In the last year there has been a focused push from Marvel to put out more superhero comics that would appeal more to women. Titles like Ms. Marvel and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl have been pretty successful (though not perfect) at hitting their intended mark. Now that Marvel has reacquired the Star Wars license, they have added Princess Leia to their female focused lineup.
When I say female focused, I don’t mean that these books are designed to only appeal to women. In fact, I have enjoyed all three of them, as have many other people of varying genders and backgrounds that I know. At no point did I feel like Mark Waid was attempting to pander to women. This was a generally strong story about a pretty kick ass character. The story starts off immediately after the end of A New Hope, literally right after Han and Luke turn around and everybody cheers. After delivering some less than stirring remarks at the award ceremony, Leia finds herself a figurehead of the Rebellion with nothing to do. While everyone else scrambles around, working to pack up the base before the Empire shows up, Leia is basically told that she should be a symbol, keep her head down and grieve. Again, this is not done in a patronizing manner, but out of a well-meaning (though wrong) sense that she is in need of protection. After a little soul searching and prodding from another Alderaan survivor, Leia decides that she just can’t sit idly by and instead embarks on a mission of her own choosing.
Leia has always been a kick ass leading lady. She is regal, while at the same time being tough and, when called for, sensitive. Mark Waid does a good job of capturing this. I can already sense that the next issues are going to dig very deeply into Leia’s character and show as she deals with what is certainly the most trying time in her life up to that point–probably ever. While I’m not 100% convinced that Leia’s voice is being written correct, it is certainly close enough that I don’t feel like this is some new, different character than the one I know and love. I’m also quite interested in where Evaan, the female survivor, is headed. She’s got a healthy respect for Leia’s position as leader of her people and as royalty, but her mind isn’t made up on Leia as a person. There is strong deference given, however it is currently out of a sense of obligation, and less of personal respect. I sense that will change over time, and I’m curious to see how.
Though his name has not been on my radar, I’m more than familiar with the work of artist Terry Dodson. He has worked on a number of X-titles which I’ve read over the last few years, and I generally enjoy his style. What I appreciate most about his work in this particular book is that he stays very close to the look of the original characters without looking photo-referenced. Leia looks like Carry Fisher without looking like a traced picture. The same can be said for lesser characters that join the book like Admiral Ackbar and General Dodonna. I instantly knew who I was looking at (Ackbar is kind of an easy one, I’m aware) and found myself thinking how cool it was that we were digging this deep into the Star Wars universe this quickly. There are some great uses of color and backgrounds in this issue as well. I was particularly impressed by the scenes where Leia and Dodonna were speaking. The holographic planets provided a plot relevant backdrop as well as a wonderful splash of color to the conversation.
Looking back at the three new Star Wars titles that Marvel has put out, Princess Leia is probably my favorite of the first issues. I look forward exploring this period in the fictional universe from a perspective that has really gone under appreciated. 5/5 Death Stars