A recent Star Wars comic introduced a new weapon that just might be on the same level as the legendary lightsaber.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers from Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #17, on sale now from Marvel Comics.
When the first lightsabers made their debuts in A New Hope, they quickly became the defining feature of the franchise. The elegant and powerful weapons identified Jedi or Sith and denoted Force-users’ untold power. For the longest time, they were the pinnacle of Star Wars weaponry, but the newest Doctor Aphra comic introduced a new weapon that jut might be in the same league as the legendary lightsaber.
The last few issues have been exploring an extinct Dark Side cult called the Ascendant. Unlike the Sith, though, it was non-Force users who joined Ascendant and, in times untold, developed technology that replicated the Dark Side. The latest issue — Doctor Aphra #17, by Alyssa Wong, Minkyu Jung, Rachelle Rosenberg and VC’s Joe Caramagna – introduced one of the Ascendant’s ancient weapons – the Whip of Sorrows.
After Aphra and Sana Starros encountered the power of a thought dowser, Domina Tagge sent the two of them to look for more Ascendant tech in Doctor Aphra #16. That issue ended as Aphra found her contact dead, as a mysterious, cloaked figure emerged from the shadows, holding what looked like a lightsaber. Despite some Luke Skywalker theories, it wasn’t the young Jedi, and the figure wasn’t holding a lightsaber after all.
Doctor Aphra #17 opened by introducing the cloaked figure as the non-binary Kho Phon Farrus. Aphra already knew them and knew how they spent their life pretending to be a Sith. Since Farrus had the technology that Aphra and Starros wanted, they all spent most of the issue fighting. However, Farrus’ Ascendant technology gave them a huge Force-like advantage. Along with her thought dowser and magnetized-fingernail-claw-things, Farrus also had a weapon called the Whip of Sorrows.
Jedi and Sith weapons went through a few different phases as technology improved over the millennia. Starting as Force-imbued swords, it wasn’t long before energy weapons started to be popular. At that point, protosabers — which were essentially lightsabers with power cords and a battery pack — became the standard weapons. Eventually, the traditional lightsaber became the only weapon that a Force-user would use. There was such a thing as a light whip, but it was essentially just a flexible lightsaber. The Whip of Sorrows, on the other hand, made some improvements.
Since it was used by non-Force users, the Whip of Sorrows wasn’t powered by a kyber crystal, but it still had energy running through it. Like a lightsaber, it could absorb energy, but it could also disable things. At one point, Sana Starros tried to shoot her blaster, the whip had drained all of its power, leaving Starros totally defenseless. The thing that really set the Whip of Sorrows apart, though, was that it could release its captive energy. Later in the fight, Farrus wrapped the whip around Aphra and released the full power of a blaster bolt into Aphra’s arm. In fact, Farrus was genuinely surprised when they saw that Aphra’s arm was still attached.
Maybe the best way to describe the whip’s affects would be by comparing it to the Black Panther’s Vibranium suit. It absorbed attacks and rereleased that kinetic energy back at its opponents. The Whip of Sorrows did the exact same thing with energy-based attacks. Thus, while a lightsaber was impressive, the Whip of Sorrows put that same power in the hands of a non-Force user.
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