When I first read Princess Leia, I thought it was a light story that was ok. In fact, I wasn’t even going to review it. Then for some reason, I couldn’t shake the story. I kept thinking about it. So I gave it a reread. It’s not light at all. In fact, I think its one of the best comics I’ve read in some time.
Mark Waid wrote the story with Terry Dodson doing the pencils and Rachel Dodson inking the series. Jordie Bellaire colored the run.
The story picks up where Episode IV ends. We are at the medal ceremony and our heroes are parting ways. However, every one treats Leia as she should be grieving. She should; her planet was blown to bits in front of her. Because of interplanetary travel, there are surviving Alderaanians. This becomes the mission of Leia in this 5 issue run.
Waid does a brilliant job of having people interact with the Princess. Some try to protect her, others think she is too unfeeling, and more than one person underestimates her. Waid gives her depth, much more than what you get in Episode IV, by showing her in flashbacks interacting with her father and mother. While trying to find all survivors of Alderaan, she encounters trouble from people who don’t want to be saved. She has to deal with issues of different races from Alderaan not getting along. Of course, the Imperial fleet is constantly on her tail.
Waid’s Leia is a fully developed Leia who is not a damsel in distress. She is a leader whose people are in distress. If the story only focused on her, it would be a good story. What makes it a great story is the introduction of other characters that help tell Alderaan’s story. Evaan, Leia’s accomplice, is an Alderaan patriot, who rebukes the princess for not mentioning Alderaan in her ceremony speech. Tace, a survivor who Leia picks up before Imperials get to her, has a sister working for the Imperials (it’s a galactic civil war so this is bound to happen) and through her communications puts the mission in jeopardy. Finally, Waid’s greatest accomplishment here is making Alderaan, a planet that doesn’t exist anymore, a character. He makes through his characters an Alderaan that is something worth fighting for even it’s only an idea.
The Dodson drawings are top notch. They do something that is hard to do. They create the obligatory beautiful women, take Evaan for example, but don’t misshape her or put her in positions that are just there to titillate. When I first read the story, I really didn’t enjoy the coloring. I though it was too bright, almost cartoon like. This was where I made my biggest mistake in judging the story. Bellaire’s coloring is the best thing about this comic. The bright colors here, in a story that is dark in tone, represent hope. Alderaan’s survivor’s need hope. Leia needs hopes. By choosing this palate, Bellaire’s coloring echoes the driving force behind the story -hope.