BLOG Princess Leia Goes Top Gun – The Verdict

Star Wars #1

Written by Brian Wood
Illustrated by Carlos D’anda
Colours by Gabe Eltaeb
Lettering by Mike Heisler
Covers by Alex Ross
Published by Dark Horse Comics • £2.20

As you may have read here, I and my fellow blogger Al Stuart conducted a little experiment this week. We each wrote a piece on the idea of the forthcoming Princess Leia Star Wars comic based on just our initial reaction to a promotional news report without having read anything else.

Now we move on to part two of the experiment wherein we reanalyse our thoughts having read part one of the book in question.

Star Wars “In The
Shadow Of Yavin, Part 1”

Review by Steven Ellis

To begin with I should say that I really enjoyed this comic. The art, by Carlos D’Anda, is lovely. It’s full of fantastically-drawn X-Wings and other shiny Star Wars ships. The character depictions are good too and the action is clear and concise. I was, however, struck by something that I’ve noticed pops up a lot with any Star Wars comic and that is that no-one can ever seem to draw a stormtrooper’s helmet correctly.

Brain Wood’s script is very good and his grasp on the characters seems spot on. There is far more going on here than just Leia being made some sort of special-ops solider. If anything, the news report I read sold it short focusing on just the sensationalist news of Leia as a hot-shot pilot. A girl driving a space ship! Shock horror!

Set just after the destruction of the first Death Star, the story starts with Luke, Leia and Wedge on a mission in search of a new base for the Rebel Alliance. The book also has some interesting introspective stuff from Darth Vader who is still reeling from the loss of the Death Star and is not exactly in the Emperor’s good graces at the moment. And we also get Han and Chewbacca setting off on an as yet un-revealed mission.

It’s a very talky, thoughtful book with several of the characters pondering the events of A New Hope and wondering what the future might bring. I will admit it was interesting to see this very early time set just months after the end of A New Hope. This book had a little feel of the ’80s Marvel comics in both tone and look. Although the Star Wars “Expanded Universe” fan in me knows just how busy Leia’s life was in the year immediately following the Battle of Yavin and the planets subsequent evacuation, so I did have a little trouble reconciling the established history with wedging yet another adventure in there.

As a set-up this was a great opening book. Unfortunately I spent most of the book waiting for the reveal of Leia as hot-shot pilot special-ops girl to kick in. There’s even a little joke where one of the deck hands has a pop at Leia about not really being a pilot where Luke jumps to her defence. It still all smacks of stunt casting. That the writer gives a nod and a wink to this doesn’t diminish that feeling.

I still stand by my initial reaction that placing Leia here as the founder and leader of a small secret special-ops group feels a bit out of character; why would one of the figure heads, and most recognisable people in the Rebellion, be given such a job? But, as I said, this is a far more interesting and complex story than the news item I had read suggested. I do still feel Leia could be replaced by any number of other female characters and the final panel did make me groan a little. As did the implication that Luke would be joining her in this secret group. Next thing you know we’ll have Boba Fett turning up too.

All that said, I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Star Wars just for it’s focus on the post New Hope setting because it is an interesting time in the franchise, and although once again I was struck by the idea that Star Wars needs to stop looking to the past and trying to wedge new things in amongst the old and they really should leave the more well know characters alone, I do realise that a lot of that comes from my general feeling of tiredness with the Star Wars as a written franchise. But I do still feel that the main characters have been used far too much and really do need a rest. Their lives are pretty much mapped out with giant crisis after giant crisis for the entire length of the 50 odd years of the “Expanded Universe” and filling up every tiny moment in between is really getting a bit silly. Even a supposed “fresh take” like this doesn’t feel that fresh to me.

Next page, the alternate review…