Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist(s): Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson
Release Date: 5th November 2015
The story centres on Leia directly after the events of Episode IV. Frustrated at being prevented from taking part in the Rebel Alliance’s fight against the Empire because of her royal status and an expectation that she should be grieving, Leia takes matters into her own hands. With the help of the pilot Evaan, she goes on a mission to rescue the Alderaan diaspora who are being systematically hunted by the Empire. Of course the people she’s trying to ‘rescue’ aren’t necessarily so keen on the idea and the story weaves through the various double-crossings and near misses as she tries to unite the Alderaan factions.
The comic is a good read, once I started I read through to the end. Although, perhaps since I don’t read graphic novels much, I had to read it twice to really understand what was going on – I don’t think I’m very good at following the speech bubbles in the right order or picking up the visual clues. The storyline also touches upon lots of different themes – grief, duty, friendship, sisterhood, race and culture – that keep things interesting. The imagery is consistent with the Star Wars universe and there are certain nods (say, to Leia wanting a sibling) and cameos to keep it embedded in the films’ storyline. I liked Evaan as a contrasting character to Leia. However, somehow their interaction and the development of their friendship through the story left me cold. The same applies to the sisters from Alderaan who Leia tries to reunite – great storyline but I wouldn’t say I was emotionally invested in it.
Leia didn’t really look like Leia from the films except sometimes when the Dodsons got a facial expression just right. For example, when she leans on Evaan’s shoulder and says “if it kills us both Evaan” she looks just like she does in Return of the Jedi. She’s also a bit sexed up – smaller waist and bigger boobs – but I’d imagine that’s a pretty modest modification for the comic book world. I liked that they put her back into Episode IV garb, a time when she was being her best diplomatic self, and that putting her hair up meant she was getting ready for serious action! Leia’s personality is pretty consistent with her character in A New Hope. She’s annoying, bossy, ideological and trusting but gets away with it because her heart is in the right place and she knows how to get people to do what she wants. Sadly though, I think she’s missing her dry sense of humour.
On the front of the comic they have a quote that says: “Any little girl who grew up idolizing Princess Leia won’t be disappointed”. I was a little girl who grew up idolizing Luke Skywalker, because Prince Leia doesn’t get to do much other than be rescued. This comic brings Leia more into line with the new wave of Star Wars protagonists such as Rey in Episode VII and Jyn Erso in the upcoming Rogue One (from what we can tell of her from the trailer, and if Rey is anything to go by…)
However, I definitely appreciate the way writer Mark Waid lets Leia’s naïve and ideological character lead – although she gets into blaster fights and steals ships and beats people up, she doesn’t always have to be ‘badass’ in a masculine way – she solves the problems she gets herself into by being kind, fair, staying true to her principles and putting others before herself. In this sense, Leia holds her own as a character in the new Star Wars universe of complex and interesting female leads. Perhaps there’s a lot Rey and Jyn can learn from her and her Alderaan values of answering rage with wisdom and fear with imagination.
You can purchase Princess Leia TP from Turnaround Publisher Services (who generously provided the review copy of this title) via their Official Website.
Additionally, for a little extra reading, these two articles give a little added context about some of the ongoing issues in Star Wars universe – one about the lessons the new Star Wars movies should be learning, and the other breaking down how Episode VII: The Force Awakens managed to do just that.
The writer of this piece was: Helen Adams
Helen Tweets from @helenjadams