Doctor Aphra #7

Doctor Aphra #7

(Screaming Citadel Part 3 of 5)

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Andrea Broccardo
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Marco Checchetto

Doctor Aphra #7 may not be for everyone, as it was not for me. In this issue they go all out with the horror theme with werewolf Wookiees, parasitic symbiotes and buzz saw surgery. Doctor Aphra and Luke continue running from the mad queen and her minions while also continuing to double cross each other. Leia, Sana and Han arrive but don’t really serve any purpose other than Han being mind controlled by the queen’s vampire confetti. And somehow the symbiotes seem to be at the core behind the story, though it’s not exactly clear how that works. It’s pretty messy both visually and as a story.

As you can see, there is quite literally vampire confetti going on in this issue. This is how the artist chose to depict the queen’s magical influence upon others.

Starting with the story, this issue is very over the top. First off, there’s the menagerie of mutant aliens like the two headed Ithorian and the three armed Gungan. Then there’s the vampire people, which includes the queen. There are the parasitic abersyn symbiotes which get implanted into Black Krrsantan’s head after some surgery performed to the back of his skull with a buzz saw. But the coup de grace is when Krrsantan transforms into a werewolf. Now as far as a Halloween themed story goes, this would be great. But this isn’t some fun little throw away story. This is supposed to be canon. Were supposed to believe that Han, Luke and Leia did all of this before The Empire Strikes Back. They fought vampire people and saw werewolf Wookiees. On one hand, it’s pretty far fetched, but on the other hand it just doesn’t fit into Star Wars that well.

On top of all the ridiculous horror elements, the characters are kind of lack luster. Luke continues to be an extremely gullible do-gooder. Aphra continues to be untrustworthy as she keeps double crossing everyone. For the most part, Leia and Han serve no purpose in this issue as they don’t do anything. They’re just along for the ride. Sana, on the other hand, falls into the same boat but goes one further with an extremely shallow characterization. For Sana, it feels like a complete reversion of her character. She doesn’t trust anyone, she doesn’t show any signs of intelligence, and the first thing she does on seeing Aphra is try to shoot her, but upon missing, is happy to just go along with the others. It’s such caricature of a person. Rather than feeling fleshed out and believable, she’s a bad sitcom character. And that is how every character in this comic feels: like bad sitcom characters.

Now buried under all the weird horror elements and shallow characterization, is the glimpse of what might be the kernel of the plot. When they come across the abersyn symbiotes, Aphra says they are a hive control system that transfers life energies up the pyramid leading to a viral spread and death within a year. This seems to indicate that the queen and her court are infected with these symbiotes and that is why they were feeding off of everyone in the city. The symbiotes have a bad reaction with some species, like Wookiees, which is why they weren’t allowed to the party. When the symbiotes infect those species, they seem to become mindless, wild beasts. Which leads one to wonder if we’ve seen the end of Krrsantan or if there’s a cure.

The implications in these panels are pretty gruesome while skirting full on gore.

Story elements aside, there’s one other aspect that really hurts this issue, and that’s the artwork. I am not a fan of Andrea Broccardo’s art style. It’s very cartoony. Just flipping through the pages, I couldn’t actually find any panels I liked. In comparison with the artists that worked on the previous two issues of Screaming Citadel, this one looks terrible. There were certainly some great moments that could have been captured in the artwork, but it just doesn’t happen.

The panels on the first page are a good example of what the artwork and art style is like.

Overall, Doctor Aphra #7 was quite the disappointment. The story got weird, the characters didn’t shine and the artwork left a lot to be desired. I give this one a one and a half out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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