Chelli Lona Aphra is a character originally created to appear in Marvel’s comic adaptations of the the Star Wars universe. She was born during the time of the Clone Wars. Chelli’s parents embodied two different philosophies. Aphra’s unnamed father was devoted to his work with the Ordu Aspectu, a dissident branch of the Jedi Order, because he believed in dpoing so that both his family on a personal level and the galaxy on a grand scale would be protected. Her mother Lona was an idealist with roots in spiritualism. In the wake of Lona’s death, Mr Aphra returns to Chelli’s life, but it’s hardly warm fuzzies as Chelli’s doctorate is voided after her father reveals she has cheated in school. His motive in doing so was to force her help to fulfill his decades long obsession for proof of the Ordu Aspectu.
Flash forward. Chelli’s lack of accreditation doesn’t hinder her in the least from being an archeologist. It simply means she must on other methods and resources to obtain items by less than ethical means for clients which may possess dubious morals. This includes Aphra herself as illustrated in her effort to obtain the Triple Zero personality matrix from a secure museum storage vault on Quarantine World III. It is during this theft that she comes into contact with and to work for Darth Vader who sees her as key to pulling off a high stakes gambit whose goal is to restore his standing within the Empire. While Aphra feels she has little choice but to Vader, she is also genuinely grateful for being rescued and impressed by Vader and his reputation while also knowing her life is in his hands. Still, despite or because of this situation, Vader is someone with whom the archeologist can challenge wits. It is her shrewdness which prevents Vader from killing her when matters between them finally blow up. After the end of this relationship with Vader, Aphra later comes to find herself in a situation under the guise of partnering with Luke Skywalker. It’s simply another example of Aphra using people and circumstances as much to her advantage as possible. This time it is to gain entrance to an annual audience with the Queen of the Citadel of Ktath’atn. Skywalker allows himself to be taken in by Aphra’s promise of quick success in his search of Jedi knowledge. They’re a pair with contrasting philosophies. Luke is adamantly opposed to the Empire’s existence whereas Aphra can overlook its “imperfections” because it keeps people safe. Things go wildly off the rails, as these things tend to do, and Aphra appears to bolt with her now purloined artifact, leaving Luke, Leai, Han, and Sana Starros in a fight for their lives with the Queen and her forces. Everyone is surprised to find Aphra return and basically effect a rescue, showing proof that she does have a conscience at times. At other times not so much of one, for example when she ordered Triple Zero to kill Commodex Tahn in Darth Vader #10.
The Ark Angel is Aphra’s personal ship. Aphra has a penchant for surrounding herself with unsavory personalities. The Ark Angel crew, which consists of 0-0-0 (Triple Zero), BT-1, and Black Krrsantan, all fulfill this desire. The character is most often seen as a self serving reflection of Indiana Jones. I see similarities with another character who follows her own ambiguous moral code: Catwoman. As highlighted above, Aphra had a tragic and problematic childhood as did Selina. Each of the women survived their particular challenging circumstances solely due to their resolve.
Aphra first appears in Darth Vader #3 though issue #2 contains a mention to her in dialog. Aphra was in a relationship with Sana Starros and she has a passionate kiss with Captain (later lieutenant) Magna Tolvan in Dr Aphra #16. Aphra met and clashed with Tolvan when Aphra and her father recovered the Eternal Rur AI from the Great Temple on Yavin 4. A flirtatious demeanor with Luke Skywalker as seen in the Screaming Citadel story arc may indicate she is bisexual.
This profile is based on Aphra’s appearances in the Darth Vader hardcover collection (Darth Varder #1 – 12), The Screaming Citadel trade and volumes 1 and 2 of Doctor Aphra.
Art by Ashley Witter from the cover of Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #32.
Created by Kieron Gillen and Salvador LaRocca.
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