A year or two ago, there was a crossover between the main Star Wars comic series and Darth Vader’s solo series. Since then, Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader’s series concluded as intended with issue 25. He’s since kicked off Doctor Aphra, a solo series about a side character who debuted in Darth Vader. Doctor Aphra is basically a somewhat amoral archeologist and AI expert, and she’s quite possibly the best new Star Wars character outside of the movies. And now we’re getting a new crossover between Jason Aaron’s Star Wars and Doctor Aphra’s solo series, called The Screaming Citadel. This issue kicks the crossover off.
Written by Gillen, The Screaming Citadel 1 begins at a bar in the Outer Rim. It’s nowhere nearly as dangerous as Tatooine, but they still don’t appreciate a human like Luke showing up. Just before he’s attacked, Doctor Aphra shows up along with her wookie friend, Black Krrsantan. Right away, you can tell how little Luke trusts Aphra, but he’s willing to listen as soon as she mentions a possible Jedi master.
This entire comic is atmospheric build-up for the story as a whole, and it works very well. The interactions between Luke and Aphra, while civil, plays out their personalities in the best way. Luke clearly doesn’t trust Aphra, but he knows he needs a lot of help with the force and he’s trying to be nice. Aphra finds his good nature endlessly entertaining and often teases him. Triple-zero is entertainingly sadistic as always. But the real tension comes from the Screaming Citadel itself. There’s something mysterious and creepy about the entire situation, which becomes far creepier at the end of the comic.
The art by Marco Checchetto is by far the best art I’ve seen so far this month. Every single panel has plenty of detail in something. To get specific with the details throughout the comic would take up half a dozen paragraphs at least. Facial expression and body language both do a fantastic job at showcasing characters and expressing emotions, like Doctor Aphra confidently leaning against the entrance at the bar and her frequent smiles, while Luke is more subdued with his poses due to his nerves, and the surprised look in his eyes when he successfully pushes someone with the force really sells it. Andres Mossa’s colouring is also fantastic. The entire comic is very colourful, with lighting and shadows that look realistic more often than not, and the overall red shading toward the end that emphasizes the creepy nature of the Citadel. In other words, all the art in the comic pretty much looks as good as the cover does.
Marvel might be having problems with their main universe comics right now, with perhaps too many legacy heroes taking over for the originals at once and some of the flagship titles not selling so well (and for good reasons in many cases), but their Star Wars comics are doing extremely well. Both the main Star Wars series and Doctor Aphra are well worth reading on their own. If this issue and the previous crossover is any indication, than The Screaming Citadel should be a pure joy to read. If you’re a Star Wars fan who hasn’t checked out Marvel’s Star Wars comics, you really should, and this is an excellent place to start.