In Review: Star Wars #32

Overly familiar story elements and mixed visuals make this a middling installment for "The Screaming Citadel."

The covers: A foursome to find for this fourth installment of “The Screaming Citadel.” Marco Checchetto is the artist for the Regular cover. The giant head of Bombinax is in the back left, with a bust shot shot of Han Solo to his left, his iconic pistol held upright. Below the pair are Luke and Bombinax dueling. A clue to this issue might be found in the color of the Corellian’s eyes. Decent cover, but hard to find a focus with this color scheme. On the Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant cover two stormtroopers look skyward as the Millennium Falcon tears out of Docking Bay 94 from Mos Eisley on Tatooine. This classic scene from Episode IV looks gorgeous from artist Will Robson and colorist Jordan Boyd. I love the perspective on this and the colors are beautiful. John Tyler Christopher’s incredible artwork is featured on the Action Figure Variant cover, focusing on FX-7 (Medical Droid). The image on the faux Kenner card is great and the toy itself looks just like the figure that was produced, I should know — I still have this figure. The Mile High Comics Variant, which connects to previous Mile High Variants in this story, is by Mike Mayhew and features a unique focus — Black Krrsantan. He’s under the influence of one of the symbiotes that Triple Zero attached to him at the end of the last issue. He’s on the tips of his toes, roaring in the pain. Behind him is a massive planet in the sky, with lightning striking behind him. A trio of Star Destroyers are flying in front of the book’s title, while down at the bottom several symbiotes move about. Creepy cover that would have benefited from stronger colors. Overall grades: Regular B, Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant A, Action Figure Variant A+, and Mile High Comics Variant C+

The story: In the first five panels of this book, Krrsantan makes short work of the individual who confronted him at the end of the last chapter in this saga. He’s had a symbiote attached to him by Triple Zero to power him up, which it has, but it’s also made him into an uncontrollable killer. 0-0-0- has a surprising reaction to seeing the Wookiee in action, but the creature doesn’t care. Controlling itself, the droid tells the hairy beast, “The Citadel! Many tasty, fleshy, symbiote-enhanced morsels await you inside the Screaming Citadel!” Leia, Sana Starros, and the two murder droids follow the Wookiee inside, past the bodies he leaves in his wake. Meanwhile, Doctor Aphra gets what she wanted for turning Luke over to the Queen of Ktath’atn. This issue, written by Jason Aaron, is all over the place. Luke is being used like a young person from Torchwood: Children of Earth, Han reenacts Indiana Jones from The Temple of Doom, and Aphra goes Prince Zuko from Book 3 of Avatar. There’s a lot of overly familiar conflicts and actions in this issue. Do they work? Somewhat. For someone who’s into other popular shows and films besides Star Wars, this will seem like “been there, done that” storytelling. If a reader is unfamiliar with some or any of the shows/films I’ve mentioned, you’ll have no problem with these actions. The final page of the book had me giggling, and I shouldn’t have been. It was silly. Could Aaron still end this well? Absolutely. This penultimate chapter is just not working. Overall grade: C-

The art: The visuals on this issue look good because Salvador Larroca is doing them. Krrsantan’s battle starts with three close-ups of the Wookiee beating his foe, though the third one is a little difficult to make out. Pulling in close to the action usually makes the action intense, as the reader is right in the thick of things, but it takes a while to make sense of this panel. Thankfully, the fourth panel is easy to make out, with the top panel on Page 2 immediately understood. The second panel is fine, but the posture of the character reminded me of a character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Much better is the stare down at the top of 3 — that’s just awesome. The fifth page introduces the reader to the most elegant and disturbing setting of the issue. The design of this location screams royalty, and the arrival of the Queen makes perfect sense. About the Queen, she looks good, but she seemed much shorter in this issue than from previous appearances and much younger. Anyhoo, the character introduced on 6 looks great and is in one of the most frightening positions he’s ever been drawn in. The third panel on that page is disturbing without having anything in it be violent; this is a terrific design work by Larroca. The inclusion of another character on 9 will definitely up a reader’s discomfort, with the second panel on the page being upsetting, and the final panel on the page gorgeous — it’s wrong for the character, but perfectly right for this tale. When Han is shown on Page 11 his face is incredibly detailed, but what he’s wearing, and those around him, look incredibly simplistic. Better are the Aphra pages on 13 and 14, with a lovely panel of her on that last page. Pages 17 and 18 had me screaming at the determination of the protagonist and that individual’s actions. The Queen is absolutely monstrous looking on 18, with her and the hero having an very cool flaw in their images. The final page is the only full-paged splash of the issue, with the character looking great, but the situation that’s occurring is taking all the power from the image. Even with a few speed bumps, Larroca’s Star Wars issues are ones to pick up. Overall grade: B-

The colors: The colors on this book by Edgar Delgado look amazing. The issue starts outside, at night, in a downpour. There’s every reason for Delgado to really blacken this opening, but instead he cheats and makes the skies a blue and gray, allowing the reader to see every element of the art. I really liked that he colored Krrsantan’s roars in a bright red, making his utterances cut through the rain. The Queen’s quarters are beautiful in orange, allowing her crimson colored costume to meld into the setting. The character introduced on 6 stands out well because of his hair and jacket, while the item that Aphra has stands out in a soft green. The reds used at the bottom of 9 are outstanding, making that panel the best of the issue. The characters that have lights in their helmets nicely glow in a realistic way, and the choice of colors make them wonderfully sinister. Greens are used for a sweet supernatural effect on 13 and 14. The final page of the book has a nice mist effect from the colors and the shade of the character’s eyes are a nice tip off for readers to worry. Excellent job on this issue by Delgado. Overall grade: A

The letters: Wookiee roars, screams, yells, dialogue, droid speech, and BeeTee’s bleeps are created by VC’s Clayton Cowles. The dialogue continues to look too svelt for these characters, especially in action scenes. Case in point, look at the how the scream on 9 retains the font of the previous dialogue, but the balloon that contains it had to be pointy. This shape wouldn’t have been needed had Cowles chosen to go with a different font for the dialogue or for the scream. Continuing in the same font required that balloon to be changed to make up for the weak design of the text. There’s also a very noticeable lack of sounds during the action sequences, which has been happening in the Star Wars books since Marvel got them back. Everything else that Cowles is doing is fine, but those two nicks against the lettering really stand out. Overall grade: B-

The final line: Many overly familiar story elements and mixed visuals make this a middling installment for “The Screaming Citadel.” I’m hoping that this saga concludes in better fashion. Overall grade: C+

To purchase a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Star-Wars-2015-32/digital-comic/503490?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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