The new Star Wars ongoing coming from Marvel Comics beginning in December was revealed Wednesday as Star Wars: Doctor Aphra. This would be the first Marvel Star Wars title to headline a character originating from the comic book line, as Aphra was created by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca for the recently-conluded Darth Vader title.
"The most interesting thing about what we’re doing with Aphra next is, she was designed to be Darth Vader’s foil," said Gillen, who is working on Doctor Aphra with artist Kev Walker. "You know, she has to do a lot of the talking when Darth Vader doesn’t. Darth Vader will not make jokes. [Laughs] To be even a fun book to read, you need her to lighten it. But when you introduce her as a lead, that kind of changes the dynamic entirely. A) she becomes slightly more serious, and B) everyone else around her becomes a lot more deadly, as well."
Doctor Aphra picks up right after this week's Darth Vader #25 where -- SPOILERS AHEAD -- Vader attempted to kill Aphra by throwing her out an airlock.
"Basically, it picks up kind of where, if Darth Vader ever finds out Aphra survived, she’s dead again," said Gillen. "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."
Although Darth Vader had some significant delays with its final issue, Gillen said in September that the book, then unnannounced, was already well underway.
"UNANNOUNCED MARVEL THING - Two issues written. Inks arriving for the first issue, which are an utter delight," Gillen said on Tumblr. "I think people will love it. It’s an ongoing."
Aphra was recruited by Darth Vader after the Battle of Yavin in an effort to acquire a personal army of battle droids outside the auspices of the Empire. She's frequently seen with her droids Triple Zero and BT-8.
In addition to Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1's primary cover by Kamome Shirahama, variants will be illustrated by Jamie McKelvie, Elsa Charretier, Rod Reis, Salvadore Larroca, John Tyler Christopher, Annie Wu, Declan Shalvey, and Dave Dorman.
Aphra isn't the only prominent orginal character the Marvel Star Wars comic books have introduced. Sana Solo, the previously-unknown first wife of Han Solo, debuted in Jason Aaron and John Cassaday's Star Wars #6. Variety reported recently that Lucasfilm is casting for an unspecified female co-lead for the upcoming Han Solo prequel movie, with Tessa Thompson, Zoe Kravitz, and Naomi Scott all reportedly in the running. Given that all three are black actresses like the Sana Solo character, there has been some speculation that the role is for this comic book-originated character.
Marvel and Lucasfilm have made it clear the Marvel Comics are consider canon in the Star Wars universe, meaning Sana and Doctor Aphra exist in the movie universe. Whether fans every see them on screen remains to be seen.
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1 is scheduled to debut December 7.