Mark Waid and Terry Dodson decide the best way to start the next chapter in Leia Organa’s life is to revisit the final scene in “Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope.” “Princess Leia” #1 opens with the medal ceremony on Yavin IV and picks up with the Rebel Alliance evacuation of their headquarters following the destruction of the Death Star.
Dodson, with wife Rachel on inks, provides the scope of that mission in the throngs of Rebels present at the award ceremony. As in the film, the majority of the Alliance appears to be humanoid, but the Dodsons are afforded the luxury to introduce characters like Admiral Ackbar into the Marvel Comics’ “Star Wars” universe. Other Mon Calamari are nowhere to be seen, but the Dodsons fill the pages with characters, equipment and backgrounds that are indigenous to the “Star Wars” saga. The most notable exception is the shuttle Leia uses on her personal mission. Sleek and swift, the shuttle looks more apropos to a superhero comic than a “Star Wars” story.
Beyond that, the Dodsons keeps the universe very much in line with the established story and the characters are instantly recognizable. Towards the middle of the issue, the linework gets a little shaky, but Leia, Luke, Han and the rest of the cast have plenty of time on either side of that, which interludes to establish their appearances and etch their personalities into readers’ minds.
The second-hand, lived-in, used-because-they-have-no-other-option appearance of equipment and armaments present in the original “Star Wars” movies comes through in Jordie Bellaire’s colors, be it on the helmets of pilots or the static-y uncertainty of the projected holograms. The colorist provides a strong sense of time and temperature in her selections, such as the cool blues soaking into General Dodonna’s early morning message. Like the wobbliness of the figure work, readers will have to adjust to the colors. In some instances, black lines outline the figures, but there is a significant amount of figures outlined in darker shades of their solid colors. This is most prevalent in hair, especially when the two styles share a panel. I understand the intent, but the absorption of that choice is not intuitive. That said, Bellaire sells it nicely by the end of the issue.
While Chewbacca only appears in four panels, it’s not hard to imagine letterer Joe Caramagna sounding out the Wookie’s warbles. “HHHGGRHH” and “LLRRR” sound like Chewie, and Caramagna’s choice of font for those pieces of dialogue fit the tone and volume, much as R2-D2’s chatter works alongside the droid’s appearance here.
By the end of “Princess Leia” #1, Mark Waid has convinced readers that this truly is what happened between “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back.” Despite the passing of real time since the films were initially released, Waid brings readers back to that moment on Yavin when everything was sunny and happy and reintroduces the stark reality that the Rebel Alliance has just really pissed off the Empire. As the highest-ranking public figure from the destroyed planet of Alderaan, Leia is viewed as an object by the Alliance, a symbol of what has been stolen from them, and must be protected like a national treasure. Leia, as “Star Wars” fans all know, is no one’s object. She is a determined, sometimes impulsive, young lady with the mindset to do the right thing — which is exactly how Waid writes and precisely what he has her do.
“Princess Leia” #1 is a wonderful immersion into the “Star Wars” galaxy. Waid, the Dodsons, Bellaire and Caramagna bring the far, far away universe much closer in the twenty pages of this comic and leave readers anxious for more. Thankfully, there is only a pair of weeks until the next issue but, for now, “Princess Leia” #1 is waiting to be re-read, just as surely as the original movies are waiting to be re-watched.