In Review: Star Wars #31

"The Screaming Citadel" shows the Star Wars characters at their finest. Recommended.

The covers: A trio to find for this book, if the Force is with you. The Regular cover is quite a beauty from Marco Checchetto. In the foreground, at the bottom of the illustration, are several medical cylinders containing horrific looking aliens curled up in bubbling cherry colored liquid. Doctor Aphra is down low to the canisters, looking at the reader. Behind her is Luke Skywalker, looking to his left with lightsaber ignited for action. Bringing up the rear is Han Solo, with his iconic pistol held up, ready to due battle with something he spies to his lower right. Unseen threats seem to surround this trio, with the creatures below contained, for now. Great visuals and excellent coloring, with the reds dominating. The Star Wars 40th Anniversary cover is by the immensely talented Kevin Nowlan and features one of the most quoted scenes from the original film. Three stormtroopers surround Luke’s landspeeder, but Obi-Wan is waving them off, saying, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” The point of view is good, the characters look great, and the coloring excellent. Definitely one worth adding to your collection. The final cover is the Action Figure Variant cover by John Tyler Christopher. This is a faux Kenner action figure cover focusing on Luke Skywalker: Bespin Fatigues. The figure even has the actual hands that the toys had back then and the portrait accompanying the figure is from The Empire Strikes Back when Luke turns to face Vader just before they battle. I’m a huge Luke fan, I love this movie, so I picked up the last copy of this variant from my local comic book store. Overall grades: Regular A, Star Wars 40th Anniversary Tour A, and Action Figure Variant A+

The story: The second chapter of “The Screaming Citadel” by Jason Aaron opens at the Rebel Temporary Outpost on Horox III. Sana is telling Han that it’s no coincidence that Doctor Aphra has kidnapped Luke on the same day, once a year, the queen of Ktath’athn sees visitors for their most interesting organic oddities. Han’s not thrilled to encountner Aphra again, but Leia tells him they have to rescue Luke. Chewbacca gets left behind as the trio leave on the Millennium Falcon. Meanwhile, at the Screaming Citadel, a Lord Hossferin demands to be allowed in to see the queen, even though she’s no longer receiving visitors. His demands don’t go well for him or his attaches. The individual who deals with them, Bombinax (which is a terrific name!), looks in upon a captive and states that tomorrow will be “big” for that individual. As this is occurring, Luke and Aphra are making their way to eat with the queen, with Luke being uneasy, while Aphra sees the woman as a means to activate the device she has stolen. Needless to say, dinner does not go as planned. This is the first real introduction to the queen’s character and she just oozes evil. What she does to test the legitimacy of Luke’s standing is very cool. Aphra tries to be the wheeler dealer during dinner, but she’s woefully over her head. Page 13 adds a neat complication to the meal, and things go from bad to worse on 16. 17 has the heroes on the run, with the antagonist learning the hard way that it won’t be so easy to get what she wants. The droids Triple Zero and BeeTee-One make an appearance on 19, revealing on 20 who their next prey is. Aaron has really increased the tension with this issue, with their being different levels of peril for every character. This is the way Star Wars should be written. Overall grade: A

The art: Salvador Larroca is an outstanding artist and a perfectly suited artist for Star Wars. The first page shows that he’s more than capable of creating settings that are familiar, yet alien, which is how Star Wars should be perceived. He also is able to capture the characters’ likenesses extraordinarily; his Han is Harrison Ford, his Leia is Carrie Fisher, and Luke is Mark Hamill. The Millennium Falcon looks gorgeous, both its exterior and interior are picture perfect. When the ship launches at the bottom of Page 3 it looks grand. The character shown in the final panel on 6 generates a tremendous amount of sympathy, but heaven knows he deserves none for all that he’s done in previous SW outings. Luke and Aphra’s trek to dinner is epic due to the settings they move through; things begin medievally with the first two panels on 7, but become elegant with the final panel. The curtains on 8 have a wonderful sense of motion, creating a breeze for their journey that comes off like something from a Hammer horror film. The table set for the pair is absolutely sumptuous. The queen looks amazing, with the close-up of her on 9 a stunner. Her wide open stare would make anyone shrink before her. A character has some really nice movement on 12, with her creeping up on Luke. Topping this is Aphra’s secretive action on 13, which is preceded by a fantastic smile. I cheered aloud for the action that occurs on 15 and was silenced by the shock of 16. These creations are fantastic horrors. 17 also has a tremendous sense of motion, with the after effects wonderfully detailed. The top of 19 is a virtual What’s What in the Star Wars Universe and I hope that Larroca gets to draw more of these individuals. The final page is a full-paged splash revealing who the deadly droids are looking to kill and they are fantastic. I especially like the emotion on each characters’ face. Larroca is a Star Wars illustrating god. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The first panel alerts the reader that an alien world is being shown due to the light green sky. The colors on the characters’ faces are wonderfully colored, making it seem as if one is looking upon lost footage from one of the films — I mean, c’mon, check out Luke at the bottom of Page 8. The bright lights that emit from the queen’s men is excellent, being both threatening and spooky. Edgar Delgado is doing a bang-up job on this book. The use of red for the curtains on 8 are an outstanding lead in to the reveal on 9, which is sinister in reds and oranges. Having the queen’s face be pasty white calls to mind that of the Emperor from Episode VI. The colors used for the critters on 16 are grotesque and perfection. Again, Delgado is outstanding. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Clayton Cowles of VC creates the text for this issue which includes scene settings, dialogue, a Wookiee roar, droid sounds, a scream, a yell, and Triple Zero’s speech. I love all the sounds and yells, but the dialogue is weak looking; so much so, it underwhelms when the font should be stronger for tense situations. Overall grade: A-

The final line: “The Screaming Citadel” shows the Star Wars characters at their finest. Watching Luke use the Force and run from villains was enough to win me over, but having Han and Leia in the mix only increases the joy. An incredibly enjoyable Star Wars outing. Recommended. Overall grade: A

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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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