All For the Wookiee: Seven of the Star-Warsiest Moments In ‘Princess Leia’ #1
Welcome back to All For the Wookiee, where we take a look at the recent Star Wars universe offerings from Marvel and pick the most Star Wars-ish moments to share with you, dear reader. Today we’re joined by royalty for the first issue of the Princess Leia miniseries from Mark Waid and Terry & Rachel Dodson, with colors by Jordie Bellaire.
As usual, spoilers follow. You have been warned.
MOMENT I: NO MEDAL FOR CHEWIE
The issue starts off almost precisely where A New Hope ends, with the medal ceremony in the temple on the Rebel base on Yavin IV. Everybody's decked out: Luke has his cool gold jacket on, Han's wearing his tunic all buttoned up, Boyd Crowder-style, Threepio and Artoo are freshly polished and it looks like Chewie took a trip to the groomers for a shampoo and flea bath.
Oh hey, did you know that the visual blocking for this scene was based on a Nazi movie? Because it was. While large swaths of A New Hope are sort of lifted from famed director Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, the medal ceremony bears more than a passing resemblance to a similar scene in Leni Riefenstahl's pro-Nazi propaganda film, Triumph of the Will. On one hand, it looks real cool. All regal and stuff. On the other hand: Nazis.
So yeah, kind of gross. It's maybe my least favorite bit in the Star Wars Saga, and yes, that includes Jar Jar, the racist caricatures and the brother-sister romantic kissing. While I can't deny its Star-Warsiness, I also can't vouch for it with clean conscience.
MOMENT II: THE AFOREMENTIONED BROTHER-SISTER KISSING
I get what Mark Waid is trying to do here, by highlighting the fact that Luke and Leia share a strange bond that they don't quite understand, but it also kind of hangs a lantern on the fact that they're brother and sister who have kissed, possibly with more than a little tongue. It's mildly unsettling, yet still pretty Star-Warsy, so…
MOMENT III: IT'S A TRAP
This issue also introduces us to Admiral Ackbar, the Mon Calamari leader who doesn't show up until the battle of the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi. Ackbar is characterized as a brilliant tactician and strategist. There's an arc in the Clone Wars TV series that showcases his abilities as he teams up with Obi Wan, Anakin and Asokah Tano to defeat the Separatist forces being led by a shark guy who looks like a Street Shark, which, we all know, is pretty jawsome.
One thing that made me scratch my head here was that Ackbar was already an Admiral this early in the Galactic Civil War, but whatever. I'm forgetting that this is a whole new canon, so if Mark Waid and the Lucasfilm Story Group say he's always been an admiral like Jack Torrance has always been the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, that's that. I could armchair edit and say it might be cool if he were merely a commander here, a slight nod toward his bright future, but ah, who cares? (Besides me, obviously.) I'm more concerned with the fact that he apparently does not 100% care for humans, which, can you blame him, though? Pretty good Star Wars here.
MOMENT IV: DODONNA STOP THE BEAT
Here we have Leia talking to General Jan Dodonna, who you may recognize from A New Hope as the guy who has like one line, so of course he has an extensive Wookieepedia entry. All you really need to know is that he's a general, he has a legit beard, and has a pretty great duster. In this scene, he's basically grounding Leia, who's trying desperately to keep busy to stave off her grief over the fact that her entire family, culture and planet were blown the eff up by Grand Moff Tarkin's (RIP) Death Star.
The written language you see on the holoprojection is called Arubesh, and it's the standard written alphabet for the Star Wars universe. The standard spoken language is called Basic, though I'd wager that Huttese is possibly more widely spoken, especially the further you get from the Galactic Core. This is largely, woefully, unimportant; but I figured I should share the burden of this nerd knowledge with you all.
I like this little touch, that the Empire is so pissed off at Leia --- a former Senator --- for publicly joining the Rebellion and helping to blow their latest murder-planet, that they've put a hit out on her. It's just so vindictive and makes a lot of in-universe sense. It also reminds you that you're reading a comic set in a universe where you are essentially cheering for a bunch of insurgent terrorists.
