When I think of Star Wars, I think of space, lightsabers, and Darth Vader. I know some of the various versions of the Star Wars universe have dealt with the history of said universe, but I think of Star Wars as the future (even if it was in a galaxy a long time ago). This is why it was fun to read about Doctor Aphra in the first volume (collecting issues #1-6) of the graphic novel series that bears her name. She is a Star Wars universe character but an archaeologist. She is dealing with the past of this galaxy that is far, far away.
Now, this graphic novel wasn’t the first of her adventures (I sort of vaguely knew that going in), and while there is the sense that things have happened (she is on the run from the Imperials and is in Darth Vader’s bad books or would be if he knew she was alive), it was an easy adventure to jump into. In this journey through the Star Wars universe, she’s got debts to pay (a familiar Star Wars theme but worked well here) as well as some family dynamics to cope with (is it Star Wars if someone isn’t working out their father issues?). She runs afoul of some Imperials, and her background as a person who is going to do what she needs to do to come out on top is highlighted.
I didn’t feel lost, and the plot was nicely laid out, and I really loved the art done by Kev Walker. You aren’t restrained by what CGI/special effects makeup can do when you have a comic, so the settings and alien races looked great. It also didn’t suffer from some other media tie-in comics I have read where there is a desire to try and draw the characters like the actors that portray them. This is an all-original cast (minus the familiar-looking but not quite the same droids that accompany Aphra), so they look, well, like themselves!
I did feel like this collection worked a bit as a pilot; the story arc was self-contained but left enough tidbits and plot hooks to make me interested in seeing where the story goes. I do hope that maybe we move a bit beyond ‘look, Jedi things’ in the future, but eh, this is Star Wars. It also didn’t feel like I was missing something being a fan of the Star Wars movies but having left exploring the book universe around the time the Young Jedi Adventures stopped getting published. Maybe there were some deep cuts to Star Wars lore (there probably were), but those potentially sailing right over my head didn’t impact my enjoyment.