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Here it is, the last chapter in Simon Spurrier’s Doctor Aphra run. It’s a love letter to the character he spent three years writing, through some excellent ups and a few mediocre downs. A Rogue’s End concludes on a high note, however, and one that convinces me that following this character has been worthwhile.
It ends where it began, but much worse.
Doctor Aphra is once more working under the Dark Lord of the Sith DARTH VADER* but this time is on the shortest of leashes, the only reason she’s still breathing due to her saving the life of Emperor PALPATINE**. The cover of the volume captures her precarious position with Vader perfectly:
How long can the fury of the angriest Sith in the galaxy be contained? The answer is in the question, and with that ticking clock at the back of every reader’s mind, there’s an undercurrent of tension which serves Mr. Spurrier very well indeed. Vader is his threatening self. I’m sure some might be unhappy with the resolution at display, but I quite liked the place he and Aphra ended up at. I’m sure that won’t come back to bite her in the face.
This volume sees the return of all the important people in Chelli Aphra’s life, from everyone’s favourite pair of homicidal droids, Trip and BT-1 to her old man, to the brutal wookie Krrsantan and in the third Aphra annual. Most important for many will be Magna Tolvan’s return; the contentious relationship between the two lover-nemeses (a term all too rare in Star Wars) comes to a head in typical fashion, where Aphra and ‘Sir’ are concerned — blood, betrayal, and banging. Look, I had to go all the way with the alliteration.
Seeing Aphra on board the Executioner offers several funny moments, from her interactions with Vulaada Klam (now working as Imperial cleaning staff and bunking with Chelli) to the spite her fellow archaeologists hold for her, to the off-hand comedic tasing she suffers from at the hands of an Imperial general whenever she lets her mouth get away from her.
But what Doctor Aphra is good at is interposing humour with questions of morality, loyalty, and the perennial selfishness of our title character. Her inability to do the decent thing has been well recorded, but the question whether she is capable of change, one way or the other, might just be answered.
The last issue proper in the run (though the third to last piece in the trade paperback) has some words of Aphra’s I particularly enjoyed:
Y’know, I spent a lot of my adult life kinda hot for discipline. The idea of it, I mean. Oh, not ust the Girls-in-uniform thing–although, sure, that.
But mostly–a galaxy like this? The jackboot always felt safer than the jungle. I guess it’s about time I admit I always made a little exception for myself.
Like–the tyrannical forces of brutally imposed order sure are impressive…
Just as long as they’re pointed at someone else.
As for the art, I’m not an enormous fan of Caspar Wijngaard’s art, but it is at the very least consistent. What I dislike most is the way he draws eyes — other than that, the line art is good enough; but Aphra’s eyes are so lifeless. And not just her — but then again, maybe it’s the fault of color artist Lee Loughridge for using simple, monochrome colours. I’ve been trying to figure out for a while what I find wrong with the art and it’s this — shame, that.
A Rogue’s End is a lot of fun — the whole of Spurrier’s Doctor Aphra run has been a blast for me, despite the dip in quality in the middle. I give you my hearty recommendation to check it out, and will be giving this a 4.5/5 score on Goodreads.
What’s next for the good Doctor? I’ll find out in January 2021, when the trade paperback of Alyssa Wong’s first volume comes out!
Until then, join me next week for another dose of Star Wars goodness!
*I wanted to sound a little like the opening crawl of a Star Wars movie, for a minute there.
**Read above. Also, this refers to the events of the previous volume.