SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for “Star Wars Annual” #2, which is on sale now.
Since Star Wars’ return to Marvel almost two years ago, the majority of the comics published have expanded on the stretch of time right in-between “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” and “Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.” We’ve learned how Darth Vader rebounded from his failure at the Death Star, watched Boba Fett’s first encounter with the Rebels and witnessed Luke Skywalker expand his own Jedi abilities. Now, “Star Wars Annual” #2 by writer Kelly Thompson and artist Emilio Laiso brings Princess Leia to the forefront and addresses one of the major moments in her life that the films mostly ignored.
The issue takes place on the planet Skorii-Lei and is told from the viewpoint of a new character, an underwater-engineer-turned-janitor named Pash Davane. As one of the many of galactic citizens caught in the battle between the Empire and the Rebellion, Pash doesn’t really view either side as good. After all, she’s left to clean up after all the battles and the Empire made her profession obsolete. That’s why Pash — nicknamed “Bash” because of the time she bashed a guy’s head in with a rock — doesn’t really know what to do when she comes across something major.
Yep, Princess Leia Organa, figurehead of the Rebellion herself. Pash doesn’t know what to do with her, since she’s not sure if more people will be placed in jeopardy if Organa lives or dies. And if she is alive, Leia can’t exactly walk around Skorii-Lei as she’s incredibly recognizable. While Pash is out getting medicine for Leia, the resilient princess wakes up and prepares to defend herself upon Pash’s return.
Leia’s on edge, but tensions between Pash and the Rebel leader cool once they talk. Complicating matters, Stormtroopers have shown up to search for Leia. The only way for Leia to make it to her rendezvous point is to trust Pash — and Pash has an idea. Of course their escape plan is altered once the Stormtroopers notice them. Pash and Leia duck into a side room on the streets of Skorii-Lei and it’s there, while slowly bleeding out from her previous injuries, that Leia gets honest.
Leia wants to get to the root of why Pash doesn’t like her, specifically, and Pash makes a point that “Star Wars” fans have been making for almost 40 years.
Leia’s entire home planet, everyone she loved, was destroyed by the Death Star just a few months earlier in the events of the first “Star Wars” film. Yet there Leia is, not grieving, and acting as if nothing has happened. That’s what Leia did in the final moments of “Star Wars,” as she was more concerned with blowing up the Death Star and comforting Luke (who had watched Ben Kenobi die) than her own grief. Leia replies that all she can do “is make their sacrifice mean something. Give everything I have to this cause the same way they did.”
But that’s not it. Leia reveals that it’s not their deaths that upset her or keep her awake at night. Instead, it’s the question of whether or not she would have done anything differently to save Alderaan, knowing that saving them might have altered the chain of events that ultimately led to the Death Star’s destruction and the Rebellion’s first victory against the Empire.
Leia says she wouldn’t change anything, and that she would “rather be a monster that believes in something, that would sacrifice everything to make the galaxy better, than be someone gifted who sits on the sidelines and watches as if it has no consequence on them.” And yeah, that last line was directed at Pash and her decision to not use her knowledge and skills to fight the Empire. As Leia concludes, she says she “will fight for it with every breath” because “anything less is for Alderaan to have meant nothing.”
So basically, while you might not see Leia openly grieving for her destroyed home world, know that every action she takes against the Empire is her keeping the memory of Alderaan alive.
After Leia’s speech and her later taking a laser blast meant for Pash during their escape, Pash comes around. As the pair finally make their way to the rendezvous point and they reunite with Han, Luke and Chewbacca, Pash and Leia have one more conversation. And Pash sees the new family Leia’s found with Han and Luke and Chewie, and she sees that the Rebellion also offers something the Empire doesn’t: hope.
Pash closes the issue with this final thought: “Bring on the painful death. So long as it comes hand in hand with hope… I’m in.”
“Star Wars” #26 arrives in stores on December 28, 2016.
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