WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Doctor Aphra #1 by Alyssa Wong, Marika Cresta, Rachelle Rosenberg, and VC’s Joe Caramagna, available now digitally.
Normally, a treasure hunter collects priceless artifacts to display or sell, but Doctor Aphra’s newest treasure-seeking foe has something more sinister in mind. In Doctor Aphra #1, Ronen Tagge is hot on the heels of Aphra and crew in search of the mysterious Rings of Vaale. The Rings are said to bring their bearer riches and eternal life which makes them a priceless tool if everything said about them is true. However, the only issue with Ronen’s pursuit is that he isn’t a normal collector. He takes pride in destroying things that are one of a kind.
In this issue, Doctor Aphra’s crew has been recruited to help Detta Yao, a student writing her doctorate dissertation on the Rings of Vaale. The rings are only spoken of in legend without much credence so much that most people don’t believe they exist. Their first stop on the journey for the rings leads them straight into a confrontation with Tagge’s hired guns. A battle takes place between the two groups before Aphra’s group escapes. Tagge’s crew returns to let him know what took place. As it turns out, Tagge has an old debt to settle with Aphra and her crew, so he sends his fleet after them.
Ronen’s family, the Tagges, are one of the wealthiest families throughout the Empire, and they have the influence and reach to match their fortune. With these privileges, Ronen himself has always gotten everything he wanted. From how Aphra and her friends describe him, he is the epitome of a spoiled rich kid. But when he tires of something instead of throwing it out, he kills it. Aphra, who has worked with the Sith Lord Darth Vader, thinks that Ronen is too unsavory to work with, which is really saying something.
When we meet Ronen, he is looking at two art pieces whose artists stand behind him. One piece of art is a beautiful painting and the other is a sculpture which he is holding. Each piece cost him an enormous amount of money and is considered to be the best work from both of the renowned artists. He brought both of the artists to him to ask them which piece was superior. Each of the artists pleads almost a groveling nature that the other’s is the true work of perfection. Their words don’t mean much to him ,because he incinerates both. It isn’t about having the art to him, it’s about being the last one to ever have it.
Something inside Ronen drives him to want control over these things, and his rush comes from destroying irreplaceable things. For him, it’s not merely enough to have things of beauty; he must ensure that no one else can ever have those things. It’s the ultimate expression of control over the world around him, and he flexes his muscles of control by making those two artists watch the destruction of things they created just because he deems it so.
This driving force behind his want of the Rings of Vaale makes him being able to obtain them much more dangerous. A normal villain would use the rings to take control of the galaxy, but Ronen might not stop there. Unless he really just wants to destroy the Rings, a Ronen with eternal life would destroy as much as he could just so he could be the one to do it. Simply having the beauty of the universe at his fingertips wouldn’t be enough. Tagge may like nothing more than to watch galactic life vanish as he chokes the life from it, which means that this could be the most important treasure hunt of Doctor Aphra’s life.
Marvel's Doctor Aphra #1 brings a new villain into the Star Wars Universe, and he's every collector's absolute worst nightmare.