This week the next Star Wars crossover begins with “The Screaming Citadel”, and a new Revenge Squad forms in Action Comics!
Star Wars: Screaming Citadel #1 (Marvel Comics)
Almost a year after the end of the first Marvel Star Wars crossover, it’s now time for the next one. But instead of crossing over with Darth Vader, the main Star Wars title is crossing over with Doctor Aphra for “The Screaming Citadel”. As the first major event since Vader Down, there’s a lot of speculation over this story, but Keiron Gillen and Marco Checchetto are able to craft a cool little story that’s an interesting addition to the Star Wars mythos.
Doctor Aphra has acquired an ancient Jedi relic, but in order to use it she needs the help of a mysterious alien race. The problem with that is that these aliens will only help her if she can bring them a new alien race that they’ve never met before for their annual gathering at the Screaming Citadel. Believing that Luke Skywalker’s connection to the Force can help her in both regards, Aphra brings Luke with her to the gathering. When Luke accidentally uses his Force abilities against a guard, Aphra is welcomed in by the Queen. But not is all as it seems with this alien race, because the Queen has plans for the young Jedi.
I was initially a little hesitant when I opened Screaming Citadel. Everything I had read leading up to it made me initially think that Keiron Gillen and Jason Aaron would attempt to insert some horror elements into Star Wars, which is a very tricky thing to pull off (remember the Galaxy of Fear series from the late 90’s? It wasn’t great).While Aaron and Gillen don’t use Screaming Citadel as an excuse to make things dark and bloody for our heroes, Citadel is definitely a lot moodier and spookier than we’re used to in this universe. Thankfully though, it works really well here, as the change in mood and tone is a big refresher for this series. Gillen’s new alien race is really interesting, and they seem to be a legitimate threat for Luke and Aphra (even though Luke can’t die here).
Marco Checchetto is no stranger to Marvel’s Star Wars line, and it’s a real treat to get him on this book. Checchetto’s clean style works extremely well for at the movie heroes we know so well, but he’s made great strides in his depictions of the aliens of the Star Wars universe. There’s a wide variety of creatures on display at the queen’s party, and it’s a great showcase for Checchetto’s style.
Screaming Citadel was a very strong opening issue that adds a new interesting element to the Star Wars mythos. While it’s not exactly new reader friendly (you’ll have to check out the Doctor Aphra series for some key background info), it’s exactly the kind of book that we need to shake up the Marvel Star Wars books. Here’s hoping Aaron and Gillen and keep the interest for the next installments.
Action Comics #979 (DC Comics)
One of the most consistent DC Rebirth books has been Action Comics. The back to basics super heroics approach to the Man of Steel has been a very solid read, much in part to the writing skills of Dan Jurgens. By peppering in clues to the Rebirth event as a whole, Action Comics has become one of the must read Rebirth titles, and with the start of the “Revenge” storyline, that’s not ending any time soon.
With Clark and Lois moving back to Metropolis (and recently back as residents of “our” universe), things are starting to look up for the Man of Steel again. However, members of his rogues gallery are secretly meeting and joining forces thanks to Blanque, the villain who has been imprisoned in Superman’s Fortress of Solitude for a majority of the series since the DC Rebirth relaunch. As he assembles Mongul, Eradicator, and other villains, we quickly learn that the actual man behind the scenes is none other than Hank Henshaw, who has now returned to his Cyborg Superman persona and is ready for his revenge.
While it’s a bit of a bummer that this issue doesn’t feature Superman squaring off with the Revenge Squad, the set up from Dan Jurgens is well worth it. Jurgens has a long history with Superman, and he uses that to his advantage here. There have been a lot of changes made to these characters in New 52 and DC Rebirth, but somehow Jurgens is able to make these changes work within his script, turning it back so the classic versions of these characters are still in place despite all of the changes made to them.
Patrick Zircher has been the main artist for Action Comics, and it’s great to see him here. Zircher is not only the best artist in the Action Comics stable; he’s one of the best artists at DC period. Every panel here is spectacular, and filled with images that will totally be used for in house ads for years to come. Zircher always brings his A game for this series, but here he definitely outdoes himself.
“Revenge” serves as a great entry point for Action Comics. It’s a great example of what Dan Jurgens and his artists have been doing with this series: simple super hero stories that remind you why Superman is one of the greatest superheroes of all time. At a time when Superman should be the top dog in the yard, it’s good to see that Dan Jurgens thinks so as well.