Welcome to Tales From A Galaxy Far, Far Away! This right here will be your monthly hub, looking in depth at Marvel’s Star Wars comics each month! Now, you may be thinking: “Alice, don’t you already have a podcast where you talk about Star Wars every month?” And you’d be right! But, this way, I get to delve deep into Marvel’s comics and I get to talk about Star Wars even more.
In this inaugural edition of Tales From A Galaxy Far, Far Away, we’re looking at Marvel’s Star Wars releases from the month of May. That included the beginning of ‘The Screaming Citadel’ in “Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel” #1 that continued into “Star Wars” #31 and “Doctor Aphra” #7. Also, “Poe Dameron” kicked off it’s fourth story arc, ‘Legend Lost,’ in #14 and #15.
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s punch it, Chewie!
“The Screaming Citadel” #1
Story by Kieron Gillen & Jason Aaron
Written by Kieron Gillen
Illustrated by Marco Checchetto
Coloured by Andres Mossa
Lettered by Joe Caramagna
“THE SCREAMING CITADEL” — PART 1 Rebel pilot and rogue archaeologist wander side by side into the darkest shadows of the galaxy as Luke Skywalker reluctantly teams up with Doctor Aphra! The Doctor makes Luke an offer he can’t afford to pass up…one that leads him to a very rare gathering at the heart of the infamous Screaming Citadel. Will Luke find what he’s looking for? Can Aphra be trusted? Or will they both wind up victims of the Citadel’s Queen?
The Story So Far…
‘The Screaming Citadel’ is a perfect crossover because it is both entirely self-contained as a storyline as well as being connected to the storylines that have lead up to it. In “Star Wars,” this follows the story arcs ‘Last Flight Of The Harbinger’ and ‘Yoda’s Secret War’ in which the Rebel Alliance hijacked a Star Destroyer to provide relief aid to a planet, but encountered Task Force 99, an elite SCAR Squadron. Task Force 99 escaped with C-3PO and Luke turned to Obi-Wan’s journal in the hopes of advice. What he got was an interesting look into Yoda’s past, but no luck in finding C-3PO. That’s probably why he’s so bummed at the beginning of this issue.
“Doctor Aphra,” meanwhile, reunited Aphra with her father who was researching the Ordu Aspectu, a splinter group of the old Jedi Order obsessed with finding the secret to immortality, and found the sight of their doom. More on what they found in a bit.
A Hidden Rebel Base
Remember how I said the Rebels hijacked a Star Destroyer? Well, it seems like their encounter with Task Force 99 has lead to them relocating once more as they set up a Rebel outpost on Horox III. This issue marks the first appearance of Horox III, an Outer Rim planet that has been just one of the many outposts and potential bases the Rebels have set up since the destruction of their Yavin IV base.
So This Farmboy From Tattooine Walks Into A Bar
Those two lovely looking gentleman that Luke has a… disagreement with are Sabats. One ‘b,’ not like the band. Sabats were created for Rogue One where one of Saw’s Partisans was a Sabat named Leevan Tenza. This species was first identified as Sabats by the Rogue One: Ultimate Visual Guide, which paints them as quite disagreeable. Fitting, right?
“Knowing who I have to fight eventually…”
This is an interesting moment to me and shows the grasp that Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen have on writing these characters. As readers, we know that Luke is fated to meet Vader in combat because, well, we’ve seen The Empire Strikes Back and we all know how well that goes. It’s a different perspective, however, to look at it through the lens of the character at this moment.
Remember, Luke has no idea that Vader was once Anakin. All he knows is that he’s a big bastard in a cape and helmet who killed his master and supposedly killed his father and Luke’s fate as a Jedi Padawan is to face and strike down Vader.Continued below
Yeah, that would put a damper on your view of the future too.
A Connection To Legends
As I mentioned, “Doctor Aphra”‘s first arc dealth with Aphra and her father uncovering the doom of the Ordu Aspectu. What they found was a crystal containing the inactive, but conscious mind of the leader of the Ordu Aspectu known as Eternal Rur. Now, even in-universe, this is fascinating and showed a side to the Jedi that we’ve never seen before, that there were splinter groups who weren’t dark side Force users and weren’t Sith.
On the other hand, it’s fascinating because it’s also a reference to a Legends (read: old) comic you might not have heard of. In Marvel UK’s “Star Wars Monthly” #159, back in 1982, a story called ‘Blind Fury!’ appeared illustrated by John Stokes and written by none other than Alan Moore. In it, Rur was the High Shaman of the Order of the Terrible Glare, an organisation at war with the Jedi Order during the time of the Old Republic. Rur encased his consciousness in a crystal matrix (hey, just like that other Rur!) and, for the next few months, would use technology to lure Jedi into a trap and kill them as revenge for his Order.
