Star Wars – Princess Leia
Life is full of strange coincidences. Last week, I planned to kick off a Star Wars run of reviews after falling in love with Rogue One, starting with the Princess Leia series by Mark Waid, but somehow missed posting it. And this week, I am heartbroken about the news of Carrie Fisher passing away from a heart attack. It made me realize just how much I idolized her role as Princess Leia and Carrie Fisher’s own fiercely unapologetic and witty personality.
Growing up, I remember watching the original Star Wars trilogy with my family and loving the story of the outnumbered but resilient Rebellion going up against the villainous Empire and somehow, against all odds, becoming victorious. Above all, I loved Princess Leia. She was exactly the kind of heroine I always wanted to be. She was clever, quick-witted, an accomplished diplomat and even a kickass fighter when she had to be. When I was in high school and the prequels came out, I remember being so excited to see Padme and being so disappointed with how Lucas and the team handled her character. In the last few years with The Force Awakens and all the comics and stories that have come out with it, I was once again ecstatic to see my favorite heroine back in action.
Reflecting on the Princess Leia comic (written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Terry Dodson) is made tougher by the loss of Carrie Fisher but I like to think she lives on in our love for Leia. As tribute to the wonderful person who brought her to life, I’d like to present my thoughts on the recent graphic novel adventure featuring the best princess we’ve every had.
Princess Leia is set immediately after the destruction of the first Death Star, with Leia awarding Luke and Han the medals for the parts they played in the victory. The Death Star’s destruction dealt a mighty blow to the Empire but as those familiar with the series know, it is not quite a death knell. Now the Rebels have the Empire’s full attention and will have to act quickly if they want to overthrow the villainous dictatorship and live to see another day. Unfortunately for Leia, who is still struggling over the loss of Alderaan, the price on her head, and her importance to the Rebellion, is too high for her to take an active part. The leaders of the Rebellion want Leia to remain safe where she can continue inspiring those around her and not where she’s risking her life on behalf of others. This doesn’t sit well with Leia and she develops a plan to rescue the remaining Alderaans who have now become targets of the vindictive Empire. Can Leia rescue her people before the Empire eliminates the last remaining vestiges of peaceful Alderaanian society?
Writing a new chapter to a beloved series cannot be easy. I can’t imagine the pressure on the writers and artists to remain true to the spirit of the original trilogy without mis-stepping as the prequels did. Luckily, Waid and Dodson more than do justice to the original trilogy and particularly to Leia herself in this mini-series. Leia has admittedly often been a bit of a Mary Sue. She’s skilled in both diplomacy and combat, clever and witty and beautiful. Normally, such a character would drive me crazy. But Leia as a character has always had a knack for being just sharp tongued and haughty enough to make her seem just a little bit less than perfect. Waid capitalizes on this by making Leia struggle with her role in the destruction of Alderaan and how much she could be blamed for Tarkin’s choice of target. While a skilled diplomat, Waid’s Leia is as naive as any young woman and doesn’t always catch on to the traitors and spies around her. She’s still a Mary Sue, but one I’ll love probably all my life. I’ll forgive a lot if you can give me a kickass heroine to look up to. The story itself is engaging and compelling, with Leia struggling to get her partner, Evaan, another Alderaanian survivor, to trust her and to see her as human. The two women work hard to save the Alderaanians that they find and learn to trust one another over the course of the series. Dodson’s art is brilliant, both comic and pretty, with clean lines and bright colors that help fill the story with hope and adventure. Leia is in the perfect hands with Waid and Dodson and I couldn’t be happier with it.
For those of us who grew up watching Star Wars, especially as a girl, Princess Leia was more than just a character. She was an inspiration. She was one of the few princesses that got out there, having adventures and solving her own problems and showing the world that a princess could be fierce and funny, smart and capable. I can never express how much that meant to me as a tomboy who loved imagining other worlds and realities. As an adult, I’ve admired how unafraid Carrie Fisher was to be herself and how frank she was about her own foibles. She was an amazing woman and I’m heartbroken she’s gone. But her legacy as Leia lives on and I’m happy to say that this series does her justice in the best of ways. Rest In Peace, Princess.