Doctor Aphra #8 is the fifth and final issue of the Star Wars crossover event, “The Screaming Citadel.” The entire story began with a one-shot issue, followed by Star Wars #31-32 and finally wrapping up with Doctor Aphra #7-8. The final chapter, written by Kieron Gillen, who is no stranger to writing some twisted tales, pulls no punches here. I really enjoy the Doctor Aphra series and this was another good issue. However, this entire crossover feels less like a Star Wars story and more like a horror story with Star Wars characters. There’s nothing wrong with that, if fact it is quite good, just unexpected for a Star Wars story.
Luke is now infected with the creepy bug like symbiote and he reacts much differently than most due to his growing Jedi powers. This is the final showdown at the Citadel of Ktath’atn versus the Queen and it showcases just a hint of what it might look like if Luke even breifly turned toward the dark side. One thing I love about Aphra is that she is easily more underhanded, conniving and self-serving than Han Solo could ever hope to be but has that same gnawing sense of morality, despite all the terrible things she does. That comparison is not lost on the other characters in the book either. Gillen does a masterful job making Doctor Aphra a super complex character that you never really know whether to love or hate her.
Luke’s interaction with the consciousness of the ancient Jedi Rur is eye opening and helps Luke decide if the hope of training under Rur is the best option for him. While Luke struggles with both the Queen and Rur, Han is locked in his own battle with the hive mind. If I have one complaint about this issue it’s how Han deals with the hive mind infecting him. It falls a little flat for me. It feels like Han’s ability, in the end, shouldn’t be so similar to how a Jedi can fight it. It’s definitely not the same but it’s in the ballpark.
Beetee and Triple-Zero do the cleanup and use their violent homicidal natures in the name of good. Strange, I know, but Gillen makes these droids more than just violent aggressors. Gillen continues to expand ever so slightly on the past relationship between Doctor Aphra and Sana. There is obviously a lot of story there to explore and Gillen hopefully has plans for it in the future. Doctor Aphra is a great character and the more stories we get with her and the original characters the better. But, Aphra can stand alone for sure.
Finally my thoughts of this entire crossover as more of a horror story. Gillen and Jason Aaron, who wrote the Star Wars issues of the crossover, both have a plethora of experience writing strange, horrifying, violent and gruesome comics.They used much of that experience in this series. “The Screaming Citadel” had characters with powers to control others not infected with the hive mind, the hive mind itself, creepy, disgusting symbiotes, violence (both graphic and implied), the Queen played out more like a witch, plenty of blood and even a Friday the 13th-esque twist ending. Again, none of this is a bad thing but it’s a far cry from space battles and the Empire considering this story falls between episodes IV and V. That said, Gillen and Aaron were the perfect two to pull off this kind of story. I highly recommend reading the entire “The Screaming Citadel” crossover. It’s a fun, interesting, action packed detour in the Star Wars universe.
DOCTOR APHRA #8
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Andrea Broccardo
Official Description from MARVEL:
“THE SCREAMING CITADEL” — PART 5 Jedi! Symbiotes! Rebels! Murderbots! Smugglers! Archaeologists! This one has it all! But can any survive the horrors of the Screaming Citadel?