Marvel Announces Ongoing Doctor Aphra Series Coming This December
THE GALAXY’S FAVORITE (AND SHADIEST) ARCHAEOLOGIST GOES SOLO, AND WRITER KIERON GILLEN TELLS STARWARS.COM WHAT WE CAN EXPECT.
It was pretty clear from issue #1 that Marvel’s Darth Vader, written by Kieron Gillen, was going to be something special. The tone just felt right. The plot, in which Vader looks to regain his standing in the Empire and ascend higher, was beyond compelling and true to the character. It was the former Anakin Skywalker discovering secrets of his past, battling cyborg rancors and slaughtering Sand People, and fully embracing hate to save himself. It was sad, powerful, and…fun.
Actually, it was very fun — a quality that really came courtesy of Doctor Aphra, a (mostly) morally bankrupt, in-over-her-head archaeologist created by Gillen, and her merry band of droid and Wookiee psychopaths. Aphra, helping Vader in his under-the-Emperor’s-radar schemes, became not just a fan favorite, but a breakout star of the series. And when fans and critics talk about why Darth Vader — which ends with today’s issue #25 — is special, Aphra factors into the equation heavily.
So, spoiler warning if you haven’t read Darth Vader #25: Doctor Aphra survives the series, and StarWars.com is excited to announce that she’s getting her own ongoing series, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, penned by Gillen and illustrated by Kevin Walker. The first issue lands December 7, and StarWars.com called Gillen to talk about how he figured out Aphra could live, why we like her so much, and what the new series is all about.
StarWars.com: I just read Vader #25. I loved it, I loved the whole series.
Kieron Gillen: Awesome. It was a lot of fun to do.
StarWars.com: The first thing I wanted to ask about was Aphra’s survival. I’m wondering if fans’ embrace of her changed your plans. Did you ever intend for her to die at the end of the series?
Kieron Gillen: For a longer time than I think people would realize, I was pretty sure she was going to die. It wasn’t actually anything to do with the fans’ response, it was just kind of the fundamental Darth Vader of it. You know what I mean? The biggest problem with the book was, I had all these characters I genuinely liked, and I made the mistake of putting them in the room with Darth Vader and they tended to not survive that experience. Aphra’s [in a] push and pull and whatever, and there was a point where I just kind of literally clicked, and I realized, “Oh my God, she could survive.” [Laughs] As in, I know how she can get out of it. That was, of course, the ending we did. For quite awhile, I thought it was just going to be Vader throwing her into space. I had literally the whole thing played exactly the same until the after-credits reveal. That was how I thought it was going to end.
You know, there’s all sorts of interesting things between the two of them, like she sells him out, but she doesn’t completely sell him out [when she goes to the Emperor]. [Laughs] What she actually ends up doing in terms of cementing his reputation, even.
The moment I realized, “Wait wait wait, all the way back in issue #8, we’ve done this blowing-someone-into-space routine. That’s how she’s going to save herself,” [was great]. When I actually wrote that scene, I’m 100 percent sure I didn’t know I was going to use that to save her at the end. But at the same time, I think at some subconscious level, I must have been aware of it. It set up far too well, otherwise. [Laughs] But yeah, that was a moment of joy when I realized Aphra was going to live.
StarWars.com: The other big news — the first being that she actually lived — is that Aphra is getting her own series. I think people are going to be really excited about the prospects of an Aphra title. As her creator, how do you feel?
Kieron Gillen: Enormously excited. It’s Marvel’s first ongoing starring an original character not from the movies. There’s so much to like about Star Wars, I sort of sit back and say, “Oh, I should be more freaked out than I am.” [Laughs] The story I always tell is, Empire Strikes Back was the first movie I saw in the cinema. So essentially, me writing the lead-in to my own entry into pop culture [with Darth Vader], that should be some existential crisis. In actual fact, it’s been joyous and freeing and actually, incredibly good fun. In the same way as this, but with a weird level of pressure upon it as a character who’s been a big part of this story. But you know, she’s not like, somebody in the movies. She’s not somebody with a built-in fanbase. The idea of doing something like that, oh yeah, that’s certainly intimidating…but I like intimidating. It keeps it fun.
StarWars.com: What can you tell us about the story?
Kieron Gillen: [Laughs] Um… Basically, it picks up kind of where, if Darth Vader ever finds out Aphra survived, she’s dead again. So she’s living in hiding. She’s trying to get back to her life of archaeology and she’s dealing with the fact that she has enormous debts. She owes Black Krrsantan, the Wookiee, enormous amounts of money, so she has to try to pay him off, but the bigger problem is that she promised to help locate the people who trained and tortured him. She is trying to deal with the droids [Triple Zero and Beetee], and the droids are a ticking-time bomb, shall we say. In the last series, Vader obviously was the big threat you were meant to be scared of, and the droids become increasingly serious. [Laughs]
The entire interview with Kieron Gillen can be read on StarWars.com.