– Spoiler Review –
The Screaming Citadel crossover comes to a close in Part 5 – Doctor Aphra #8! While things don’t end as strong as they started, the finale delivers plenty of goods along its zany way, leaving the overall crossover as a memorable event and truly enjoyable experience.
Part 4 went to such crazy, insane, though thoroughly fun places with The Screaming Citadel’s gothic-horror set tale, it seemed pretty impossible for just one more issue to wrap everything up, and while Part 5 does just that, it feels a little rushed/too easy, thus ending the overall plot on a slightly less stronger note that its memorable beginning. That being said, it’s all about the journey, not the destination, and karabast has this been an enjoyable ride from start to finish. Even if things felt rushed, events unfolded as one would expect with this specific set of characters involved and the two main characters, Doctor Chelli Aphra and Luke Skywalker, learn some important lessons that will help them going forward.
After Aphra’s surprising decision to come back and help Luke, Sana, Leia, and Han (in the most Aphra way possible) escape the titular Citadel and its Queen despite already getting what she wanted (the crystal of Rur activated), she has to face the music her previous decisions already played. At least with Sana, Aphra no longer finds herself as the sole occupant of her ex’s hit list, and the two manage to part ways in as friendly of a manner as possible when it comes to scorned Sana. She imparts Aphra with a kiss on the cheek for her attempted heroics, but considers them meeting in the first place to be where it all went wrong. Considering Sana shot at Aphra point blank when they first saw each other this issue, they’ve come quite a long way from that moment and I’m happy to see Sana at least acknowledge Aphra’s rare selfless actions. On the flip side, it seems the dream team of worldly Aphra and naive Luke is breaking up, as Luke might appreciate Aphra’s last second help, but her selfish actions that led to such a drastic situation for him and his friends to be put in cause him to distance himself from her as quickly as possible. I’m sad to see their banter have to come to an end, as it was one of most entertaining aspects of the crossover, and it seems it might be a long time before we ever get a chance to see them encounter one another again. However, whether he meant to or not, Luke shares the lesson he learned with Aphra in hopes she might learn it as well: short cuts aren’t ever worth it. For a woman who as taken short cuts most of her life (like how she got her doctorate, for starters), this sage Jedi wisdom comes down harshly on Aphra, and despite her anger over his accusation/advice, I wouldn’t be surprised if she did take Luke’s words to heart going forward. She developed a soft spot for the kid, and doing what’s right, so it’s not impossible to assume she’ll make some type of change we’ll see in the series ahead.
Luke proves the inherit goodness inside of him is more than enough to make him a powerful Jedi one day, as he overcomes quite a bit with the symbiote and Rur to bring the conflict to a Jedi-like ending (but did it really end? More on that in a bit!). He was just as guilty as Aphra about trying to find a shortcut, with his quest to become a Jedi and the places to learn such teachings running pretty dry fueling his willingness to go along with Aphra in the first place, so it was great to see him learn the lesson he imparts on Aphra as well. However, his acknowledgment here that nothing worthwhile is easy kind of bites him in the rear when he gives up a bit while training with Yoda, but that’s neither here nor there.
I do appreciate how Leia feels a little bit more like herself his issue than she did under Kieron Gillen’s hands in Aphra #7 – TSC Part 3, as she lets up on the digs against Luke and immediately has faith the turn of the tide in their battle is due to him in some way, plus she has some fun lines with Han. However, Triple-Zero, BT-1, and Krrsantan don’t get a whole lot this issue, but then again they had the biggest highlights of the crossover in the previous issue so that’s quite forgivable here. Though I will say Triple-Zero’s remarks to Aphra at the end are decidedly on point, thus proving his true mastery over all forms of torture, including analysis one usually expects from a therapist.
Having Han essentially neutralize the symbiote threat because he’s Han Solo, thus still only admits he’s out for himself these days (with a little help from Leia and Sana) was a funny, though simple way to resolve the shenanigans going on with the creepy creatures. Because he doesn’t want the responsibility of controlling the hive, something he receives once the Queen engages Luke in a duel of the minds, he’s able to outwit (or out-dumb, depending on who you ask!) the symbiote controlling him, gaining control of himself and a good portion of the symbiotes, giving the rest of the main characters a fighting chance. While Han gets the symbiotes to release their victims after Luke defeats the Queen, and Aphra has Bee Tee burn the whole place down to sterilize it, this wouldn’t be a good gothic-horror inspired tale if the big bad monster might not be as dead as you think! In a pretty intriguing and delectable set-up, two citizens from the village surrounding the Screaming Citadel dig through its remains to find something they can use to start their new lives but uncover the Queen’s symbiote is still alive instead! It quickly takes over one of the citizens, with the name Skywalker fresh on its mind as it plans to escape to fight another day. I don’t see the new Queen crossing paths with Luke, Aphra, or any of our heroes anytime soon, but I love that the threat is out there, waiting to one day be possibly resolved again.
I thought I might like how Andrea Broccardo’s art had a more cartoony, comedic-vibe to it, but it not only felt tonally off from the gothic-horror theme of this tale, it also felt off from the rest of the art in previous issues and oddly enough seemed to be used on an issue with less laughs than the one before it. Antonio Fabela on colors allows it to keep some visual consistency with the Aphra series proper, as well as give a heavier hue to Broccardo’s lighter style, but it isn’t enough to make this feel like it truly belongs with the rest of TSC crossover as the other artists (Marco Checchetto, Salvador Larroca, and Edgar Delgado) were able to do.
Overall, I enjoyed The Screaming Citadel more than the previous crossover, Vader Down, but both have their inconsistencies and rushed ending feelings, which makes the margin between the two not very large.
Here are a few other things:
- Over at the official site, Amy Ratcliffe spoke with 4 fantastic Aphra cosplayers (three of which I was lucky enough to see at Celebration Orlando!) so head on over to see some great cosplay and hear fellow fans share their love for the character.
- Speaking of Aphra cosplayers, Bria from Tosche-Station (featured in the link above at the official site) was the first officially approved 501st Aphra cosplay! So if you’ve been looking for a guideline, look no further.
- Earlier in June, Kieron Gillen tweeted that he handed in an outline for the Aphra series’ second year, clarifying he’s treating every year like a TV season in case it needs to be the end point for the series. If fans keep showing their support by picking up the comic as it releases, there could be plenty of years ahead!
- Michael Pasquale has been putting out some stunning art, with tons of Star Wars pieces, and his latest one is of Triple-Zero! Check it out and give Pasquale a follow for more!
It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey and The Screaming Citadel was an enjoyable one at that, as Doctor Aphra #8 isn’t the strongest send-off, but has plenty of fun and plenty of lessons for our characters to take away from the zany events within. And one day, a symbiote might just strike again…muhahaha!
+ Fallout and repercussions for Aphra and her decisions, both good and bad (bonus for Sana making mostly nice)
+ Luke finding more of his Jedi center and coming away a little less naive/trusting
+ Friendship goals: be like Han, Luke, and Leia (and even Sana), as they came together to win the day
+ Symbiote lives to creep another day
– Feels a little rushed
– Art doesn’t fit that well with rest of crossover
STAR WARS CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
The Screaming Citadel (crossover of Doctor Aphra and Star Wars on-goings)
Part 1: The Screaming Citadel #1 | Part 2: Star Wars #31 | Part 3: Doctor Aphra #7 | Part 4: Star Wars #32
Skywalker Strikes (#1-6) | Old Ben’s Journals | Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon (#8-12) | Rebel Jail (#16-19) | The Last Flight of the Harbinger (#21-25) | Yoda’s Secret War (#26-30) | Annual: #1 | #2
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6) | The Gathering Storm (#7-13) | Legend Lost (#14 – 19)
Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith
The Chosen One (#1-6)
Vader (#1-6) | Shadows and Secrets (#7-12) | The Shu-Torun War (#16-19) | End of Games (#20-25) | Annual: #1
Vader Down (crossover of Star Wars and Darth Vader on-goings)
The Last Padawan (#1-6) | First Blood (#7-12)
Darth Maul (mini-series)
Han Solo (mini-series)
Rogue One (adaptation)
Obi-Wan & Anakin (mini-series)
Shattered Empire (mini-series)
Princess Leia (mini-series)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (mini-series)