The Worthiness of Being Called Canon in Star Wars: Doctor Aphra 8

by Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

When Disney acquired the rights to Star Wars, a decree was sent forth from the Magic Kingdom proclaiming that the extended universe portrayed in various books, comics, and TV shows is no longer canon. The reasoning behind this is clear. Disney will be making Star Wars stories until the end of time and they want the creative (see: commercial) freedom to write their own version of the Star Wars universe without conflicting accounts of what happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Whether this is a good idea or not, it places the impetus on Disney to faithfully convey stories from Star Wars, which can be problematic when issues like Doctor Aphra 8 feel out of joint with their source material.

This issue has all the calling cards of a typical Star Wars story — Luke swinging a lightsaber, Han being cocky, and all kind of action. However, there are moments when reading this issue that it becomes hard to tell if this is a Star Wars story or just something else entirely. Having been infected by a symbiotic bug thing, Luke enters into psychic battle with the Queen of the Screaming Citadel.

In case you’re confused by what’s going on here, Luke is projecting himself onto the astral plain and the spirit of a Jedi master encased in a magical crystal who died thousands of years ago is speaking to him about how to defeat the queen’s symbiote. While the story isn’t as muddled as that synopsis would lead you to believe, there is something going on here that is distinctly un-Star Wars-like. Perhaps it’s the psychic battle or maybe it’s the bug-like symbiotes, but there’s something in this scene that seems less like Star Wars canon and more like something else entirely.

A similar feeling emerges when Han — also infected by a symbiote — briefly becomes King of the Citadel when the Queen is vanquished by Luke. In a strange interaction with Sana, Han at first revels in the power of being king but then throws it away because he doesn’t want to give people orders. This overly simplistic response to his sudden power doesn’t sound like the Han Solo that we see on the big screen. Han basically treats Chewie like a slave so his dislike or giving people orders here just rings false. Such a basic misunderstanding of Han’s character begs the question if this officially sanctioned bit of the Star Wars universe is actually worthy of being canon.

This of course breaches the question of what makes Star Wars, Star Wars. I don’t have the answer to that question but one would hope that Disney would. If this issue if anything to go by, it seems like they don’t.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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