*Part of the Screaming Citadel Crossover
Marvel's Star Wars comics have been among the most consistently good titles in their current catalogue. While much of their super hero output is still quite good, one cannot ignore the high quality of their Star Wars family of titles, especially Star Wars, written by Jason Aaron.
With Screaming Citadel, their mainline Star Wars title is tying in with the also-good Doctor Aphra, written by Kieron Gillen (former writer of Darth Vader). Aphra has roped Luke Skywalker into a mission to go to the Screaming Citadel, which is ruled by a queen who only takes visitors once a year, about an artifact possessed by the consciousness of an ancient Jedi. Aphra convinces Luke that the queen may be able to reactivate the device and the power within it.
In this Star Wars #31, Han, Leia, and a woman named Sana begin a search for Luke and Doctor Aphra, while the two themselves meet up with the queen of the Screaming Citadel. Deception looms as the queen attempts to possess Luke and Aphra with parasites that numb the mind and control the body. This sends our two heroes on a desperate escape through the Citadel in the hopes of saving their own lives.
Jason Aaron's Star Wars maintains it high standard of quality in this issue. The duo of the daring Aphra and the cautious and young Luke make for quite a team. The queen of the Screaming Citadel has an ominous air to her, and she promises to be quite the villain to this story. She is allowed to show a lot of personality here, with a creepy nonchalant attitude to inevitable grisly murder.
We get to see the guards of the Screaming Citadel in action this time. Their armor design is quite awesome, with night-black Mandalorian-esque armor and red visors. They prove to be brutal foes to the poor souls who attempt to force their way into the Citadel in this book.
The caveat is the plot moves fairly slowly in this issue, with the majority of the running time being spent in the meeting between the queen, Luke, and Doctor Aphra. The intent is to build up tension as the pale queen eyes the two and spouts unnerving lines. It does succeed in this, as it is quite the tense scene. However, the consequence is an issue that feels a little thin in terms of plot. Not a whole lot is given room to happen. This won't be a problem in the inevitable trade paperback collection of Screaming Citadel, but it does no service to the story here.
Salvador Larroca's art, on the other hand, does a lot for this comic. It's, in all honesty, quite stunning in its photorealism. It makes the queen all the more unnerving, Aphra smugger and more self-assured, and Luke look exactly like frigging Mark Hamill. I cannot overstate how well the art and Edgar Delgado's art go together in this comic.
Star Wars #31 and its series are easily recommendable. It's been consistently great since the beginning, and shows no sign of stopping here. Despite the pacing problems in this particular issue, this book remains one of Marvel's best.