Problem is, being a living consciousness trapped in a crystal means you lose track time easily and what Rur experienced as months was actually generations when he lured Luke Skywalker into his trap. Rur was distraught when Luke told him that the Jedi were already wiped out and he’d received his lightsaber from the last of them. His revenge unfulfilled, Rur destroyed himself and his facility leaving Luke to reflect on the nature of hatred, obsession and revenge.
I’m interested in seeing how that connection might play out with Luke’s aforementioned fated encounter with Vader.
Aliens Of The Royal Court
Party scenes like this are a goldmine for including alien references in the background. In the panel above, we get Original Trilogy mainstays like the Quarren, Bith Duros and Twi’leks, but what’s interesting is who shows up in the next few pages. Not only do we get some Prequel Trilogy references with the appearance of a Toydarian and a Gungan, but there’s an Abednedo, a species created for The Force Awakens, in the background of the panel where Luke meets one of the Ezaraa, who make their first appearance here.
These pages truly bring together people from all across the Star Wars galaxy.
What’s interesting about the Queen’s harvest is that she doesn’t directly feed on the life energy of the villagers. Instead, her lieutenants drain the life energy from the villagers surrounding the Citadel and then feed that to the Queen. Now, I wonder what that could mean…
That Farmboy Cleans Up Nicely
Honestly, I don’t have any real point in this one, I just wanted show off this panel because my boy looks so good. Isn’t he the best?
“Star Wars” #31
Written by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by Salvador Larroca
Coloured by Edgar Delgado
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
“THE SCREAMING CITADEL” — PART 2 While Luke and Aphra face the Queen of the Citadel…Han and Leia are coming…for Aphra?!
These Are Not The Names Of Predacons, Somehow
This issue, we get the names of two of the Queen’s lieutenants: Bombinax, who looks like a souped up version of the Sith soldiers from Knights Of The Old Republic and sounds like a Bomberman character, and Vespinax, who is a seemingly blind assassin. Somehow these aren’t the names of Transformers.
Also, we still have no idea what the deal is with that guy looking like Deadman in the last issue. But I like to think it’s a secret Star Wars/DC crossover.
A Long Way To Go
We see in this issue that Luke’s command of the Force is still in it’s infancy. Under pressure, he can command the Force bluntly as we saw in the last issue when he used a Force push to protect Aphra, but he has no conscious finesse.Continued below
This lines up with The Empire Strikes Back where he still struggles somewhat to pull his lightsaber to him in the Wampa’s cave and with Heir To Jedi, which takes place before the first arc of “Star Wars,” where Luke is just beginning to explore manipulation of the Force.
It’s also an interesting look behind the curtain at the fact that Luke isn’t a complete natural. Just because he can do amazing things because of his intuition in the Force, he’s still learning and it’ll be a while before he truly masters the Force.
Just How Old Is This Queen?
At the end of the one-shot, the Queen gloats that it’s been a long time since she tasted Jedi and here, she reveals that, so long as she’s hosted this yearly gathering in the Citadel, no one has ever brought her a Jedi. This sets me wondering… just how old is this Queen? For her to have tasted the life energy of a Jedi, but not have been brought one, we’re looking at the Clone Wars or even before. And yet, she still looks uncannily like a young Michelle Trachtenberg.
I wonder if this is foreshadowing something…
If Carnage Shows Up, I’m Out
Now, this is an interesting reveal. Way back in the backup story of “Doctor Aphra” #1, Aphra encountered the Abersyn symbiotes during her school days. She stole a hidden nest of symbiotes from one of her professors and turned them over to the Empire to be disintegrated.
Seems like that backup story was more than just an exploration of how quickly Aphra will dick over everyone in her life and was actually setting up this reveal. I don’t necessarily think this is the same hive for a couple of reasons, but I do feel like this is connected to what’s going on with the Queen and I’ll get to that when we look at the next issue.
The Menagerie Is For Guests Only
This is another panel like that party from the one-shot as we see a collection of disparate aliens from throughout Star Wars history. Obviously, they’re all infected with the symbiotes and zombified, but still.
We see a two-headed Ithorian (and I have to wonder if that’s an experiment by the Queen or if they were born like that) as well as a Gundan and a Talz. The Talz is especially interesting because we see in The Clone Wars that the tribe of them on Ordo Plutonia was not a spacefaring civilisation. And yet we see one here and one in the Mos Eisley cantina in A New Hope. I have to wonder what happened to Ordo Plutonia after the Republic became the Empire.
