The War of the Bounty Hunters is well underway, and the storyline incorporates a number of the existing Star Wars comic lines as well as some brand new ones.
One of the already established comics that is joining this crossover event is the current Doctor Aphra series, written by Alyssa Wong. Doctor Aphra #10 serves as a prelude issue for the story, wrapping up some of the threads that it had been exploring and setting up a few new ones.
Even though this is pretty late, let’s jump in to a review of this issue!
Doctor Chelli Aphra has been hired by Domina Tagge to retrieve experimental hyperdrive tech, and she has enlisted the help of Sana Starros to do so. That’s brought them to Midarr, where the hyperdrive tech is located, but the planned ceremony is derailed by Vukorah and her Unbroken Clan taking the workers hostage. But Aphra and Sana have discovered that if the tech is activated, like Vukorah is demanding, it’ll blow up and kill everyone… and if it’s not activated, Vukorah will kill everyone. Aphra wants to run and save themselves, but Sana convinces her otherwise.
Aphra then marches out and reveals herself to Vukorah, saying that she is the only one who can fix the engine, since she’s not just a slicer but also an archaeologist, and since this engine is a replica of a Nihil path engine. As Vukorah continues to gun down engineers one by one, losing patience, Aphra gets to work. Meanwhile, Sana helps rescue some of the people and even enlists the help of Imperial stormtroopers to do so. Just when Vukorah loses patience with Aphra, the stormtroopers show up and the fight turns. Aphra quickly disarms the engine and gets away just before a massive explosion erupts. Aphra and Sana reunite and escape.
They report to Domina Tagge of the developments, but Tagge is upset about their failure since the engine was destroyed and traps Sana in a containment field. Aphra then offers Tagge the crystal core of the original Nihil path engine, and Domina lets Sana go. She decides to give Aphra and Sana another chance and gives them a new mission: to find Ebann Drake and figure out what “incredible opportunity” he supposedly has. Meanwhile, Tagge’s aide, Lapin, reports on his finding that there’s a mole in the Tagge Corporation, and that it’s a whole lot bigger than just them, as their competitors are dealing with the same thing.
While all of this happens, Just Lucky and Ariole are on Canto Bight, having just finished killing a bunch of enemies who ambushed them and tried to kill them. They conclude that it must have been a setup, and they find evidence that someone wants them dead as a way of sending a message to Wen Delphis and his Sixth Kin, whom they are working for. Delphis sends them on a new mission, off-world, in search of a former lieutenant, Crae, who will be attending an exclusive event.
As the final page of the issue shows, Aphra, Sana, Just Lucky, and Ariole are all getting involved in something… and someone else is coming, too: Durge.
From everything we can tell right now, at least, this issue seems like the least necessary to read in the whole War of the Bounty Hunters story, and it’s honestly kinda hard to track with how it’s factoring in the overall story at the moment. Basically, this issue was mostly about wrapping up the previous story threads, which is fine. But it’s just a very strange way to jump into the War of the Bounty Hunters story. I’m confident that there will be more information we learn in the coming issues that makes this one fit in a bit better… but right now I’m scratching my head a bit. I really think that this series would have greatly benefited from having this issue come right before the War of the Bounty Hunters prelude, so perhaps an extra issue would have helped. Oh well.
Basically, as is typical, Aphra and Sana get into some trouble and have to try to get out of it. I do like the reference to the Nihil, however! We know that they are able to maneuver and travel through hyperspace in a very unique way, using their paths, and we’re not exactly sure what happens to them, particularly as hyperspace travel expands. They’re obviously featuring heavily in the High Republic stories, and it’s really cool to see a Nihil path engine show up here. It’s a nice nod to those other stories and makes what could just be an otherwise ordinary piece of hyperspace tech tons more interesting.
As to how this all ties in with the War of the Bounty Hunters? Well, I’m not sure. But I do think that there are a couple of things being set up. Firstly, Domina Tagge says that the mole in their corporation is something that their competitors are dealing with as well, suggesting that it’s something bigger than just them. I’m guessing that this will come into play in this storyline, so perhaps the Tagge Corporation will come into focus a bit more as well. Secondly, the target that Aphra and Sana are going after, as well as the target Just Lucky and Ariole are going after, both seem to have been invited to an event on some yacht, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that winds up being directly tied in to this story as well.
But in my view, the most exciting tease about what is to come is in the very last panel, where we see Durge flying in his ship. He’s coming, and that’s really exciting.
Overall, though, this issue wasn’t quite as exciting. If you enjoy the Doctor Aphra series and are keeping up with the storylines then it’s worth reading, but if you’re just thinking about jumping in for the War of the Bounty Hunters stuff, this probably isn’t worth your time, based on what we know right now.