Review: Star Wars #38

It’s a brand new day for the main Star Wars book as Kieron Gillen slides in to take the reins and I’m like 99% sure that all of my favorites are going to die because I spent all my Gillen Good Luck on keeping Aphra alive. Just like he’s been doing over in Doctor Aphra, Gillen is already working with the events of Rogue One as our heroes venture over to Jedha. Needless to say, things aren’t doing great there in the wake of the Death Star and the Empire is trying to mine whatever kyber crystals it can from the ruins. The Rebels arrive looking for the remains of Saw’s Partisans while the Empire brings in a specialist to try and solve its mining issues. Things are likely not going to go very well for either of them very soon. Shocker, right?

While Jason Aaron’s run was solidly good, Gillen’s new angle for the book can only be a good thing for the series. He’s not a stranger to our core crew, having written them during the two crossovers, but seeing his take on the heroes for once will undoubtedly be fun. There’s already been a tie in to his Vader series that was unexpected yet incredibly welcome.

On the other hand… the art on this book continues to be an exercise in frustration for me. I like Larroca’s style well enough but the moment the faces jarringly slide into photorealism, I’m not a fan. There are at least several panels where the faces clash so much with the rest of the art that they almost look pasted in.

A few assorted thoughts:

  • No really. That Vader character has me grinning from ear to ear
  • Will the Dreamers be brought up? Why did the Dreamers and this group split?
  • Ubin Des has the potential to be a really neat character
  • Will the Guardians of the Whills just die out as an order now that there is no temple to guard? If so, that’s incredibly sad.

All in all, a good start to a new era of Star Wars comics. It’s most definitely a good place to jump onboard if you haven’t already.

Star Wars #38: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Guru e-FX/Colorist, Clayton Cowles/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra Annual #1

It’s funny how comics work sometimes. I never knew that I wanted Black Krrsantan’s backstory until I read this issue. The first Doctor Aphra Annual actually takes us back in time not only to a certain wookiee’s origin but also to the time between Screaming Citadel and the start of the current auction arc. There’s definitely something to be said for the self-contained story because this? Was pretty darn fun.

Honestly, there isn’t really anything that I didn’t like about this issue. Kieron Gillen puts a neat twist on the typical tragic wookiee backstory and Aphra even gets to use Black Krrsantan’s story to her advantage as he tells his tale to two very interested journalists. (They send their stories out on the Undervine and don’t mess around with the Holonet and its Imperial censors.) It’s obviously Krrsantan’s time to shine but Aphra definitely gets to have some fun along the way too.

I also have to say that I absolutely adored the art by Marc Leming (with an assist from Will Sliney) with colors by Jordan Boyd. There’s something just so great about his style and everything about how the characters looked made me feel like he really got the Star Wars aesthetic. Aphra not only gets another awesome new jacket but everything about the journalists’ looks just feels cool. (And is that Bail Organa’s influence I detect in one of those capes?) They look like Star Wars characters but have distinct styles which isn’t something that every Star Wars artist has been able to pull off.

Like a good Annual should, Doctor Aphra Annual #1 is a fun story that can standalone and is a good taste for hesitant readers into the sorts of hijinks and jobs that Aphra’s team tends to pull. (Just, you know, usually with more focus on Aphra.)

Doctor Aphra Annual #1: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Marc Laming/Artist, Will Sliney/Artist, Jordan Boyd/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Editor, Jordan D. White/Supervising Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra #11

LISTEN MARVEL. We’re going to get to the talking about the comic in a bit but I have a complaint to register as an Aphra cosplayer. You guys are KILLING ME with these rad outfits you put her in for the covers but then never appear within the pages of the issue. This is so not fair. How am I supposed to make more Aphra costumes when you keep teasing me with these sweet new looks and only a cover to go by?

*ahem* Anyways. About the issue…

Everything’s going to hell at Aphra’s masquerade auction and it’s just going to get worse the more the issue continues and in the next one. This arc is a textbook example of why you don’t let murder droids become bored and then leave them alone. Bad things happen. Very. Bad. Things. Like the spirit of a very angry Jedi being put into the body of a droid with violent capabilities. At the same time, the arc is also a great example of why I love Aphra. Things have a tendency to go wrong around her but she finds a way to adapt to the situation and keep fighting. No one wants to live quite as much as Chelli Aphra. She might not do it how a more traditional hero would but dang does it make it look fun. And dangerous. Can’t forget the dangerous part. It’s why this character has resonated with so many people.