“Doctor Aphra” #7
Written by Kieron Gillen
Illustrated by Andrea Broccardo
Coloured by Antonio Fabela
Lettered by Joe Caramagna
“THE SCREAMING CITADEL” — PART 3 The Queen’s parasites are spreading. Things don’t look good for Han.
Sana And Aphra, Sittin’ In A Tree…
This issue makes it abundantly clear that there’s much more going on between Sana and Aphra than an old rivalry. It was mentioned in “Doctor Aphra” #6 that Aphra’s had romantic entanglements with women in the past and we know that Aphra’s worked with Sana as far back as the flashback in the backup to “Doctor Aphra” #1.
I’m also betting there’d be even more evidence up re-examining the ‘Rebel Jail’ story in “Star Wars,” but that’s more legwork than I’m willingly to put in for this point: both Aphra and Sana are very bisexual and the more queer ladies in Star Wars, the better.
Ranking In The Rebellion
This panel reminded me of something interesting: both Luke and Han have genuine ranks in the Alliance military. They are soldiers and, in most missions, Leia is pretty much their commanding officer.
This might be a weird thing to bring up, but it’s something that’s rarely actually addressed. Most stories position them as equals because they’re all so close to one another and because Luke and Han essentially rank as specialists on missions. It’s just a little strange to see one of these characters actually bring it up in this situation, especially because this isn’t exactly an Alliance-sanctioned mission. It does foreshadow something interesting, though.Continued below
A Theory About The Queen
So, about that Queen…
I’ve hinted at it a bunch throughout this piece, but I think it’s fairly clear to see what Aaron and Gillen are building to with the Queen: she’s being controlled by the Queen of the Abersyn hive. Aphra mentions that the Abersyn symbiotes function as a hive and that they transfer life energies up the pyramid to the Queen.
This is why, in the last pages of the one-shot, the lieutenants feast on the life energies of the villagers and then pass that life energy onto the Queen to feed. They’re passing it up the hierarchy of the hive. Also, the lieutenants have been implanted with symbiotes too, obviously.
It’s a pretty neat swerve and keeps the gothic vibe that kicked off the story intact while tying it in with mythos established in earlier comics as well as feeling very Star Wars-y. It also reminds me of those Geonosian brain worms from The Clone Wars.
An Empire For Everyone
I have some… thought about this exchange. Aphra mentions that she believe that the Empire is not “for” people like her and Luke, the renegades of the galaxy, and that it’s “for” the kind of people who want the stability of peace regardless of the cost of that peace. It’s an interesting jab at the kind of people who would gladly accept fascist rule and turn a blind eye to the way it targets specific people who aren’t like them so long as they’re well off.
Luke, meanwhile, had the stability of a simple farm life torn out from under him when the Empire killed his aunt and uncle. It’s a much more nuanced way of exploring the oppression of the Empire and opposition to that without painting them as generically evil. There’s a much more insidious relevance to them.
Going back to that foreshadowing with Leia, Triple Zero has an interesting observation about Leia: that Leia is often so focused on the mission that, because of her background as a politician and a Rebellion leader, she almost unwittingly sees her friends as pawns.
It’s a solid point and a lot of Leia’s frustrations throughout the Original Trilogy come from the people who won’t put in the work to fight for the greater good and would rather live their own comfortable life while letting the galaxy suffer (Han). When Triple Zero mentions that Leia’s life would be much better off if her companions were more willingly tools in her fight, he has a point. Not a very moralistic one, but a point nonetheless.
And it’s another showcase of the grasp these writers have on the characters. Often, writers tackle Han, Luke and Leia as these living saints who can do no wrong. Okay, maybe not Han so much, but the three of them were placed as these important centres of galactic happenings in the EU. They were central to the fight against the Empire and the reconstruction of the Republic and the establishment of a New Jedi Order.
One of the things I love about the new canon is that it focuses more on them as people and how their actions are important in the moment and, most importantly, how they’re sometimes flawed human beings. I want to see “Star Wars” expand on this moment and use it in Leia’s development going forward.
I Did It All For The Wookiee
Finally, we get pay off for the “No Wookiees” thing: for some reason the Abersyn don’t like being implanted in Wookiees and it causes them to go into a berserker rage.
I am very excited to see a fight between Black Krrsantan and Bombinax. That’s going to own.
“Poe Dameron” #14
Continued belowWritten by Charles Soule
Illustrated by Angel Unzueta
Coloured by Arif Prianto
Lettered by Joe Caramagna
It is a sad day for the Resistance as they mourn the loss of a fallen comrade. But their fight is far from over…
Luminous Beings Are We
This issue, especially the opening funeral scenes and Poe’s speech, was essentially an extended tribute to Carrie Fisher. Charles Soule really outdid himself on that, weaving the tribute into the text as Poe honours a fallen comrade and friend. Angel Unzueta’s renditions of Leia, perfectly capturing the likeness of Carrie throughout, added so much to the issue that this has become the standout issue of “Poe Dameron” for me.
