And so I dove in, needing a Star Wars fix after seeing The Force Awakens and partially wishing I was reading a Rey comic book instead. For me, Rey is the culmination of all that we were initially promised Leia would be. Remember that part in The Empire Strikes Back when Yoda promises, “There is another?” When did that ever come to fruition?
But, I was instantly invested in Leia Organa’s extended story here. This comic series (at least Issue #1, so far) sets the stage well to tell the Princess Leia story I wish had been carried the full length of the films. She’s strong, genuine, and atypical like the enduring image I hold of her, leaning down to relay her message to R2-D2 before she is discovered by the invading Stormtroopers.
The story in Princess Leia # 1 picks up flawlessly where A New Hope leaves off. In fact, the first images in this book are from the award ceremony that closes out the original film. Leia walks off the stage from the ceremony of the film and into the storyline of this comic series.
And, it’s an instantly touching and deep storyline – one that has Leia setting out to gather her fellow (now homeless) Alderaan natives for twofold reasons: to save their lives as the Empire hunts down the last of the Alderaanians and, simultaneously, in order to save her culture.
My absolute favorite aspect of this book is the interplay between expectation and reality. Leia is constantly told she is a certain way (frigid) and from this her grieving process judged as flawed by the other characters. I read forward warily, worried that she would “learn a lesson” about showing her emotions and relating to others in a specific way. But, the story ventures much deeper than this cliché.
Leia’s first order of business is to defy a strict command to stay put (for her own safety) and set out on her own mission with a Rebellion pilot, a woman named Evaan, also from Alderaan, who seems to hate her (for aforementioned supposed frigidness in light of the genocide of their culture).
All the while, there is not so much as a judgment on either woman for their beliefs - not on Leia for her supposed coldness and not on Evaan for her unyielding judgment of Leia. It’s refreshing not to be led down a path of emotion, not to be told by the story how to feel about its characters. This book has enough wherewithal to move the plot forward without feeling manipulative, while also using the characters’ differences to its advantage.
Now that is unique storytelling, and it has me looking forward to Issue #2.