[Warning: Contains SPOILERS for Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #2 & 3.]
Work can be murder, especially when your former boss is the Star Wars galaxy’s most fearsome villain, Darth Vader. After escaping the dark lord, Doctor Aphra finds herself back to basics. It seems that she owes a little (or a lot) of credit to half of the two bit thugs and criminals across the sector - and especially her Wookiee companion, Black Krrsantan. In order to keep the heat off her back, the rogue archaeologist takes on a risky dig (and partnership) coming away with a big score. Unfortunately, she now finds herself in a new dilemma - and her father joining in is no help.
The quest at hand is his lifelong archeological obsession: the Ordu Aspectu. But it isn't the text of the Jedi legend that will be of most interest to fans - it's the next step in solving the mystery. It's one that must be taken in a hidden temple well-known to Star Wars movie fans, but a complete mystery to most galactic citizens. As it turns out, the Rebellion's victory at Yavin, just like the destruction of Jedha that set Rogue One in motion, has been covered up completely by Imperial misinformation. But the secret of Yavin seems destined to get out.
What the Heck Is an Ordu Aspectu?
Her father’s obsession with an ancient Jedi fable cost him just about everything, including his wife and young daughter who left for the Outer Rim. Despite his fixation, his intentions appear somewhat noble, at least depending which variation of the legend is to be believed. In Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #2, both father and daughter (and Bee Tee) spin several theoretical yarns about the Ordu Aspectu, primarily surrounding a tale of powerful Force users who sought, and perhaps obtained, immortality... or, it could just be a semantic debate between Jedi historians.
Whether a grand reawakening of the Force, a powerful weapon, or just a mistranslation of a Whills' cocktail napkin scrawls, the reluctant family reunion heads off in search of an ancient Massassi temple, which Aphra’s father believes holds the key to the Aspectu mystery. Understandably, he doesn’t trust his daughter, so he only feeds her the coordinates piece by piece. They fly blind to the fourth moon of a remote planetary system - one which just happens to have some significant recent history: Yavin.
Rogue One, A New Hope, & Plausible Denial
Arriving on Yavin 4, Aphra and crew find the planet crawling with all manner of “Imperial entanglements.” Legions of Stormtroopers, AT-ST Walkers, and various scout craft patrol the area around the recently vacated Rebel base. When her father asks why the Empire is so interested in Yavin 4, she rolls her eyes, quipping offhand about the Battle of Yavin. When that reference goes over his head, she further needles him about the time the “Death Star went boom boom.” Her father, much like the rest of the galaxy, believes the Death Star and the destruction of Alderaan are only rumors whispered in close quarters by the tin flight-helmet set. He also finds it difficult to believe that the Empire would intentionally destroy Jedha.
Clearly fans of the Star Wars saga are far more in-the-know than the average galactic citizen when it comes to the major cosmic events of the times. Of course, audiences get their info right from the Rebellion and the Empire’s big cheeses. Much like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story afforded fans a deeper appreciation for the ugly side of Rebel life – as well as the sacrifices only spoken about in hushed, reverent tones – Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #3 explores the gaps in general knowledge within the galaxy-at-large. All in Kieron Gillen’s nonchalant fashion, no less.
It also illustrates the Empire’s extremely successful cover-up of two major catastrophes they perpetuated, as well as their major defeat at the hands of the rebels (now that’s a well-oiled propaganda machine). Her father’s ignorance about current events is one thing, but slipping into the heavily guarded Massassi temple without attracting extremely unwanted attention is another thing altogether.
The Secret of The Hidden Temple
Doctor Aphra, always the resourceful one, quickly determines a way to slip her party into the ancient temple. After they send out a false Rebellion signal, her Wookiee compatriot Black Kryssantan sets up near the origin point, waiting for a patrol. Once they arrive, he methodically takes them out, waging a shockingly effective war against the Empire’s best and brightest, even mopping the floor with an AT-ST (once again, Wookiees are total badasses). Meanwhile, the murder bots sneak into the temple unassumingly, like droids often can, letting Aphra and her father in through the air ducts.
Once inside, they quickly arrange the glowing Ordu gems around the temple – that resemble the Massassi temples themselves – and which the elder Aphra believes will offer further information about the ancient sect. Once each item is in place, setting up a classic Indiana Jones/Myst-style architectural puzzle, they wait for the big reveal. Unfortunately, nothing seems to happen, at least until Bee Tee and Triple Zero wander to window and notice that all the temples across Yavin 4 are now glowing brightly.
The next issue of Doctor Aphra will bring the ragged team a little closer to the truth behind the Jedi legend, potentially opening up a whole new chapter in Star Wars mythology and beyond – one not explored in canon thus far. Of course, Legends extensively (and contradictorily) delved into the history of the Massassi people of Yavin 4 and their enforced service to the Sith. Is it possible Disney and Marvel are about to legitimize some classic EU material or is Gillen creating a whole new lore of his own?
No matter how things shake out, incompetent or not, it won't take the Imperial forces long to discover the major new light source. If Aphra and her crew aren't careful, they might wind up in a holding cell, or worse, back in Darth Vader's clutches.
The latest chapter of Doctor Aphra not only lives up to Indiana Jones/Star Wars heritage, but scribe Gillen provides some interesting new (and perhaps ancient) insights into the galaxy far, far away, as well as Aphra and her damaged family life. Learning more about where she came continues to add depth to her character and better explains why she became the snarky, morally unsound adventurer Star Wars devotees have come to love.
Last issue, fans also learned that her childhood nickname is “Boop.” This time around, her father revealed her full name: Chelli Lona Aphra. It goes without saying that anyone who calls her by either her first or nickname – aside from dear old dad – won’t be around long enough to hear the last consonant resonate.
Doctor Aphra #3 is currently available online and in print.