SPOILER REVIEW: "Doctor Aphra #6: The Engine Job, Part I: Headhunted" by Alyssa Wong
A stellar issue to start off the new arc, "Headhunted" is super apropos for a title as you'll see below! "The Engine Job" refers to the new artifact Aphra's on the hunt for and it has a High Republic connection! There was one huge reveal/twist that left my head spinning and another that makes me super nervous. I am definitely excited for this new arc!
We start off with Aphra being held in an airlock by Just Lucky and a new guy on the scene named Kharrek who looks like a sentient praying-mantis. She has no idea what's going on (and neither does the reader because there's no indication until a couple pages later that this part is offset from the rest of the issue's timeline--it actually takes place in the middle of the rest of the action). Turns out she's being taken to Lady Domina's ship the Acquisitor and boy is Aphra nervous! But we all know she has some sort of trick up her sleeve!
Then we go back in time and learn that the Tagges have control of an entire portion of space, not sure how this jives with the Empire's existence but it appears to be a mutually beneficial arrangement. Our first glimpse of Lady Domina in this issue is her aboard the Acquisitor speaking with an underling, Lapin, as he lists off various groups that she has dealings with as she's watching multiple holonews screens. She's negotiating with the leaders of Arva Pars and has just had the rights to the Gortus 4 moon signed over to her (she plans on building an ore mining facility there immediately). This woman is in charge, powerful, and brutal!! For example, in regards to the D'Armin Syndicate, "Have a battleship cut them off at the Feriae Junction. Take out their engines and weapons. After a day, have them pushed into the sun." Yikes!!
Domina puts up a bounty for Doctor Aphra for 20,000 credits...for the death of her nephew Ronen...supposedly (although he was a vile and disgusting villain, I still think it's a bit disappointing he's already gone, but then again this Lady Domina seems to be a powerhouse that I'm crazy excited to get to see more of!). Syphacc, a man with a Lobot-type head implant who we've seen before in the current "Bounty Hunters" long-run series, puts out the call on this bounty to a myriad of hunters, including Valance!! Other bounty hunters after her are a human woman named Jepha, a Twi'lek named Uleen'arael, and the Hal'leth Quadruplets. Even Black Krrsantan is in on the game!! Poor Aphra...
Just as it appears Aphra might get away, Just Lucky swoops in with Kharrek (praying mantis dude) and with the use of a neurotoxin dart, captures the doomed archaeologist (bringing us up to the intro bit) and then takes her in to Lady Domina. Although Aphra appears to be nervous as all get out, she still plays the room in very typical Aphra fashion and even tells Domina that the penthouse explosion from last issue wasn't exactly an accident, but wasn't not an accident. Love it!
And WHAT?!? The tables get turned and a surprise comes barreling in that knocked me over!! Lady Domina says, "Blowing up my nephew isn't a motivation for revenge. It was a job interview, and you passed with flying colors." HA! Headhunter, indeed. Domina wants Aphra to steal a Path Engine from De'Rryuet Industries. It's of a Nihil design!!! So another connection to the High Republic!! This engine "holds the key to a long lost, incredibly fast method of lightspeed travel" that in Lady Domina's words "could completely change the Galactic economy...or end the war once and for all"--she wants neither as they could both be ruinous to the Tagge Dynasty. She wants Aphra to "find out what that device is, where it came from, and how it works." Aphra makes one request, to have someone along for the ride with her who hasn't backstabbed her lately. Who is that person??? ...Sana Starros?!?! Odd choice as we know their past is sordid, but I'm excited to see where this goes!!!
MY SCORE: 8/10 - This was a delightful issue with twists and turns that definitely left me surprised as all get out! And how can you go wrong with a powerhouse woman being thrown into the mix??
"Doctor Aphra #6: The Engine Job, Part I: Headhunted" written by Alyssa Wong, illustrated by Ray-Anthony Height, Robert Gill, Victor Olazaba, and Rachelle Rosenberg
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