WARNING: The following contains spoilers from Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #16, on sale now from Marvel Comics.
Star Wars’ Sith enhanced their power in the Force by using their emotions – their fear and anger – and combining them with a will to dominate everything and everyone. For untold years, members of the Sith waged countless wars against the Jedi Order, but the Star Wars: Doctor Aphra comic series recently introduced another group that neither the Sith, nor the Jedi, could stand. Although there was little more than a name-drop in the last issue, Doctor Aphra #16 (by Alyssa Wong, Minkyu Jung, Rachelle Rosenberg and VC’s Joe Caramagna) finally gave some details on the Ascendant.
The War of the Bounty Hunters is finally over, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some after effects. During the war, Domina Tagge – the head of the Tagge Corporation – sent Dr. Aphra and Sana Starros to Crimson Dawn’s auction to spy on the resurgent, criminal syndicate. Aphra did her job and stole a Black-Sun-turned-Crimson-Dawn operative’s data necklace, but that wasn’t all that Aphra did. While aboard the Vermillon, Aphra also encountered an ancient piece of evil technology called a thought dowser.
Aphra found the thought dowser while on the run from Crimson Dawn guards and assassins, so she activated it to allow for her and Starros’ escape. The technology worked for Aphra as their pursuers started to stab themselves, but the thought dowser also harmed Aphra, causing her to crumble under the wight of its awful power. Now, in Doctor Aphra #16, Domina Tagge wanted an explanation on the Ascendant and its fancy tech.
Aphra explained to Tagge that the Ascendant were an ancient cult of non-Force users who were “obsessed with malevolent technology and replicating the effects of the Force.” In fact, the mind-bending thought dowser wasn’t only one of the pieces of fancy tech that the Ascendant created in the depths of the past. However, when Domina inquired further, Aphra clarified that, unlike the remaining Jedi and Sith, the Ascendant were completely wiped out centuries earlier by real Force-users: “Kill the competition and all that.”
For that matter, Aphra didn’t rule out the possibility that the Jedi and Sith could have made a temporary coalition to destroy the Ascendant. While they were sworn enemies, the Jedi and the Sith did have one thing in common; both Orders were extremely exclusivist. So, when a cult came around trying to replicate the Force, they might have both taken a “personal interest in the Ascendant’s extinction.” That would make for a very interesting bit of history that could be explored in future issues.
Either way, it seems like this is far from the last mention of the Ascendant cult because Domina Tagge seemingly seems to have taken a personal interest in their technology. As the issue ended, she sent Aphra and Starros to find out more about the thought dowsers. So, Aphra went to a Tase Somar for more information, but when they arrived, they saw an odd sight. There were multiple severed arms in a circle, with the after affects of someone having used a different thought dowser. Then, a mysterious, hooded figure emerged from the shadows. Maybe it was Tase Somar, or maybe it will be someone more sinister. Perhaps they’ll even have ties to the ancient Ascendant.
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #17 will release on December 22.
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