Headlining the first mini-series of Marvel’s hotly re-invigorated Star Wars franchise is the original trilogy’s leading lady. Just as feisty as ever, Princess Leia is a story demanding to be told in spite of vague strokes in this opening chapter. Although not outright mindless, it’s surprising that seasoned writer Mark Waid offers such imbalance in the fluff-to-substance ratio.
Waid opens strong with a provocative introduction, wasting no time diving into the new “comics as good as movie canon” arrangement between Marvel and Lucasfilm. However, beginning a story on the exact beat synonymous with “the movie’s over, get out of your seat” is a bold choice and may subconsciously dislodge attention. Fortunately, the reader and the Rebellion snap back in ready order as evacuation measures commence shortly thereafter. For all the good and bad, this section does flesh out a lot of the peripherals in small meaningful ways.
Yes, the medal ceremony always comes off questionable, calling to attention the involved amount of pomp and pageantry an intergalactic guerilla fighting organization on the run puts into its “official” proceedings but that all seems oddly in place now with disbelief suspended for the quick-chisel commemorative statue of Alliance architect Bail Organa and his wife, Queen Whatshername.
Although the rest of the “OT” gang makes appearances of varying duration and goofiness (Admiral Ackbar is a total scenery chewer, Luke = awkward), the real relationship focus is on Leia and debut cast creation, Evaan. A surviving female Alderaanian Rebel pilot, Evaan also just happens to be a disciple of Leia’s adoptive mother and determined to take the “ice princess” to task on a thing or two. Strangely enough, Leia is looking for new purpose after her outing from the Senate and destruction of her homeworld, so buttons are constructively pushed as a chance sisterhood is forged.
That being said, the back third treads more than its’ share of water. This is not a forthcoming attribute for a story in the crucial stages of setting paces. Leia and Evaan concoct an off-panel plan fraught with validation but to this point it just boils down to them sticking it to stodgy old General Dodonna like he’s the uptight dean. This is compounded by a needless aerial fighter dogfight sequence that boils down to Luke doing his best “oh, you got me good” reaction, like a Mentos commercial from a galaxy far, far away. Because… Girl-power?
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Princess Leia is an important concept greater than its on-page padding. Waid is a far more capable writer than this initial twenty pages balefully reflects. There’s an idea for a story in here somewhere yet the reader is given little to invest in beyond telegraphing between skeletons of prospect. There’s no maguffin just a vague idea that some cathartic experience will undoubtedly befall our protagonists in their “quest”.
Then again, these are late teen and twenty-somethings albeit in deep space- so maybe a wistful slice-of-life mini about blowing off steam after your planet goes kablooey is the order of the day. Either way, lead source of stars is art team of Terry and Rachel Dodson. Although more definitively stylized than the unspoken Cassady/Larocca “straight from the movie stills” approach, the Dodsons are key in the light-heartedness, injecting winks into what could otherwise be a fairly bleak backdrop. Waid would do well to meet them on level and maybe note [Darth Vader writer, Kieron] Gillen and McKelvie’s Young Avengers in better nailing the demo. Here’s hoping next issue actually goes somewhere (or at least out for a legit joyride with car selfies) …
Ackbar singing “We’ve got to install microwave ovens” is undoubtedly the pinnacle of the Star Wars universe. I need to write JJ Abrams a letter, maybe there’s still time.