Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Terry Dodson
Release Date: March 4, 2015
Star Wars is a flawed film. It’s one of the most beloved movies in the history of movies as well as an indispensible sci-fi/pop cultural touchstone, but lots of it makes zero sense after a close read. For instance, Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin force Princess Leia Organa to watch while they point the Death Star’s superlaser at her home planet of Alderaan and press the “Fire” button. Everything she was before her election to the Imperial Senate is incinerated in an instant. Her whole family (as far as she knew), most of her friends — The Empire kills them all and, I repeat for emphasis, They Make Her Watch.
Very soon after, she points out that Luke Skywalker looks too short to pass for a Stormtrooper and swaps quips with Han Solo. She’s got no tears but plenty of swashbuckles. So we must ask ourselves — “What kind of person goes through such a soul-annihilating episode, only to banter with her new buds unfazed hours later?” An individual equipped with supernaturally thick emotional armor? Or maybe a sociopath?
There have been so, soooooo many Star Wars novels, comics, videogames, erotic fan fics, ect., over the decades that it would be stupid to assume Mark Waid is the first writer to address the profound strangeness of Leia’s seemingly unaffected psychological state during and following the events of the first historical Star Wars film, A New Hope. However, when an onlooking rebel pilot asks, “What’s with the Ice Princess?” after Leia delivers a brief, three-sentence eulogy for Alderaan during the first sequence in Star Wars: Princess Leia #1 (an extension to the final scene of A New Hope) — it works through an understated delivery that prevents it from coming across like a meta commentary.
“Yes, it is weird how Princess Leia doesn’t seem especially bothered by the death of almost everyone she knows,” says this comic. “Perhaps we will revisit this later. In the meantime, she’s heading out on an adventure, and she’s bringing R2-D2! ‘Cause, y’know, Star Wars is supposed to be fun.”
Like its source material, the brand new Princess Leia from Mark Waid and artist Terry Dodson has its flaws, all accentuated by its inferiority to recently launched brother and/or sister Marvel books, Star Wars proper as well as Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca’s Darth Vader. But its shortcomings resonate so little that pointing them out feels like nitpicking.
Leia enlists Evaan — a new character and Alliance pilot who, unlike Leia, very much gives a damn that Alderaan blew up and doesn’t hide it — to help on a rescue mission. Evaan’s reverence for Leia’s now-meaningless throne and title of Princess deftly counteracts Leia’s semi-feigned apathy toward the same. One problem: Evaan closely resembles Carol (Captain Marvel) Danvers, which almost kills her aura of uniqueness. Almost, but not enough that we couldn’t tell Evaan and Danvers apart in a hypothetical police lineup.
Waid dials up Leia’s regal temperament beyond what she demonstrates in the original films. “Right now, we are Alderaan’s children, Evaan. You and I,” she tells her new partner in crime. “Let’s not dishonor that by speaking falsely.” We’re to believe that the same woman who uses terms like “speaking falsely” and “dishonor” in casual conversation would soon after immortalize the term “scruffy nerf herder?”
But here’s the thing — is that a mischaracterization, or is that Leia exhibiting a side to her personality that’s always had every reason to be there, but never received much of a spotlight in the movies? Maybe someone with access to the elite education guaranteed to royalty from one of the wealthiest planets in the galaxy would have to dumb herself down a few notches around the likes of hillbilly Skywalker and low-level crook Solo, only so she could tell them anything at all without getting them confused?
Minus a few points because Princess Leia #1 mostly sets up issue #2, with little plot development — or action — for it to really stand on its own. Let’s reserve final judgement until the first collection comes out.