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When Marvel Comics got back the license for Star Wars, it didn't take long for them to launch a phenomenally successful comic book range. The main book was Star Wars, written by Jason Aaron and set during the period between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Aaron's run has continually been backed up by Kieron Gillen, whose Darth Vader ongoing came to an end last year, but was replaced by the new ongoing Doctor Aphra. Now, in an exciting twist, Marvel has just announced their next big Star Wars event: a crossover between Star Wars and Doctor Aphra called "The Screaming Citadel"!
What do we know?
For the uninformed, Doctor Aphra is an amoral archaeologist introduced in Gillen's Darth Vader series. She became one of Vader's pawns and, drawn ever-deeper into his circle, she realized her days were numbered; in a stroke of genius, Aphra faked her own death and now keeps her head down very, very low. She's crossed paths with the Rebels before — she was one of the agents Vader worked closely with in his quest for Skywalker — so a crossover is sure to be a dangerous proposition for the good Doctor.
According to #Marvel, Doctor Aphra will give Luke an offer he can't refuse; if he works with her on a quest, she'll reveal some of the secrets of the Jedi that he's been pursuing relentlessly. It's described by Jason Aaron as "a Star Wars gothic horror story", and will feature the duo stepping into the titular Screaming Citadel: a new Star Wars location that seems inspired by Stephen King's famous Dark Tower. Marvel hasn't given away much about the Screaming Citadel — just that Luke and Doctor Aphra will fall foul of an alien Queen, and that a dark power resides within the Citadel...
For Gillen and Aaron, the real fun has been world-building. They've developed a sinister world, one that's Regency-inspired, with deadly clouds of acid rain. Luke and Aphra will know something's wrong right off the bat, when they arrive in a village that's overlooked by the sinister Screaming Citadel. Using all the horror tropes, Gillen explains:
"There’s a really weird castle up on the hill and it’s a bit suspicious, and they arrive there and [the people] seem very friendly but something is definitely off."
Gillen seems tremendously proud about the arc, which he views as "transformational", importing a whole new genre of fiction into the Star Wars universe, and exploring the characters in a whole new way. Visually, the story will tap into Alexander McQueen's revolutionary designs in a way Marvel has never done before, and Gillen expects certain parts of the fan community — particularly cosplayers — to be thrilled by it.
This is only the second Star Wars event Marvel has published; Gillen and Aaron were central to the first, the hugely successful "Vader Down", and it's no surprise to see their excitement at revisiting the crossover idea. In this case, though, "The Screaming Citadel" sounds to be a revolutionary new take on Star Wars, one that crosses the franchise over with a genre that's never before been part of it. Launching in May with a one-shot, the five-issue arc will continue in Star Wars #31-32 and Doctor Aphra #7-8. It has the potential to be a classic, so don't miss it!