The War of the Bounty Hunters continues, and Doctor Aphra and her comic line finally seems to be getting involved!
But in addition to that, Doctor Aphra #11 also introduces a familiar face and a fan-favorite back into the new canon: Durge makes his triumphant return!
Let’s dive in to a reivew of the latest issue of the Doctor Aphra series, written by Alyssa Wong!
Doctor Aphra and Sana Starros are sent by Domina Tagge in search of her lost cousin, Ebann Drake, who is an arms smuggler. We see him at the beginning of the issue speaking about an invitation that will change their fortunes, and then he begins to feast. Later, Aphra and Sana come upon his ship and board it, only to discover that everyone aboard is dead. Aphra has the sensation that something is there, but they press on and discover Ebann is dead as well. As Aphra investigates the gruesome scene, she also finds an invite in his hand: Crimson Dawn is back, and they’re selling Han Solo to the highest bidder.
This discovery is interrupted by the arrival of Durge, who is there to claim the bounty of Ebann Drake. Durge is upset to learn that Drake is already dead, and the three of them ponder who killed him… only to discover a horde of cymotes falling on them from the ceiling. The three of them fight off the alien creatures and try to escape. They find some cover in a room and seal the door, and Aphra lets the other two in on what’s going on. She’s seen these creatures before, identifying them as gruesome parasites, and says that they’re supposed to be “extremely extinct” and “notoriously hard to kill.” Durge insists that he can take care of them, as he is also hard to kill.
Aphra shares that the cymotes are very sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure, so the three come up with a plan: Durge will lure the cymotes to the airlock, where the group will jettison the parasites into space. Durge does his job, fighting off the swarms of these creatures as he leads them to the airlock, but Aphra betrays him, jettisoning him into space with the creatures. Aphra and Sana leave the ship, reflecting on the fact that Durge is extremely hard to kill.
They share news of Ebann’s death to Domina Tagge, but also inform her of the Crimson Dawn invite. Tagge instructs Aphra and Sana to go to the auction, but warns them that many dangerous people will be there. We get a montage seeing that Just Lucky and Ariole are going there, as are the Hutts, the Empire, and Black Sun – to name a few.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the previous issue in the Doctor Aphra line, in part because it really felt so loosely connected to the whole War of the Bounty Hunters story. Looking back on it, I see that it’s because it should never have been labeled as such. It’s not really connected, and this issue is actually the one that serves to turn the events of the Doctor Aphra series toward the War of the Bounty Hunters crossover. Aphra and Sana are now heading to the Crimson Dawn auction (as are Just Lucky and Ariole, but I’m not too enamored in their story to this point), and that will have all sorts of payoff to come, I’m sure – especially given Sana’s history with Han Solo.
On that note, I enjoyed the montage on the final page showing others who will be at the auction, as we see that among other people, Sly Moore and a Falleen will be there. Sly Moore obviously connects in a major way with what is happening in the Darth Vader series, and it’s interesting that it appears she will be the one representing the Empire at the auction. I guess we shouldn’t expect Vader to go waltzing into the party, as that would be a pretty dramatic turn that would disrupt a whole lot, so perhaps Sly Moore is the more diplomatic choice… but her motivations are sinister and duplicitous, it seems. And then seeing a Falleen male show up is interesting as well. The most recent issue of the main Star Wars line revealed that Black Sun was showing up, so in that sense this isn’t a surprise. But while this doesn’t look like Xizor, I wonder if we’ll see him show up in this story? That would be really cool.
Obviously the big focus of the issue, however, was on Durge. HE’S BACK! He was originally created for the Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars series as a very formidable bounty hunter, and we see that proven by the fact that Durge leads a squad of Separatist droids into battle against Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Durge winds up facing off against Kenobi in one-on-one combat. It quickly became apparent that Durge was very hard to kill, and we later learned more about that. His species could live for centuries, meaning that Durge fought in the ancient Sith wars and, quite a while later, fought in the Clone Wars – until he was ultimately killed.
We don’t know how much (if any) of that is still canon, particularly since it’s very clear that Durge was not killed when legends says he was, since this story takes place in-between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. But this issue does make mention of the fact that Durge is hard to kill, and I think that’s a nod to some of the other stories that have come before. Whether or not any of them are true, it is true that he’s really hard to kill, and so some of those other stories would still fit. It’s just really cool to see him back and made canon again, and I thought he was as tough and epic as ever in this issue. He’s brash and confident and not someone you’d want to mess with…
But Aphra decides to mess with him anyway. If you’re familiar at all with Aphra and these comics you probably weren’t at all surprised that she decided to betray Durge (that’s probably the least original decision that could be made with Aphra), and I also wasn’t surprised that Durge’s last appearance in the issue had him seemingly left for dead. That was probably a lot less obvious, but I assumed that Aphra would betray Durge, seem to get the upper hand, but that Durge would return – which all goes to show how tough and hard to kill he is. So things played out about as I expected, and I’m very confident we’ll be seeing Durge again soon. I don’t think they’d bring someone like Durge back to just have a one-off appearance like this, so I’m confident he’ll be factoring into the War of the Bounty Hunters story moving forward.
I can’t wait to see that, but I’m also curious as to what he’s been up to! How much of the Clone Wars stuff is still canon, if any? What’s he been up to since then? Has he been in hiding and forgotten about, much like Crimson Dawn? These are stories I’d love to hear more about.
Overall I enjoyed this issue tons more than the previous one. It was much easier to track with, actually tied into the War of the Bounty Hunters story, and introduced Durge again!