Princess Leia #1

Princess Leia #1

Writer: Mark Waid
Penciller: Terry Dodson
Inker: Rachel Dodson
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Cover Artists: Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson

When it comes to Star Wars, we’ve seen hundreds of stories but very few dedicated to Leia. Even in Dark Horse’s long run on the Star Wars comic line, I don’t think we ever received a Leia series. Thus when Marvel revealed that they were going to do a Princess Leia mini-series, I was intrigued. While Brian Wood did try to tell Leia’s side of things in his Star Wars series for Dark Horse, it fell short for me. This was a chance for Marvel to do things right. Unfortunately, Princess Leia #1 misses the mark.

'Princess Leia #1' page 1

Page one, a sign of a bad start.

 

What hit me first was the artwork. The first page (minus the crawl) is devoid of words except a growl from Chewbacca. It’s a full page shot of Leia, Luke, Han, Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2 at the medal ceremony on Yavin with two small inset panels. It’s intended to be a big glory shot. Sadly, the artwork isn’t glorious. Of the big three, Han Solo is the only one they can manage to make look like their corresponding film character. Leia does not look like Carrie Fisher, and Luke doesn’t look like Mark Hamill. In fact Luke doesn’t even look good period. That first page has him depicted with tiny, wide set eyes and a weird looking smile. It struck me as looking awful. Furthermore, the art style is very cartoony.

The many faces of Leia.

 

Okay, seeing the first panel, adjusting to the art style, I had to brace myself. Maybe this won’t be so bad? Alas, things don’t get any better from there. Princess Leia’s face changes in every panel. It feels like you’re looking at a slightly different clone each time. Part of this is because she doesn’t catch the likeness factor for Leia, thus it’s hard to find that visual touchstone for the character. If not for her clothing, you wouldn’t know it was Leia. I think the biggest contributing factor is the lack of laugh lines on her face. Carrie Fisher had very distinctive laugh lines, while the character depicted in the comic has no laugh lines. Another issue is her eyes. They went a little crazy with the eyelashes and mascara and the eyes in the comic are consistently too squished (the width is right, the height is not). Now sometimes you have to make room for artistic style, but when the central character doesn’t look like their film sake, and for that matter, doesn’t even have a consistent look throughout the comic, that’s a visual deal breaker.

The many faces of Leia, part two.

 

Setting aside Leia and Luke, not all of the artwork is horrible. Ackbar looks good, General Dodonna is recognizable, the new female character introduced into this story, Evaan, has a nice, distinct look, and the generally layout and focus of the panels does a good job of following the action. But there are just weird elements all over the place that constantly throw visual speed bumps into the panels. From a side shot of Evann with a Jay Leno chin, to C-3PO having a softer coloring to try and make him look bright, to characters whose fingers are mashed together like mittens or mutants. In the end, I really just didn’t like the art style of this comic at all.

Yeah, that’s suppose to be Luke.

So, not every comic has to have great artwork to be enjoyable. A great story and dialog can go a long ways. Princess Leia #1 doesn’t have any of that. It’s a two fold approach. On one hand, the story is weak, and on the other hand, the characterizations are bad. The premise is Princess Leia won’t grieve for the loss of Alderaan or her parents. Everyone calls her the Ice Princess. Even Luke thinks there is something wrong with her. Yet Leia just goes around all full of spunk and fire like Alderaan never blew up and her parent are alive and well. There are no signs of grief, no signs of loss, and no clues as too why she’s acting this way. Unless we’re suppose to take to heart the crummy dialog she gives via hologram, “What is my alternative? To collapse in grief, as everyone seems to wish? To keep my head down and hide? To rule over nothing? I reject that. The last royal of Alderaan must be too strong to cower. Too certain to despair. And more than that, General, she must be too stubborn to quit–if her subjects–and her culture–are to survive.” It doesn’t feel like something Leia would say, and it doesn’t feel believable as a motivation for her to shove aside all her feelings. Leia didn’t strike me as someone who would play up the royal card so much. She might have been a princess, but she was always quick to do things you wouldn’t expect a princess to do. Yet the writer expects us to believe that Leia is adverse to the idea of having nothing to rule? That she would refer to her fellow Alderaanians as subjects? Later in the comic, she gets irked at Evaan for following the formalities of court, so there’s not even a consistency there. At some points she plays up being a princess and at other points she throws it completely aside.

Rather than reflecting any realistic ties to what’s happened in the movies and what a person would normally experience in Leia’s situation, she up and decides to run off and gather all the Alderaanians to protect them. She’s going to do this with a small spaceship and the help of one pilot. That’s it. Evaan even calls her out on how short sighted her plan is. Unless the writer has some brilliant plot point they’re going to reveal in issue #2, this is quite possibly the lamest Star Wars story idea I’ve seen since The Glove of Darth Vader.

I think the most awkward moment in the entire comic is the scene where Leia hugs Evaan, and it sums up my feelings for the story. Leia and Evaan make a nice escape in their spaceship. They’re both coming off the rush of their close call and the euphoria of pulling it off. Evaan plays it cool. She gives R2 his due for helping her out and flashes a wry grin. Then Leia smooshes her with a hug and beams away like some lunatic child in the next panel. She says “Evaan, you’re magnificent. Can we cut away all the nonsense and be friends?” Who the hell says that? How far do I have to suspend my sense of belief to try and imagine this being Leia? It’s ridiculous. Thank goodness it was on the last page because that was the nail in the coffin. The Leia in this comic is not Leia. It’s so far from Leia, that it makes Alan Dean Foster’s portrayal of her in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye look good, and that’s the story where Luke and Leia were into each other because no one knew they were brother and sister yet. There’s only one way I can think of them trying to make this portrayal work, and that’s if Leia has a mental breakdown in the next issue and we all realize she is going nuts. As is, Princess Leia #1 could be a profound example of why making everything canon could be disastrous.

Normally we rate stories with metal bikinis. A five out of five is as good as it gets, that’s storytelling at it’s best. Princess Leia #1, however, is so bad, that I don’t even want to give it a one. I didn’t like the art, I hated the characterizations, and the story was terrible. Thus I’m going to give this comic the lowest rating we can possibly give it and that’s a half a bikini. The only place this mini-series can go from here is up.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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