It’s the Penultimate issue of the Screaming Citadel crossover between Star Wars and Doctor Aphra. In the previous issue of this gothic horror inspired story, Luke and Han were both captured by the Queen of the citadel, under some sort of mind controlling power. A bunch of aliens infected with a hive-mind parasite are attacking the others. Things are getting pretty intense, and the previous issue ended with no clear path of escape for the rebels forced to team up with Aphra, who formerly worked for Darth Vader.
Star Wars 32, written by Jason Aaron, starts with Aphra’s infected Wookie friend tearing his way through the Queen’s soldiers. It turns out that Wookies are very resistant to the parasite, but it causes them to go nuts. Meanwhile, the Queen connected Luke to some sort of machinery that allows her to drink from his life energy, in exchange for safely activating the Rur artifact that Doctor Aphra found in her first story arc. The Rur artifact is an ancient Jedi consciousness that seems to take over technology and attack everything if it’s fully activated. In other words, this story arc is pretty dark. Despite all the weird stuff going on, it still feels like it belongs in the Star Wars Universe. It’s quite possible that this artifact could help Luke get in touch with the force, something he’s been struggling with for the entirety of this series. The characters all feel like themselves – at least those who aren’t being affected by the Queen, and Aphra’s inner conflict is very compelling when the writing dives into it toward the end. There’s not too much else to say about this issue without spoiling it.
The art by Salvador Larroca is utterly fantastic. Right from the opening page of an enraged Wookie attacking the Queen’s army, with rain splashing all over, everything is well-detailed. The glow from the murderous robot Triple Zero’s eyes looks realistic in the dark nighttime. The queen’s chambers are big and fancy looking, with a bit of a culty design. There are moments when characters’ faces almost look real, especially during closeups, and facial expressions perfectly convey characters’ emotions. The colouring by Edgar Delgado is equally fantastic. Light appears to reflect off everything realistically, whether it’s the shiny armour of the soldiers or the Wookie’s hair, right down to strands of hair reflecting light individually. The moment where Aphra talks to Rur is particularly brilliant, with everything glowing green and the light centered on the crystal, reflecting off of Aphra’s face.
This is a fun crossover so far. It’s fairly dark and intense, but balanced out with the same kind of humour as the original trilogy. It still feels like a Star Wars story, with the same level of creepiness as Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi. It feels like this story will affect both Aaron’s “Star Wars” series and Kieron Gillen’s “Doctor Aphra” going forward, and that’s how crossovers are supposed to work. Marvel’s been doing a really good job with the Star Wars comics so far, and this crossover is a good place to start.