Hold on, I need to put my cosplayer (aviator) hat on again because while I love that Aphra committed to the hidden identity thing enough to wear a wig, there is no way her hair would have been in a bun look that good with some artful framing wisps after being under a wig for however many hours. Alternatively, Star Wars characters must teach us their ways for coping with wig and helmet hair.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that this arc has had me at the edge of my seat and I suspect that the next issue will have me yelling at the comic. Again. Seriously though… it is not going to go well for someone next issue.

Doctor Aphra #11: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Penciler, Marc Deering/Inks, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra #10

The good news is that the trouble from the end of the last issue hasn’t showed up yet. The bad news is that different trouble has reared its far more immediate head. Really though: should anyone be surprised given the parties involved? (I’m looking at you, Aphra, I’m looking at you.)

The offer’s been made and now Aphra has to go talk to all of the interested parties. Everyone wants the Immortal Rur for their own reasons and certain groups do a better job of making their case than others. (Looking at you, Ezaraa. Try again with those zeroes.) For me, what made this issue work was how it showed Aphra as a fully faceted character. She’s not just a trope who likes credits although let’s be very clear that she does like the credits. She’s still an archaeologist albeit one with ambiguous morals. Aphra does things for a reason even if that might not be what you or I would do. I like her because of her flaws, not despite of them.

Aphra’s flair for the dramatic means that we get a little more of a break from seeing her in her trademarked red vest look and I have to say that I’m enjoying it. What’s the point of being part of the Underworld if you don’t get fancy sometimes? It makes the Star Wars galaxy more colorful in more ways than one.

As a standalone issue, Doctor Aphra #10 doesn’t necessarily stand out in a good or a bad way. It’s just a part of the story arc that I’ve definitely been enjoying so far. I’m impatient to see where the next issue takes us!

Doctor Aphra #10: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Penciler, Marc Deering/Inks, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra #9

Forget hello: they had me at the cover. Don’t get me wrong: I love Aphra for being, well, her but seeing her in a fancy dress just makes me smile. (I have a weakness and I will not apologize for it.) Tragically, neither Aphra nor Krrsantan wear their fancy cover duds within the pages of the book but I suppose what they do wear partially makes up for it with what their fancywear actually looks like. Emphasis on partially.

Part I of ‘Doctor Aphra and the Enormous Profit’ continues the plot that’s been driving the entire book thus far. The Screaming Citadel plan didn’t quite work as she intended and so now she’s going to sell the Immortal Rur to the highest bidder. Because credits. However… there’s a twist. Which I will not spoil for you. (I will say that it made me drop the comic and shout a swear word when I read it.)

One of the neat things about Doctor Aphra is that it gets to show us more of the galaxy’s underworld, something we haven’t seen as much of in the new canon. This underworld also extends past bounty hunters. The fact that Aphra’s made them all dress up is just a bonus. It’s a big galaxy and it’s nice when Star Wars shows us a little more of it.

This issue also reminds us that Team Aphra doesn’t work together because of the Power of Friendship. They work together because to have to (for whatever reason it might be.) This isn’t a group of people like our heroes who will bail each other out because they care. It’s a contrast that’s most definitely going to come back with a vengeance. Undoubtedly, this is something we’ll see more of as the book progresses.

The doctor is in again and I’m very anxious to see what happens to her next. Very. Very. Anxious.

Doctor Aphra #8: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Penciler, Marc Deering/Inks, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra #8

Doctor Aphra #8 brings Screaming Citadel to its end as our heroes defeat the Queen but everyone doesn’t made it out entirely unscathed.

Sometimes, it’s in a good way. Despite being betrayed, Luke seems to emerge from the Screaming Citadel stronger and more sure of his path as a Jedi. He didn’t learn what he thought he would but it’s been a worthwhile experience for him nonetheless. Plus… it’s unlikely he’ll be naively trusting someone like Aphra any time soon. (Sadly, there go my hopes for a Luke/Aphra buddy comedy book and hopefully, there go the ridiculous Luke+Aphra=Rey theories.)

One of the recurring bits of this crossover has been Triple Zero laying down some disturbingly accurate psychoanalysis on some of the ladies. Seriously though… who knew a droid could be obsessed with murder and still have psychoanalysis protocols? This time, it’s Aphra that he’s turned his sights on and she’s not exactly pleased by what he has to say. Can’t really blame her but I also can’t say she’s wrong.

