Review by Jamie McNeil
Everything went wrong for rogue archaeologist Doctor Chelli Aphra in Remastered. Now she’s on Accresker Jail, eighty tons of wrecked starships held together with an attractor node and pulled along by a star cruiser. Prisoners on Accresker are press-ganged into the Imperial Penal Legion, expendable soldiers used to scuttle damaged Rebel ships. It’s dangerous, but at least she’s safe and far away from her enemies under a new alias. Does she plan on staying put? Hell no! But when a ghostly figure foils an escape, things get much worse. She reaches out to an old friend for help, but living selfishly for thrills and credits has made Aphra a lot of enemies who tend to hold grudges. In life its true that friends can become enemies and lovers can become haters, but you should never tick off Rebel Generals, impatient Imperial prison officers or killer droids.
Si Spurrier has big shoes to fill taking over Doctor Aphra from her creator Kieron Gillen but wastes no time making his mark on the series. An inventive intro within an engaging setting hooks from the start, new developments snaking out at every turn. His Aphra is a woman realising that she might not be the good person she thinks she is. Is she really just a victim of her circumstances as she claims? Or does she enjoy the influence she wields over anyone involved with her? It’s an interesting dilemma that won’t be resolved in one book, but does present tantalising options for the future. Kev Walker and Marc Deering are back on art duties, this time proving they are definitely worthy of their spot on Star Wars. They craft a fantastic setting out of Accresker, etching oodles of detail into the snarled up metal. The cast is well illustrated with good expressions, though this tails off towards the end, the faces becoming slightly unfocused. Robots and battles are brilliant with plenty of huge explosions, though the sheer amount of detail can be overwhelming. The whole story provides ample opportunity for rendering grand spectacle and Walker and Deering definitely deliver.
Throughout The Catastrophe Con there’s a palpable sense that Spurrier is only getting started, taking his time to build up his own interpretation of Aphra. It could be a little frustrating for readers who’ve followed Aphra since her Darth Vader days, but it is a wise move. By the conclusion Spurrier has constructed a nice little plot device that opens so many exciting possibilities for Doctor Aphra going forward. Will Spurrier be able to deliver? We’ll have to find out in the fifth volume, Worst Among Equals.