Just a few days after announcing a May 27th return date for new single issues, Marvel Comics has released Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1 digitally, more than three weeks ahead of its availability in comic shops. The issue’s release coincides with Monday’s May 4th, otherwise known as Star Wars Day.
Of the five Marvel single issues slated for release on May 27th, Doctor Aphra #1 was arguably the most high-profile. Written by Alyssa Wong and illustrated by Marika Cresta and Rachelle Rosenberg, the new series is part of Marvel’s overall relaunch of the Star Wars titles, with new canonical stories set between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Aphra has been one of the breakout hits of Marvel’s Star Wars comics, having been introduced by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca in the first volume of the Darth Vader series. When that series ended, it was replaced by Aphra’s first solo series, which wrapped up at the end of 2019 along with the other Star Wars titles.
A digital release for Doctor Aphra #1 has been the subject of some ambiguity prior to this announcement. Back in the before times, right after Diamond announced they were ceasing shipment of new comics but before the first Wednesday without new comics arrived on April 1st, an early preview of the issue posted to starwars.com indicated the issue would be released digitally on 4/1 (the preview was quickly updated to say the issue was “coming soon”).
Digital release of single issues ahead of their release in comic shops has been a point of contention for direct market retailers fearful of losing their customers to the allure of instant gratification via digital comics. Initial plans by DC Comics to continue releasing titles digitally during the Diamond shutdown were reversed following vociferous retailer outcry. With the promise of new single issues on the horizon, it’ll be interesting to see how retailers react to Doctor Aphra‘s release, if at all.
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1 is available digitally now, and will be on sale in comic shops on May 27th.