Last week’s Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel 1 kicked off this crossover between Jason Aaron’s main Star Wars comic series and Kieron Gillen’s Doctor Aphra series. It was a fantastic gothic horror inspired story with a lot of great dialogue, some of the best art I’ve seen in a while and a spooky atmosphere that still fits with the Star Wars Universe.
Written by Jason Aaron, Star Wars 31 continues the story perfectly. The opening shows Han, Leia and Sana figuring out that Luke’s disappearance and Aphra’s message coincide with the Queen of Ktath’atn, who runs The Screaming Citadel. Luke and Aphra’s interactions continue to be fun, with Aphra’s personality very different from Luke’s despite their somewhat similar backgrounds. The way how Aphra finds his good nature endlessly entertaining is great. The scene where they meet up with the queen is particularly fun, with Aphra doing most of the talking while Luke tries to demonstrate his abilities in the force. This scene ends up revealing at least part of what makes the queen such a dangerous threat.
The fun nature helps balance out the otherwise creepy story. The queen tends to control people through these mind altering bugs that even the Empire considers too dangerous to quarantine. The dinner scene, while entertaining, gets pretty tense when the queen all but announces her intentions. When Luke can’t tap into the force right away, the queen decides to add some extra motivation. There isn’t a lot of action in this issue – it’s more of intensifying the setup and building toward what will likely be an epic climax. It’ll be interesting to see how effective of a team Aphra and Luke can be when their lives depend on working together.
The art by Salvador Larroca is great. The opening page at the temporary rebel outpost shows a number of tents with different wrinkles, and a detailed rocky background. The detail continues throughout the issue, with external looks at the citadel that enhances the creepy mood, a large, circular staircase leading to the main tower, and fancy yet creepy decorations at the queen’s dinner table. The faces often look real and just like their movie counterparts. Expressions also convey emotions well, like Han’s clear suspicion when Sana’s explaining what she’s figured out, Luke’s nervous look when the queen asks him to demonstrate his force ability, and Aphra’s fear when a bunch of mind controlled freaks block their path. Edgar Delgado’s colouring is also great. There’s just the right amount of red in the queen’s chamber to look both fancy and intensify the mood, and the shading looks very realistic throughout the comic.
From a writing standpoint, both this and Superman 23 are thematically intense and mysterious. They’re both fantastic comics. What separates them is that Star Wars 31’s art is brilliant from cover to cover, making this an easy choice as my favourite comic of the week. The tense atmosphere is balanced out with good humour, and despite the horror influences, it still feels like a Star Wars story. Star Wars fans should be reading this series, and this crossover is a good place to start.