Note: This review contains spoilers.
Of the three newly launched Marvel Comics Star Wars series, Princess Leia is the only mini-series, and writer Mark Waid definitely doesn’t waste any time; the second issue is so packed with different story threads that it almost seems like more of a table-setter than the first issue. We’ve got two-faced moustache twirlers, Besalisk human(?) traffickers armed with axes and bull whips, and a conspiratorial group of musicians. Leia’s got her work cut out for her. But how do these issues stack up?
Princess Leia #1 seemed to have had the most polarizing reception of the new trio of Star Wars series; readers, according to endless tweets and blog posts, either loved it or hated it. I fell in the former category, not only because I trust Mark Waid after legendary stints on Daredevil and Fantastic Four, but because it felt like an issue that needed to happen. It was tie-in fiction at its finest, taking off directly after A New Hope, as we learn that the awkward (sorry, but it’s true) medal ceremony precluded an also-awkward stilted, emotionless speech that all but summed up Leia’s pent-up sadness over the loss of her home planet Alderaan. The awards ceremony is one of the most out-of-place scenes in any of the Star Wars films, so seeing it being so directly addressed in the debut issue of Leia was pretty fulfilling after years of wondering what exactly was going on there (still no hints as to why Chewbacca didn’t get a medal). Through her speech, we learn that Leia prefers to take action rather than sit around and mope and make melancholy speeches, as the other rebel commanders would have liked, and she embarks on an adventure with the pilot Evaan to retrieve all the surviving people of Alderaan. This concept falls perfectly in line with her character in the films; she’s headstrong and always on the move, unfailingly serious but not afraid to take risks, very much like her father, Anakin Skywalker. It also takes her away from the dull diplomat niche she’d found in much of the now-decanonized Legends material. However, as much as it insists that Leia is a warrior and not a politician, issue #2 ever-so-gently dips its Dodson-drenched toes into that dreaded sea of yawns.
Issue #2 takes Leia and Evaan to Naboo, a planet with close ties and similar sensibilities to Alderaan, a connection most Star Wars fans always suspected. We are also given glimpses into the beautiful mountainous planet of Alderaan, as well as some insight into Leia’s childhood and relationship with her father, Bail Organa, something else we haven’t seen in the “new” canon (I believe this is also the first flashback we’ve seen, which is somewhat controversial after a rumor a few months back that The Force Awakens would feature flashbacks, something many fans felt to be very un-Star Wars). The scenes with Bail are a little odd, as Waid chooses a fruit (vegetable?) called ruica to be the connective tissue between a series of memories that again serve to reinforce the fact that Leia prefers the frontlines over intellectual and administrative duties.
The plot get a little more muddled as Leia connects with an untrustworthy former colleague, the very Prince Xizor-like Lord Junn, whose mustache was so hideous that I nearly closed my laptop in disgust. The general art style is very Phantom Menace, my favorite prequel film, and it blends quite well with Terry Dodson’s fluid, winding pencils. While it works, Dodson’s characters all seem a little too smug to me; their facial expressions seem to indicate that they are always lying through their teeth, even if they’re not. As strange as this sounds, there’s too much smiling in this book.
I won’t get much more into the plot because there are a lot of threads being started here, but this mini-series has certainly staked its claim as the “espionage” book of the three new Star Wars comics, as opposed to the action-oriented Star Wars and political intrigue of Darth Vader. We aren’t likely to see the Force, lightsabers, or space battles in Princess Leia (and fortunately so–her ship is pretty ugly), but getting to see Leia head-butt a Besalisk almost completely makes up for it.
While it’s a little disjointed when the story jumps from developing characters to purely covering plot points, Princess Leia still has a lot of promise. The art continues to be strong, even if it’s not exactly my cup of tea. I look forward to finding out the repercussions of rescuing the remaining Alderaanians, as well as how this mission is going to change Leia’s role in the Rebel Alliance. I can only hope that this emphasis on Leia being a soldier, not a diplomat, is a hint for her character following the events of Return of the Jedi. And Mark Waid should be commended for building her personality as Anakin Skywalker’s daughter; in this series, I found myself contemplating the similarities between the two for the first time.
Princess Leia #1: 4 out of 5
Princess Leia #2: 3 out of 5Powered by Sidelines