return to flesh out his character a little bit as well. Unfortunately, the details that make a universe like Star Wars so expansive essentially end there. After reading through this issue, I don’t know what part Doctor Aphra plays in the grand scheme of things outside of being a quirky archeologist who occasionally bumps into original trilogy characters. Can you call her an archeologist if her intent is to sell her findings? Indiana Jones would call that heartless. To me, the best part she could play is building the canon of history through the artifacts she is either finding or hunting down. I thought there was a fantastic opportunity towards the end involving an ancient lightsaber to establish an old republic Jedi, but that opportunity came and went.
“That belongs in a museum!”
If you’ve made it to volume 4, I presume you’re a Doctor Aphra fan and know a good bit about her character already. Which means you care just as much about the waves shes making as you do Doctor Aphra herself. If so, this is probably a great addition to her story for you because it builds on several of her past relationships (which I admittedly know little about) and possibly even closes a few. However, if you are in the dark on Aphra its probably going to come off as a silly, meaningless adventure made better by a badass cameo from everyone’s favorite Sith.
In hindsight, jumping into the deep end with this volume probably wasn’t the best representation of Doctor Aphra. I know she has a long history with Vader and her romantic relationship seems to be culminating from a much deeper past. While nothing from The Catastrophe Con jumps out at me as a must read for Aphra fans or newbies, she does intrigue me enough to want to continue reading her other stories. I expected to like her right away from all that I’ve heard, but find myself on the fence. My biggest hard stance against her was her Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C3-PO doppelgängers. They seemed too on the nose to me, but she appears to have mostly moved away from those characters aside from a brief run in with the former.
I don’t mean to make it seem like I didn’t enjoy this comic. For starters, the artwork is great. It has a tad of an anime style with a mostly modern day traditional look. The way the story flows keeps the action rolling as well. It seems like every time Aphra gets out of one jam, an estranged acquaintance shows up to make her life even more difficult. Also, there’s Vader. You can’t really go wrong with a good Vader appearance. If you’ve been an Aphra fan up to this point you’ll probably really enjoy this installment and find it to be pivotal reading for her story. However, if this is your first time picking up a Doctor Aphra book you may enjoy the ride but find a lot of moments lost on you.