DOCTOR APHRA #8 is a satisfying conclusion for “The Screaming Citadel,” the latest STAR WARS/DOCTOR APHRA crossover. Utilizing its Gothic horror-based narrative, this climactic issue represents the turning point for our heroes in the face of overwhelming odds. While the storyline as a whole was weaker compared to that of “Vader Down,” DOCTOR APHRA #8 works quite well in depicting the character development of Aphra and Luke Skywalker in the Galaxy Far Far Away.

doctor aphra #8
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Following the events of STAR WARS #32, DOCTOR APHRA #8 finds Luke Skywalker infected with the King symbiote, whose control over the Ktath’atn hive rivals that of its Queen. With both king and queen locked in combat, the Queen’s generals attempt to eliminate the symbiote-possessed Han Solo, who also holds the power to control lower Hive members. As Princess Leia and Sana attempt to wake Han out of his trance, Doctor Aphra offers Luke an advantage with the now-activated Rur Crystal. With the crystal offering Luke a path to victory, will he accept its wisdom, or take a different direction completely?

Strong the Characterization is…

DOCTOR APHRA #8 wraps up this crossover, displaying how our heroes managed to overcome the Hive Queen’s army. Unlike the previous issues, in which writer Kieron Gillen used gothic and horror tropes to construct his narrative, here the narrative is more emotional in nature. In other words, the actions our heroes take to overcome obstacles feel in touch with their respective personalities. How would Han Solo fight back against the parasite’s influence? Simple: Han Solo would never take orders from anyone else; so why would he ever want to be part of the Hive? Especially if the circumstances put him in charge of telling people what to do?

READ: Learn how this STAR WARS comic gave us the menacing Darth Vader that the movies struggled at portraying.

Likewise, Luke Skywalker’s internal conflict with the King and Rur Crystal contribute to his Jedi training, pitting the former’s desire for power and the latter’s for knowledge against the spiritual path of the Jedi. As Luke himself mentions, being a Jedi is more than just knowing how the Force works; rather, it’s feeling and becoming one with the Force over time, as that yields the greater rewards. This means never choosing a shortcut towards success, as nothing worthwhile in life is ever easy.

doctor aphra #8
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Who is Aphra?

STAR WARS #32 forced Aphra to confront her guilt over handing Luke to the Queen. This issue shows her attempting to rectify that mistake. By giving him the activated crystal as an ally, Aphra chooses to accept some responsibility where her old self would have most likely walked away without regret. By the issue’s end, it’s made clear that Aphra sees some of herself in Luke, with both characters walking different paths in life that derive from a similar personal tragedy. What this will mean for future character arcs remains unknown.

The Art in DOCTOR APHRA #8

If DOCTOR APHRA #8 has a problem, it’s that the artwork isn’t always consistent. Andrea Broccardo’s artwork still retains the likeness of the original STAR WARS trilogy. However, the level of detail can feel rather uneven per frame. In one scene a character might be heavily visualized; yet another will have their design so far into the background that it appears flat. On the other hand, the color palette works in the artist’s favor, displaying a gradual lighter hue to reflect the hero’s triumph in the gothic interior setting. There’s definitely a strong attention to color here; I just wish the attention to detail were equally as noticeable.

READ: Just how much does Luke Skywalker’s character have in common with another space orphan’s character arc? Here are the similarities between him and Star-Lord!

Final Thoughts

DOCTOR APHRA #8 is a satisfying conclusion to “The Screaming Citadel,” even if it feels like Aphra’s characterization takes a backseat to the actions of Luke, Han, and Leia. Nevertheless, the action, character interactions, and spiritual vibe make up for this and deliver a climax that will satisfy fans of both comic series.

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