Doctor Aphra 21 Highlights The User and The Used

by Michael DeLaney

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

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I have been constantly struggling with my feelings in regards to the titular Doctor Aphra. Under writer Simon Spurrier, Aphra has become a more Deadpoolian character than she might have been before: riding the line between amusing and despicable. Dastardly villain or loveable rogue? Still uncertain. However Star Wars: Doctor Aphra 21 makes one thing clear: Aphra will do anything to survive. Continue reading

Misplaced Trust in Coda 2

by Drew Baumgartner

Coda 2

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

There’s a scene in Coda 1 where our protagonist hesitates to smell the wine he’s just been handed — he knows his host too well to trust them. It’s a revealing moment that also cleverly sets up a spiked wine gag a few pages later, driving home the point that nobody in this world can be trusted, least of all the characters we know. And it’s a point Simon Spurrier and Matías Bergara reemphasize towards the start of this issue, revealing their glowing wizard’s tower to be little more than a dank cave. The protagonist’s senses may be as difficult to fool as ever, but now we have to know not to trust our own eyes. And yet, the rest of the issue lulls us into putting our guards down, allowing us to believe we’ve found a refuge from the violence and deceit of the outside world. Which makes it all the more shocking when we learn all of those assumptions were bad, and that there really is no honesty left in this world. Continue reading

Conscience as a Bug and as a Feature in Coda 1

by Mark Mitchell

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

There’s little point in being nice to people unless the act of being kind itself brings you happiness. Rude people are not unhappy — not categorically, anyway — because they don’t care that they’re rude, and there’s an undeniable freedom in not caring. Having a conscience is arguably a bug as well as a feature, since it’s easier to achieve your goals if you don’t care about the people you hurt in your pursuit of them.

In Simon Spurrier and Matias Bergara’s Coda 1, former bard Hum is determined to rescue his wife from a clan of savage orc-like creatures at the cost of everything and everyone else; as the issue closes he’s willing to potentially sacrifice the population of an entire city if it gets him one step closer to her. But it’s clear that Hum’s selfishness can’t last, and Coda is poised to be a series about one man in a terrible situation learning to put others above himself. Continue reading

Aphra Faces Her Reflection in Star Wars: Doctor Aphra 19

By Michael DeLaney

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

It’s often said that “villains are the heroes of their own story.” The most compelling villains are the ones that have a motivation behind their menace other than being evil. There is a gray area between “hero of their own story” and evil maniac however — a place that Doctor Aphra has resided in ever since Kieron Gillen created her. Star Wars: Doctor Aphra 19 suggests that despite her coy demeanor, Aphra might not be so morally ambivalent after all. Continue reading

The Deadpoolian Doctor of Star Wars: Doctor Aphra 18

by Michael DeLaney

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

The relevance of the antihero has risen and fallen numerous times over the past couple of decades. With the mainstream introduction of Deadpool, we have a new mold that mashes antihero with that of lovable scoundrel. Since her arrival, Doctor Aphra has been more of the lovable scoundrel type, but with Star Wars Doctor Aphra 18, Kieron Gillen, Simon Spurrier, and Emilio Laiso lead her into Deadpool territory. Continue reading

Sticking Close to the Source Material in Labyrinth Coronation 2

By Mark Mitchell

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

In this site’s Best Writers of 2017 list, we praised Simon Spurrier as one of the best — if not the best — world-builders in comics today. So it’s not that Labyrinth Chronicles 2 is bad or boring or otherwise deficient, it’s just that it feels like a waste of Spurrier’s considerable talents. At this point, the world of Labyrinth Chronicles is defined by the movie on which it’s based, and even though there is some opportunity for invention (The Owl King and Sir Skubbin are original creations), Spurrier seems boxed in by the creative choices of a film made over 30 years ago. Continue reading

War, Religion, and Slavery in Angelic 6

by Spencer Irwin


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

Angelic 6 is a massive issue. Writer Simon Spurrier recalls every seed of plot he’s planted throughout this arc, and artist Caspar Wijngaard brings the mass of ideas to life in a way that’s big and exciting, chaotic but never hard to follow. Even as the issue’s plot goes big, though, Spurrier and Wijngaard zoom in thematically, finding the one idea that connects the themes of religion, war, and blind faith that have run throughout this entire series. That theme, of course, is slavery. Continue reading

Doctor Aphra 16 Finally Lets Aphra’s Queer Flag Fly

by Mark Mitchell

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

Hey, what’dya know, actual queer people in Star Wars. Continue reading

Motherlands 1: Discussion

by Mark Mitchell and Spencer Irwin

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

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Mark: I grew up in a fairly regimented househould. That’s not a complaint, it instilled a lot of (to my mind) positive values in me, but it did definitely affect my worldview. My parents are deeply religious, and accordingly, their religion guides them to seek out things that have redeeming value. Growing up, this translated into strong feelings on what is and is not appropriate. To give you an example of where the line lay: The Simpsons? Not appropriate. When I reached a more rebellious age I began to watch, when I could, things I knew my parents didn’t approve of, but usually with one hand on the channel changer in case they happened to walk into the room. Of course, as I’ve grown older, I’ve determined for myself where the boundaries of good taste are tread, but from birth, a sense of good old fashioned Puritanical Shame has been instilled in me, and occasionally my palms still get a little sweaty when reading a smutty comic, like my parents are going to walk in on me at any moment.

Simon Spurrier and Rachael Stott’s Motherlands 1 is smut — it’s shrill and pornographic and grotesquely violent — but it’s principled smut. Continue reading

Angelic 5 Reveals the Origins of the Universe

by Mark Mitchell


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

There’s a unique gut-punch to finding out you’ve been lied to, a pit-in-the-stomach loss of faith in the person or institution that betrayed you. After four issues of laying the groundwork, Simon Spurrier and Caspar Wijngaard reveal the origins of Angelic’s world in Angelic 5. There have been enough hints throughout the previous issues that nothing here comes as too much of a surprise to readers, but watching Qora and Complainer learn the truth about their origin is still hard. Continue reading