WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Doctor Aphra #1 by Alyssa Wong, Marika Cresta, Rachelle Rosenberg, and VC’s Joe Caramagna, available now digitally.
In celebration of Star Wars Day, Marvel digitally released the first issue of its new Star Wars series, Doctor Aphra, a few weeks before it arrives in comic book stores. Although the intergalactic archaeologist is no longer working for Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra #1 wastes no time in giving her a new mission and her next big score: the Rings of Vaale.
Once thought only to be a myth, Aphra is now in a fierce race to find these mythical artifacts, which are just as valuable as they are powerful.
This issue picks up after the Battle of Hoth, with the Rebels on the run from the Galactic Empire. Aphra has been searching for any sorts of scraps or artifacts on the planet to make some credits, even falling in with a battalion of stormtroopers. A hasty escape from Hoth nabbed her some money to pay her new crew before the next big opportunity fell into her lap at a cantina. The past year has been rough on Aphra, with money not being easy to come by and losing most of her major companions. Any sort of work would be good enough to help her get by. A student, Detta Yao, who was in attendance at a guest lecture that Aphra hosted, came to her about retrieving the Rings of Vaale.
The crew accepted and they went to meet up with another one of Aphra’s scorned former colleagues, Eustacia Okka. It’s revealed that Ronen Tagge, a rich treasure hunter, is also in pursuit of these rings and will stop at nothing to obtain them.
Detta Yao is writing her doctorate dissertation on the Rings of Vaale. The rings grant their wearer eternal life and boundless fortune when worn together, if the legends are to be believed. With the ability to bring fortune and eternity, these artifacts could be priceless to any buyer. Their existence had only ever been rumored before now, but Yao has found the clues to finding them. She hasn’t convinced the Shadow University that these rings exist, but if she were to find them they’d be the discovery of the century.
However, every story about the Rings claims that they are cursed. Each legend about them mentions a haunted city made of living stone and an ancient sect that is dedicated to guarding them. As with seemingly all ultra-powerful rings in fiction, these Rings are said to corrupt the wearer with its power. Beyond that, the Rings corrupt everything around it, including natural elements like the air and planets themselves. Aphra brushes all of this off because every powerful object is said to be cursed as a first-line defense system from people looking to take it. It isn’t enough to sway her from going after them.
Before Eustacia was expelled from the Shadow University, she found a planet called Dianth, in the Malitoris system, where the city may be. A few people have returned from the planet but not unscathed. Eustacia says that people who did return had gone mad, and they shared stories of horrors of seeing and taking part in unspeakable acts.
Even all of this information doesn’t sway Aphra from taking the mission. She talks about how in all of her adventures and near brushes with death that the biggest danger out there is other real people. And Tagge, who is also after the Rings as well, seems to live up to that warning by sending his armada after the artifacts with no regard for any lives he must take to get what he wants. The collector takes pleasure in destroying rare artifacts and priceless objects, but there’s no telling what kind of trouble he could cause if he gets his hands on those Rings.
Introducing a set of rings like the Rings of Vaale could really cause a stir in a galaxy that’s already at war. With Aphra and crew after the rings, there could be a chance to stop a tyrant like Tagge from gaining more power.
Marvel's new Doctor Aphra series introduces a new and powerful set of artifacts that could be the most coveted items in the Star Wars universe.