Honouring A Hero
This is a pretty light issue, so instead let’s talk about the life and legacy of L’ulo L’ampar.
L’ulo was in introduced in the leadup to The Force Awakens in “Shattered Empire” #1 as a pilot of Green Squadron during the Battle of Endor. L’ulo piloted alongside Shara Bey, Poe’s mother, in that conflict and others during the aftermath of the destruction of the second Death Stat.
That is, until L’ulo, as Shara’s commanding officer, submitted the paperwork for her retirement from service as an Alliance pilot. Shara went back to live on Yavin IV with her husband and son until her death six years after the Battle of Endor. What happened to L’ulo after the formation of the New Republic isn’t well known, but he was referenced in Greg Rucka’s Before The Awakening novel before re-appearing in “Poe Dameron” #1 from Charles Soule and Phil Noto where he flew with Poe as part of the Resistance’s Black Squadron.
Even though he only appeared in two comic series, his life spanned the destruction of the Empire, the rise of the New Republic and a new fight against the remnants of the Empire. He may have been a minor character in the grand scheme of things, but his life is a legacy that is entwined with the life of Poe Dameron and his death is a passing of the torch in the fight against the dark side.
RIP In Peace, Agent Terex
Meanwhile, in the First Order side of things, Agent Terex reports back to Phasma and has his mind essentially gutted for disobeying orders. While this is perfectly in character for Phasma, I think it’s a weird move for the series as a whole.
Terex was something of an anti-Poe; roguish and charismatic, but loyal to the Empire and to the power of tyranny. Their rivalry was beginning to flourish after that third arc and I hope that it hasn’t just been jettisoned all together. I don’t know how Terex could come back from being Lobot-ed, but I hope some swerve occurs.
“Poe Dameron” #15
Written by Charles Soule
Illustrated by Angel Unzueta
Coloured by Arif Prianto
Lettered by Joe Caramagna
The First Order must be stopped! And Captain Phasma knows just how to get Terex to toe the line.
Catching Up To The Force Awakens
I genuinely believe this arc, ‘Legend Lost,’ or the next arc could be the last for this series. “Poe Dameron” is solicited up to #18 in August and, given the book’s penchant for 6 issue story arcs, #19 is likely the final issue of ‘Legend Lost.’ That would leave three issues before the release of The Last Jedi in December.
I would hazard a guess that ‘Legend Lost’ or the subsequent story arc will have the story catch up with the beginning of The Force Awakens and has Poe complete his mission to find Lor San Tekka. The, we could maybe see a timeskip to follow the events of Poe after The Force Awakens and up to The Last Jedi or even following the events of The Last Jedi.
Point being, I think there’s only so much material this series can mine in the weeks and months prior to The Force Awakens and a certain point it has to continue into the future or, simply, end.
A Dark Time For The Resistance
In this issue, we learn that the First Order has been striking at smuggler’s linked to the Resistance in order to disable their fuel supply and render them helpless. This is a reminder that, prior to the attack on Hosnian Prime in The Force Awakens, the conflict between the Resistance and the First Order is something of a secret war.Continued below
Despite having the support of the New Republic, Leia’s Resistance isn’t formally recognised by them and, to the galaxy at large, the First Order is a collection of myths and whispers from the Unknown Regions of space.
Enter Agent Malarus
This issue sees the return of Agent Malarus of the First Order, who was first introduced collecting Terex at the end of “Poe Dameron” #13. Malarus seems to be taking over from Terex and the main antagonist of the series going forward, keeping Terex around as a walking computer.
While we don’t know much about her yet, the solicits to #16 hint that we’ll find out more very soon.
Like Aurra Sing With More Arms
Despite having a name that sounds like a motosports company, this is the first appearance of Captain Perilli and her crew. Perilli and her crew are Xexto (or maybe it’s Xextos? I’m not sure), a race of six-limbed aliens created for The Phantom Menace. One of the podracers in Episode I, Gasgano, isa Xexto. This marks one of the rare appearances by a Xexto in canon material since The Phantom Menace.
SPEED In Space…
I try not to simply retread the plot of these issues in these points and instead try to mine the issue for references and interesting tidbits that explore the galaxy and the characters with connections to other Star Wars stories.
Still, I find it hilarious that this arc of “Poe Dameron,” or the next issue at least, is just going to be SPEED in space.
And there we have it! A deep dive into the stories of Marvel’s Star Wars comics from the last month! Join me next month for a look into the release of June.
And, as always, may the Force be with you…