MOMENT V: YOU JUST GOT DROIDCEPTION-ED
I have no idea how this even works, but somehow Leia managed to get a hologram of Artoo showing a hologram of Leia and made it all look real enough that Dodonna fell for the ruse. We can quibble about why she needed the two layers of deception when her original holomessage would suffice, but it's a funny trick, so let's just roll with it.
I'm trying to place the design of the ship that Leia and her Alderaanian escort, Evaan, sneak off in, but I'm coming up blank. It's not my favorite design, in any case. Still, the holo-prank is pretty good Star Wars, so we can overlook something like a bum ship design, right?
MOMENT VI: GOIN' ROGUE
Evaan and Leia's escape is impeded by Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles, arguably two of the Rebellion's greatest fighter pilots. In the former Expanded Universe, the two of them founded Rogue Squadron, an elite group of pilots who flew dangerous missions for the Rebellion. If you want to read more Rogue Squadron stuff, there's some pretty good Dark Horse comics as well as a series of novels. One of the pilots was a space horse person, if I'm remembering correctly, so that's pretty cool.
Whether the new canon will include a Rogue Squadron remains to be seen, but I, for one, would be very into reading such a thing.
FUN FACT: The actor who portrayed Wedge Antilles, Denis Lawson, is the uncle of Ewan McGregor, who played Obi Wan Kenobi in the Prequel Trilogy. I feel like I read an anecdote where McGregor brought Lawson to the studio lot where they were shooting one of the Prequels and Lawson, upon seeing George in one of his ubiquitous flannel shirts, proclaimed that he was certain Lucas wore that same shirt in 1977, but I can't find anything to back this up. So, please don't sue me, Mister Lucas. TL/DR: George Lucas likes plaid shirts.
Anyway, this is a great little moment, with Leia bound and determined to escape, no matter how many hotshot pilots the Rebellion sends after her.
MOMENT VII: HOLD ME, LIKE YOU DID BY THE LAKE ON NABOO
Our issue ends with Leia and Evaan making the jump to lightspeed on their way to Naboo. Leia's plan, according to her double-fake-out holo-message to Dodonna, is to try and find all the remaining Alderaanians in the galaxy, as a memorial to her parents and her homeworld. But, why Naboo?
I … have no idea. But I like how this book and the Gillen/Larroca Darth Vader have taken advantage of our knowledge of the Prequels to inform things happening in the time period these comics are set. No matter what Lucas has said, he was making a lot of this up as he went, and because of that, missed a lot of opportunities to sew things up a little tighter. (Which reminds me: does Leia know she's adopted?) Now, with the benefit of hindsight, we're able to tie in Leia's history with her birth mother's homeworld.
Plus, this leaves the door wide open to a Jar Jar appearance. You know you want it.
Aaand that's it for this installment. I have to say, of all the announced comics from the Marvel relaunch, this is the one I was the most leery of, mainly because I love Leia as a character, but I feel like she's real hard to do "right."
I'm not sure Waid really knocked it out of the park like Darth Vader or Star Wars have, but I liked enough of what was going on to stick around. Honestly, had Star Wars not charged as hard as it did out of the gate, this would feel like a fine debut issue for a miniseries, but as it is, it's sort of a lot of talking to set a story in motion that we already knew was coming. Not bad, just not great.
Also, it's worth nothing that the Dodsons, while probably not the ideal fit for the tone of this book, managed to bring an expressiveness to the storytelling that the overly-referenced stuff in Cassaday and Larocca's work lacked. It had personality, which was a welcome change of pace. I'll take "slightly exaggerated" over "aggressively on-model" any day.
Oh, and Jordie Bellaire's colors are always wonderful. But you knew that. I would say that she should color every book ever, but she kind of already is, so I will shut up and enjoy the embarrassment of riches.
We'll be back in a few weeks for a roundup of the Star-Warsiest moments in comics. Until then, Make Mine Star wars.