SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for “Doctor Aphra” #2, which is on sale now.
Earlier this month, the debut issue of Marvel’s latest Star Wars ongoing “Doctor Aphra” included a number of shout outs to character designs featured in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” The second issue from writer Kieron Gillen and artist Kev Walker moves well beyond its “Rogue One” connections and, surprisingly dives deep into Star Wars history while also cutting close to “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.”
“Doctor Aphra” #1 concluded with the titular morally ambiguous archaeologist discovering that her doctorate has been temporarily revoked. The bigger surprise? Her father is the person behind the suspension of her credentials. Issue #2 kicks off with a flashback 18 years in the past, as we learn that Aphra’s father enjoys chasing down archaeological finds just as much as she does. He enjoys it even more than being a father, too, as pre-teen Aphra catches up with her one-track-minded dad on one of his missions.
In the present, Aphra continues arguing with her father. She learns that he sabotaged her in order to blackmail her into helping him find an ancient Jedi order called the Ordu Aspectu. Judging by Aphra’s reaction, her father has been hunting after this legend for a long time.
Aphra’s colleagues BT-1, 0-0-0 and Black Krrsantan all chime in at this point, asking what the Ordu Aspectu are. At this prompt, Aphra’s dad gleefully tells them the tale. This tale takes presumably takes place “a long, long time ago,” making this myth potentially the furthest in the past that we’ve seen since the relaunch of the Star Wars expanded universe.
In the tale told by Doctor Aphra, evil Jedi descend upon the Ordu Aspectu Jedi collective in their fortress. The evil Jedi call the Ordu Aspectu’s quest for immortality heresy and attack them. As the battle turns towards those with red lightsabers, the Ordu Aspectu’s leader uses the Force to flip a switch that causes the fortress to blink out of existence.
But that’s not the only version of the tale. Aphra then tells her own version of the tale, one that flips who is good and who is evil.
In this version, the Ordu Aspectu are dark Jedi who have captured padawans. These evil Ordu Aspectu Jedi seek to sacrifice the padawans’ lives in a ritual that will guarantee them immortality. The good Jedi now invade the fortress, calling this act heresy. As the ritual overloads, the fortress blinks out of existence.
BT-1 also has his own take on it, one that puts him in the place of the fortress. 0-0-0 translates BT’s theory, simply saying “Beetee thinks there are many possibilities worth consideration.”
Aphra says the entire reading of the story hinges on grammar, and that her father has been “chasing mist.” But now Aphra’s father has discovered coordinates that tie in with the ancient Massassi, thus making him think the Ordu Aspectu have reappeared.
With the coordinates, Aphra agrees to follow her father on this mission. The crew travels to the coordinates — arriving at the fourth moon of Yavin. Yavin 4 is, of course, the location of the Rebellion’s headquarters, as seen in both “A New Hope” and “Rogue One.” The issue concludes with Aphra’s crew landing on the presumably unoccupied moon, only to find that it’s very much occupied… with Imperials.
This is a big moment because up until now, we haven’t seen what happened to the temples on Yavin 4 after the Rebellion vacated them. Following the destruction of the Death Star, the Rebellion abandoned their base on Yavin 4 (as depicted in Marvel’s “Princess Leia” limited series). We now know, thanks to this reveal, that the Empire did track down their headquarters on Yavin 4.
The mention of the Massassi earlier in the issue also indicates that we might learn more about the ancient civilization that initially built those temples on Yavin 4 thousands of years ago. So far all that’s known of the Massassi in current canon was revealed by the “Ultimate Star Wars” guidebook. In the previous expanded universe, the history of the Massassi was greatly explored in Dark Horse’s “Tales of the Jedi” comics. It looks like “Doctor Aphra” may reveal the new canon behind the Massassi and the temples on Yavin 4 as part of its opening arc.
“Doctor Aphra” #3 arrives in stores on January 18, 2017.
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