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‘Princess Leia’ #1: a higher class of princess

‘Princess Leia’ #1: a higher class of princess


Princess Leia #1
Written by Mark Waid
Pencils by Terry Dodson; Inks by Rachel Dodson
Colors by Jordie Bellaire
Published by Marvel Comics

Looking on this whole operation, one has to admit to the rather shady existence that Star Wars comics have right now. The entire enterprise of taking one of the most beloved film series of two, going on three, generations, publishing it through the most recognized comic book publisher on the planet, and all under the watchful eye of a multi-media conglomerate that made turning waves of children into life-long fans into a science is about as close to printing money as one gets. While this is all good for business, it results in Disney having a tight grip on any and all property associated with the franchise. As anything implied by Star Wars #1 and what little news has trickled in about the upcoming film, it’s that Disney is determined to win over the Generation Xers whose childhoods were supposedly “ruined” by George Lucas circa 1999. For this reason, it’s a bit astounding that after kicking off a Star Wars and a Darth Vader on-going series that the next title on the release schedule is a miniseries starring the one and only Princess Leia Organa.

This is strange in the terms that one would think the much more predictable move would be to release a series following the wide-eyed Luke Skywalker or charismatic Han Solo and the fact that Disney and Marvel have decided to go with the one female member of the original Star Wars “trinity” is the closest thing to a surprise. It’s a joyous surprise, no doubt. Star Wars is rather infamous in its lack of gender diversity as far as its cinematic incarnations go, and it gets the big production treatment that the previous Star Wars and Darth Vader series have enjoyed.

The issue is written by the legendary Mark Waid and opens at the exact moment A New Hope’s credits roll  in, focusing on the direct fallout from the events of Episode IV. Remember, one of the big events of A New Hope was the destruction of Alderaan, Leia’s home planet, and it’s a major part of her story here. This is the type of legwork that would be expected from a proper expanded universe in place of dishing out overly detailed backstory to fill up a Wookieepedia page, using plot elements that were otherwise hand-waved away to be used for character development. But that’s not all of Leia’s character as this issue focuses on her place as a politician, a military leader, a fugitive, and a newfound refugee. Waid weaves these pieces together beautifully while Leia banters with Han and discusses the Rebel Alliance’s plans with General Dodonna. There is also the introduction of the brand new character, Evaan, an Alderaanian pilot who plays off  Leia perfectly. These two, along with one famous astromech droid, (sorry Luke, but it IS hers after all) head off on an exciting new adventure, making this an excellent first issue which is quite surprisingly given how little action there’s to be had and no clear antagonist yet.

On art duties are the pencil and inks team of Terry and Rachel Dodson. These two have worked wonders on previous titles, most notably Gail Simone’s Wonder Woman, though seeing them on a Star Wars title is strange. Their style is much rounder, softer, and, for lack of a better word, doughy. They are a fantastic team, but it’s a bit  jarring for the galaxy far, far away. The best example is in Princess Leia’s shuttle, which will likely serve as her main ship for this issue. It sticks among the ships of the original series with have more angular features. It reminds one of the obvious disparity in art design between Episodes IV through VI and the prequel trilogy. Given Disney has making fans forget about the prequels a top priority, it feels like an odd choice. There are also several cases of weirdly unnatural hands and other minute details. That being said, the Dodsons nail the original Star Wars look. Everything from the pilot suits to control consoles are perfect. Leia’s new white jumpsuit and action vest look fantastic. The two convey a lot of character from small mannerisms and poses. This is all made better from the fantastic colors of Jordie Bellaire, whom some may recall from The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw and a dozen other excellently colored books. The palette choices are right out of A New Hope and though much of the interior scenes are restricted to various shades of grey, Bellaire gives them some much needed atmosphere and personality.

While the Disney overlords are keeping a clench fists over anything bearing the Star Wars name, this is about the closest they’ve gotten to a bona fide risk. Though restricted to a simple miniseries, one of the first flagship titles Marvel is churning out is a solo book starting the franchise’s leading female character. The book delves into Leia’s character and her place within the Rebel Alliance. Mark Waid does a fantastic job conveying subtlety through her actions and words, Terry and Rachel Dodson give a new spin to the look of Star Wars, and it all leads up to one of the most satisfying first issues in ages.