In March 2015, Marvel debuted the limited-series Princess Leia, shortly after the titular and Darth Vader series were released. Both of the latter series take place in the same time period, a few months after the Battle of Yavin. Princess Leia begins just moments after the medal ceremony in the conclusion of A New Hope. The ripple effects of the Death Star’s destruction in what it represents symbolically and the culmination of decades of construction and resource-gathering are explored in those series, but the more personal trauma of the terror experienced first-hand wasn’t explored until Princess Leia. Writer Mark Waid wrote a series centered around Leia Organa grieving the loss of her homeward, Alderaan, and doing what she could to protect the survivors. This series had a strong debut but later the story went a bit off the rails but this second issue is one of my favorites of the newer Marvel titles. Leia Organa…saving what she loves.
The issue opens with Leia recalling a childhood memory on Alderaan over a dinner of boiled “ruica” – the equivalent of cabbage, I assume. Breha and Bail Organa always made sure their daughter ate her vegetables. Leia recalls the combat training she’s receiving from an unnamed instructor. The young royal excels in her training, overpowering her instructor just as Bail interrupts the lesson. The balance in Leia’s education is something he’s concerned about and it appears the princess has shifted more towards combat training. Bail reminds her the most important part of her royal duties is to know the culture of Alderaan. Bail notes their cultural heritage and contributions to the galaxy are what define Alderaan. We later learn in Claudia Gray’s Leia, Princess of Alderaan Bail and Breha would try to keep their daughter out of the fight, but Leia wouldn’t be sidelined.
These moments between Bail and Leia are great and what really sold me on this issue. I really wish we’d seen Breha, as she’s only barely visible in one cell. I’m still fascinated with this era of Leia’s life and it’s great writer Mark Waid took the time to explore this. Leia recalls these memories as she and a Rebel pilot named Evaan make their way to Naboo. Leia’s concerned the Empire’s pursuing a vengeful strategy of eliminating every Alderaanian survivor. There’s a widely known Alderaanian community on Naboo and Leia believes the Empire will be pursuing them first. Evaan also notes it’s the birthplace of Palpatine, which only increase the chances of an Imperial presence. With Bail’s words feeling fresh in her mind, Leia’s stepped away from the Rebellion and all its resources to risk her life. Leia’s comic adventures have been wonderful and Princess Leia did a great job getting us primed for so much more to come.
The artwork by Terry Dodson, inker Rachel Dodson, and colorist Jordie Bellaire is very distinct from other Star Wars titles. The past breaking through to Leia’s present continues and this is one of my favorite images from the comics. Padmé’s sad expression like a ghost trapped in a painting is haunting. If there’s a huge void in Leia’s story I feel like its her discovering the history of Padmé. I know we’ve had glimpses but I’d love a more fleshed-out story at some point. No mention of Padmé in the sequel trilogy seemed very strange to me and I want to know more about the regard other characters no doubt felt toward her legacy.
Evaan Verlaine, who we also discover hails from Alderaan, is another highlight of the series. She never appeared in the comics after Princess Leia but she did show up in the game Battlefront II: Inferno Squad. We also know Cara Dune is out in the galaxy as one of the last Alderaanian survivors, so there’s the likelihood she’s acquainted with Leia and Evaan. There’s another potential to tell a story using those three characters. So far, The Mandalorian is the only story in Star Wars I can think of that hasn’t utilized in the comics or books to expand on character backstories. Even Galaxy’s Edge and video-games get some kind of comic or novel in the canon. It’s likely we won’t hear more about Dune or what became of Alderaanian survivors in that era unless it’s in the show. If we ever get a story like that it will either be mentioned there or we won’t see it until after The Mandalorian has completed it’s own story.
Leia finally catches up with the survivors of her planet, promising to protect them so they can keep what’s left of Alderaan alive. We learn there are a lot of people trying to exploit the vulnerability of the survivors. The protection of these now displaced people is all Leia’s concerned about. She’s ready to walk away from the Rebellion to ensure their survival. We all know that doesn’t happen but it underscores Leia’s dedication. She carried the grief with her, as it comes up in future stories, somewhere in her mind. The Organa lineage is a part of Leia as much as the Skywalker or Solo connections. This series does a great job of re-establishing what it meant for Leia to be a leader. This also came before The Force Awakens, when we weren’t sure exactly what Leia’s role would be in the sequel trilogy.
It’s revealed the Empire is on their way to Naboo, with an Imperial officer manipulating her sister for information on their whereabouts. The Empire is coming! Like I mentioned, the later issues of this series were not my favorite, but the series overall is definitely worth a read. It’s only five-issues so you can get through it pretty quick. Leia is one character I never get tired of learning more about. I feel like there’s still so much story to tell about her life. This comic was a great start and there’s still plenty left to tell!