In Review: Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel #1

Luke and Aphra make a fun team and they're bound to find plenty of trouble.

The covers: Five different frontpieces for you to scream about finding if you’re a hardcore SW fan. The Regular cover is by interior artist Marco Checchetto and it’s a beauty. Luke Skywalker, wearing his jacket from the end of Episode IV, has his lightsaber held ready as he accompanies Doctor Aphra through a green citadel, comprised of several statues and skulls. Gorgeous looking in every possible way. Print, poster, and tee shirt worthy. The first variant is by Rod Reis and it’s a completely different tone from the Regular cover. Luke is in the dark, visible only because his lightsaber’s blade is illuminating the room. He’s looking forward for any foes, unaware that behind him a frightening looking female is ready to grasp him. Good layout, though Luke looks a little wooden and the blade shaft looks like one of the toys sold in stores. Next up is Marco Checchetto’s cover which is a beautiful image of the Citadel from a distance, shown between two mountains with a lone armed figure looking upon it. The atmosphere is amazing. This is how Star Wars’ worlds should be introduced! Chris Samnee’s variant is an action illustration done old school style: Luke and Aphra are making their way via a rope on the side of a brick structure. Luke reaches down to grab the doctor, whose rope has just broken, just as a pair of giant green hands reach for her. Unbeknownst to him, another hand is using a short sword to cut Luke’s section of the rope. Very cool. The final variant is by Michael Walsh and it’s also strong. The logo for this book is in the center of the book, against a black silhouette of a floating platform. Below the device are snowy mountain tops, while above Luke stands ready with his saber to battle the six armored men running at him with batons. Great design work and the colors are awesome. I’ll have to find a copy of this for myself. Overall grades: Regular A+, Reis Variant B, Checchetto Variant A, Samnee Variant A, and Walsh Variant A+

The story: The first part of this tale opens on Horox III, in the Outer Rim. A padawan walks into a bar and is instantly picked on by two patrons. “Bad mistake. This isn’t a human bar. The sort of mistake you don’t walk away from. Crawl, maybe…” Luke tells the pair he’s not particularly worried about fighting them, given who he knows he has to fight eventually. Just as they’re about to spar, Aphra enters. “He’s with me.” Luke says her name, causing the twosome that are about to beat him, leave him to go to her. One of the aliens backhands her, with the other saying, “She’s the one who stole the Ur-Tharn processors.” The one that backhanded her reaches for a bottle and is about to bring it down on her head, until Luke smashes a stool on him. Kieron Gillen starts things strongly with this action opener and moves quickly into the plot, picking up from the last issue of Aprha’s own series and finding a perfect way to have this delightful deceiver team up with the future Jedi. Luke’s back and forth with Triple Zero is fun, as are his mentions of other Star Wars characters. The Screaming Citadel is an interesting location that could be — and hopefully will be — explored for quite a while. Beginning on Page 21, Luke and Aphra are in an interesting setting, full of several great characters. How the pair get a certain individual’s attention shows the naivete of Luke in spectacular fashion. Given the antagonist’s visage, it was surprising that Luke didn’t have a “very bad feeling about this.” Even a youthful farm boy would have reservations about this person. The final three pages of the book shows that this character does deserve to be looked at negatively, though she does seem to be out of Colin Wilson’s novel. Enjoyable, with some familiar elements. I’m eager to see where this is going. Overall grade: A-

The art: Marco Checchetto is the artist of this book and it’s incredible looking. The first page has no dialogue, establishing the setting and Luke’s entry into the establishment. The two aliens that want to fight Luke look good, though they do resemble the Zando-Zan from The Last Starfighter, but they worked as threats. Aphra’s entrance on 3 is fantastic. I love the slight differences between the second and third panel on the same page, showing how the aliens are more interested in beating the doctor than the Jedi. When the fight begins, Checchetto makes the panels irregularly shaped to emphasize the chaos. I love the details in the bottom of Page 4, with the stool’s pieces flying about. The reactions of the characters at the bottom of 5 are funny, yet appropriate. The device that has brought Aphra and Luke together is shown on Pages 8 and 9, and even without the luminescent coloring, Checchetto has placed it in the center of the majority of the panels, continually drawing the characters and the reader’s focus. Page 12 has an outstanding panel introducing the new setting and it’s a jaw dropper. Luke sports some new clothes on 20 and they are sure to be the talk on the Internet for years to come. The gala the pair are at on 21 is spectacular, with Luke mirroring the reader’s reaction undoubtedly. The antagonists are introduced and one had me thinking of Boston Brand every time he appeared; the color scheme of this character didn’t help, but given what occurs on the final pages, it was necessary. When Luke does something he shouldn’t on 26, Checchetto really gives the proceedings a great sense of motion. The final two pages show the reader the evil that’s being committed by the villains and it’s done with very little dialogue. These pages show that Checchetto can expertly tell a story, including giving it a strong tone, without words. Checchetto is a keeper for doing Star Wars visuals. Overall grade: A

The colors: The colors on this book definitely increase the tension and set the tone for Checchetto’s work. The opening greens increase the otherworldliness of the setting. The burnt orange used for the interiors of the bar give it a dirty feel. The interiors of Aphra’s ship have got a cool blue for the technology that’s used, but it’s the emerald emanating from the artifact that draws the reader’s attention in every panel. The stark blues and whites of hyperspace are terrific. The setting on 12 has got several glaring reds that foreshadow the evil that’s to be encountered later. The gala is draped in pale violets, using the classic color symbolic of royalty, but just a little off to suggest that not all is right. The villains wear bright crimson, and I was surprised that the colors didn’t provoke a reaction from Luke. Still, I’m liking what Andres Mossa is doing on this book. Overall grade: A-

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, droid speak, droid sounds, and Wookiee growls are VC’s Joe Caramagna’s contributions to this issue. The dialogue continues to be too frail looking, making yells seem weak, and there are no sounds to speak off, making the bar fight mute. I’m continually disappointed in the lettering on Star Wars books. Overall grade: B

The final line: This issue sets the stage for this series with promises of much to come. Luke and Aphra make a fun team and they’re bound to find plenty of trouble. The visuals are top notch, to be sure. I’m looking forward to the next issue. Overall grade: A-

To purchase a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Star-Wars-The-Screaming-Citadel-2017-1/digital-comic/494687?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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