On the art front, this was a book that had three very distinct artistic styles in it and I have to wonder if it would have felt more cohesive if Checchetto had drawn the entire crossover. His style just felt more right for the gothic tone of the story. That said, I certainly enjoyed Andrea Broccardo’s work and I hope he sticks around the Doctor Aphra comics in the future.

Assorted Musings:

  • I doubt the Courtship of Princess Leia shout out was intentional but when you read it, you’ll know it
  • The friendship between Leia, Luke, and Han is pure and we need more of it
  • Sana felt a little inconsistent over the course of the arc but I like how things were left between her and Aphra
  • If anyone still doubts Aphra/Sana were an item after this… I dunno what to tell them.
  • Even when he’s mad, Luke Skywalker is still adorable

While Screaming Citadel didn’t have quite the punch that the previous crossover Vader Down did, it was nevertheless a fun and quirky ride that Doctor Aphra #8 wraps up nicely.

Doctor Aphra #8: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Andrea Broccardo/Art, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra #7

We’re at the halfway point in Screaming Citadel and this is the story arc that I never want to end. It’s so delightful and delightfully weird and I cannot get enough. Of course, that’s in direct contrast to how most of the characters in the arc feel because almost all of them want their time on this planet of horrors to end already. Understandably so.

Where Doctor Aphra #7 particularly shines is with its characters. The dynamics between Luke and Aphra continue to be a highlight because he’s just so sweet and earnest and she’s just so not. I could read an entire series of these two just gallivanting around the galaxy. Interestingly enough, Leia’s another character who really gets to take the spotlight in this issue even if there’s no real main character. Out of all “people,” it’s Triple Zero who lays down some fascinating psychoanalysis of her. It’s honestly a shame that we don’t get to see Gillen’s take on the Princess more often.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been watching the Pirates of the Caribbean films lately and they’re at the forefront of my mind but there’s something about Aphra in this series/issue that makes me think of Jack Sparrow. When you toss her into the mix with a bunch of Rebels, you’re not entirely sure what she’s going to do but you do know that her motives are always ultimately self-centered. BUT. She’s also likely to eventually do the right thing to help out people she likes… just in her own unique way. (Don’t give her a jar of dirt though.)

Finally, it’s worth noting that I adore Andrea Broccardo and Antonio Fabela’s art on this issue! Hopefully we’ll see them stick around on the book for a while.

Do you really need me to tell you to read this story arc again? Go read it!

Doctor Aphra #7: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Andrea Broccardo/Art, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Review: Screaming Citadel #1

The Screaming Citadel crossover kicks off today and I’ll just be referring to it as the issue in which everything is delightful and wonderful and nothing hurts. Another potential title is ‘Everything I never knew I wanted until just now’ which would be equally accurate.

The premise is fairly simple. Aphra’s got the artifact with a Force user’s consciousness from the Ordu Aspectu and she needs Luke’s help to convince the Queen of Ktath’atn to activate it. The way Aphra phrases it, it’s a win for everyone. Luke gets a Jedi instructor and Aphra gets a front row seat to history. Of course, it’s not going to be as easy as that and if you think Aphra’s in it purely for the academic knowledge…

What makes this book so darn fun is the interaction between Aphra and Luke. She’s a woman who’s been around the galaxy a few times and sees things in shades of grey while he’s still far closer to being the fluffy-haired farmboy than anything close to a Jedi Knight yet. This isn’t a combination that we got to see much of during Vader Down but it’s possibly one of the most delightful character combinations we’ve gotten in the comics thus far. I sincerely hope that Luke comparing Aphra to Han becomes a running gag.

There’s nothing about this issue that I don’t love and honestly, it’s such peak Gillen that I’m almost surprised that McKelvie’s not drawing it. (Although there’s something quite pretty about Checchetto’s art that I’m a fan of and that definitely works here.) To borrow Gillen’s own words, “it all goes None More Goth” and Aphra and Luke both have a chance to get dressed up all fancy (especially Luke.) Related: I would like to have Aphra’s jacket collection because it appears to be fantastic.

Screaming Citadel starts out strong and grabs the interest from the start. Even if you’ve fallen behind one either Doctor Aphra or Star Wars, I absolutely recommend picking up this crossover because it looks like it’s going to be a fun and wild ride.

Screaming Citadel #1: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Marco Checchetto/Art, Andres Mossa/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Kieron Gillen & Jason Aaron/Story, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor