Doctor Aphra and Star Wars Comics Star in Marvel’s The Screaming Citadel Crossover

The Screaming Citadel AnnouncementWhen I first saw the announcement, I thought it was a joke, as The Screaming Citadel sounds like something out of a campy horror B-movie. Thankfully it wasn’t though, as it sounds like Marvel’s next crossover (the first being Vader Down) looks to embrace the title’s tone and give us a gothic-horror story set in the Star Wars universe. Even better, it’s a crossover of the mainline Star Wars series with my absolute favorite comic character to date, Doctor Aphra! Check out some choice details below to find out what awaits you dear comic reader when the crossover begins this May. UPDATE: Marco Checchetto, who will have artist duties on the one-shot start to the crossover, shares some new character designs, so check that out below too!

Kieron Gillen (Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra) and Jason Aaron (Star Wars) sat down with the official site to break the news about The Screaming Citadel, which begins after Aphra’s archaeologically-filled first arc wraps up (with issue #6) and the Star Wars series’ “Yoda’s Secret War” comes to a close (with issue #30). The Screaming Citadel (TSC for short) kicks-off with a one-shot issue and then dives into the two series to tell the remainder of the story. While neither writer could give anything specifically away about story, besides it being more a spin-off from Aphra than SW, they could say it involves Luke Skywalker and Doctor Chelli Aphra, “…venturing into a very dark and scary situation on a faraway alien planet and winding up in the clutches of a sinister alien queen. There’s symbiotes involved,” and eventually the rest of the main cast from the respective books come to play, as well as, “…several new villains.” Already, TSC sounds like it’ll fix some of the problems with the Vader Down crossover back in 2015 (between Star Wars and Darth Vader), which felt more like one giant extended action sequence with barely any plot spread thinly over several issues. TSC by comparison sounds like it’ll have a much smaller story focus and it’ll be heavy on the plot, as its characters are looking to work together instead of just find entertaining ways to blow each other up like in VD i.e. character-driven story rather than plot-driven smash up. Likewise, the SW mainline series has, at least to me, suffering since the 20th issue, where it’s been introducing ineffectual villains, had a tone-deaf moment that shows maybe there is too much Han and Leia pre-The Empire Strikes Back flirting, and so far hasn’t quite enthralled with Yoda’s adventure; so while a crossover doesn’t fix these things, it does allow the SW series to develop some of its characters in little ways, with the biggest one with room to grow being its only regular original character: Sana Starros.

If you’ve visited the Manor before now, you might have noticed I’m quite the Doctor Aphra fan and have celebrated her rise to a starring role in an on-going series as often as I can, so the moment I heard what her series would crossover with I only thought of one thing: Sana. In the pages of the Star Wars series’ last great arc, “Rebel {Women Kick Ass in} Jail,” we learned an interesting fact about Sana and Aphra: they not only knew each other very well in the past, but at one point they had been a couple; This has never been officially confirmed, but it’s not hard to read into the dialogue the two shared in their scenes together and not come away with said conclusion. They didn’t leave things off in a good place, as Aphra tried to apologize for her actions that broke them up and Sana nearly choked her to death anyways, so them being together again is going to be contentious, to say the least. But to anyone who has doubts about their past together, I think we’ll have a lot of that put to rest, because as Kieron Gillen puts it,

“This is such an enormous story for Aphra and Sana. We alluded to their history a little before, and now it’s the chance to say, ‘Okay, we’re going to put them together and make them really interact in a more extended way.’ They’re very much part of the emotional arc of the whole thing…”

This is fantastic news, especially with how inclusively minded focusing on such an aspect of this character really is, considering it’s simply not common (especially in Marvel series, but it’s slowly getting better). Diving into more Sana and Aphra was one of my top reasons to be excited for her series and I’m surprised but thankful it’s already happening by the second arc.

While only a little less excitingly than Sana and Aphra, Luke and the rogue archaeologist having to work together could prove quite entertaining as well, which Gillen notes,

“It’s like, writing the entirety of the first issue is hilarious. [Laughs] They have such different life experiences. You know, she’s a little older than he is, he’s still naive and she’s a cynical monster. And they go back and forth and they tease each other and, occasionally, they push each other’s buttons. But there’s an underlying similarity. They’ve both lost their families. They’ve both had completely different responses to the horror of the Star Wars universe, the big tragedy, and the push and pull of that is very much the heart of the book. But really, it’s just funny. It’s just fundamentally funny to see them go at each other. “

Credit: Marvel

As for art, Marco Checchetto (Shattered Empire, Obi-Wan & Anakin) will be at the helm for The Screaming Citadel‘s opening one-shot and then be on main cover duty for each issue in the 5 issue crossover; if you haven’t seen his art before, I think he’ll be able to deliver the spooks in spades to get readers ready for the tale of TSC that follows due to his somewhat haunting, stark style. For the Star Wars issues in the crossover, Salvador Larroca and Edgar Delgado stay on, meaning we’ll get to see Doctor Chelli Aphra again drawn by the crew that brought her to life (sounds Frankenstein-ion, when you think about it) and anyone who’s read my reviews of their work in the past will know they are my favorite pair to work on the comics to date. As for Doctor Aphra‘s issues, Antonio Fabela will return on colors, but Andrea Broccardo will join for art instead of Kev Walker, though I am unsure if this means Walker is done with Aphra or just for this crossover event. Broccardo worked on the excellent Kanan #12, where he brought fans of Rae Sloane the first visual representation of her character and overall his work definitely impressed.

UPDATE 2/23/17: Over at Marvel’s site, Checchetto talked a bit about how he came up with the designs for the new characters like Bombinax, Vespinax, and The Queen herself, among others. I have to say, they look wickedly awesome and right up Checchetto wheelhouse, so it’ll be interesting to see the other artists have their go at this uniquely designed new characters and environment.

Look, I was there the moment they said Doctor Aphra, but from what they teased so far about The Screaming Citadel, I believe we’ll have not only an excellent crossover ahead (definitely better than Vader Down), but it’ll result in dense and important individual tales in a grander gothic-horror story I’m excited to see tackle with a Star Wars twist.

UPDATE 5/10/17: The Screaming Citadel #1 is out and damn is this even better than I expected/hoped!

Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth. You can follow the website @MynockManor.

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Doctor Aphra
Aphra (#1-6) | And the Enormous Profit (#9-14)
The Screaming Citadel (crossover of Doctor Aphra and Star Wars on-goings)
Star Wars
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) | Out Among the Stars (#33-37) | Annual: #1 | #2
Poe Dameron
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6) | The Gathering Storm (#7-13) | Legend Lost (#14 – 16) | War Stories (#17-19)
Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith
The Chosen One (#1-6)
Darth Vader
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)
Lando (mini-series)
Chewbacca (mini-series)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (mini-series)

One-Shots: C-3PO | Cassian & K-2SO