In Review: Princess Leia #1

The Force is strong in this one, and I'll be buying every issue.

The covers: There are several Variants, but Marvel continues to leave fans on their own to track down how many there are. If only they were as good about covers as IDW or Zenescope, who includes all Variants on the inside covers of their books. The Main cover is by Interior artist and inker Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson. It’s an excellent image of Leia wearing the outfit she’s sporting within the book. She’s holding a pilot’s helmet in one hand and her signature pistol in the other. In the background is the smoldering ruins of the fighter she’s just landed. I really like the use of whites on the cover, allowing Leia to really stand out, and the ship and the star field behind her really pop. Really good coloring, too. The Mark Books Variant has a silhouette of Leia from the original film filled with her wearing all her many costumes from scenes from the first trilogy. Outstanding job, featuring her smooch with Han, riding a speeder bike, and in disguise as Boushh. J. Scott Campbell continues to impress with his Variant covers, which has this one connecting with the previous two on Star Wars and Darth Vader. This has Leia in her movie outfit, sporting a big blaster, with Artoo beside her projecting Han, Chewie, and Threepio, as the Falcon flies by her. Li’l Leia has crawled out of fighter she’s crashed into the snow. This is a Scottie Young cover and it’s okay, but I admit to not really being ever wowed by his work. A Teaser Variant has a “letterbox” cover, with a horizontal image framed by equally large black spaces. It’s looking at Leia from behind as Alderaan explodes. This is by John Cassaday who does good work, but all I can think of is how much she looks like Mickey Mouse. The Alex Ross Variant is just awesome. Leia is on Tatoonie, firing her blaster at an unseen foe as the droids look on. Above her is another bleak, barren world, and a Star Destroyer and several TIEs look to be bearing down on her. Just beautiful! The Action Figure Variant cover (which is a sensational idea for cover variants!) is by John Tyler Christopher, which apes the classic Kenner action figure packaging, complete with a Leia figure, with the image is of her looking worried during the Death Star attack. A must have! Butch Guice’s Variant has Leia in a classic pose from Empire, with Darth Vader’s helmet behind her, and several X-Wings flying forward. Very, very nice. The Movie Variant is a bust photo of Carrie Fisher as Leia holding a blaster close to her chest. The background is a vivid rust orange. Also a must have. Overall grades: Main A, Brooks Variant A+, Campbell Variant A, Young Variant D, Teaser Variant D-, Ross Variant A, Action Figure Variant A+, and Movie Variant A+ 

The story: This issue begins just at the ending of the Episode IV: A New Hope; the boys have got their medals and Chewbacca gives a growl. There’s then an awkward glance between Leia and General Dodonna, and Leia asks that all give a moment of silence for those lost on Alderaan. A few the troops grumble among themselves that the princess hasn’t said enough. Dodonna then informs everyone that they will have to evacuate Yavin, since the Empire now knows where they are. Eveyone has a task and they are dismissed with him saying, “And may the Force be with us all.” The smugglers leave, followed by Luke and the droids, with Skywalker saying some telling words to the princess. It’s at this moment that readers meet Leia’s new friend, of sorts, pilot Evann. I’ve read several stories that focus on what Leia does after the destruction of the Death Star, but writer Mark Waid has done something new, and as someone who’s grown up with Star Wars and read just about every original adventure in print, that’s saying something. Organa is trying to find out where she fits in with the Rebellion, but she’s not getting the answers she wants from Admiral Ackbar or Dodonna, whose comments are cold, but reasonable. It takes gruff Evaan, a fellow Alderaanean, to give her motivation. There is some very solid groundwork being laid out for Leia in future issues, and it fits completely in line with the films. Evaan is a neat original character and I’m interested to see more of her in action. I like the relationship she has with Leia, uncomfortable as it is, so far. Luke’s comment at the bottom of Page 19 had me smiling along with him. This looks like this is going to be a fun series with Waid at the controls. Overall grade: A

The art: There is some really beautiful work on this book from artist Terry Dodson and inker Rachel Dodson. Their style is very similar to Adam Hughes’s work. Leia’s hair is awesome. The way she has it up after the awards ceremony is incredible, and when a few locks get loose it exemplifies her emotions well. Evaan is great design for a character. Granted, all she is right now is a tall blonde in a fighter pilot togs, but she looks incredibly strong and I’m dying so see more of her. Luke has a few appearances in this issue and he’s great, looking incredibly young, yet by the end he looks wise for his age. The Dodsons have a very cinematic layout to their storytelling, as shown on Page 2: A silent moment between Leia and Dodonna, a thinner panel below it focuses on a distant Leia, and then the next panel pulls farther back to show the entire temple’s assemblage. When she asks for a moment of silence, Luke and Han bow their heads reverently, but the penultimate panel on the page is my favorite, showing two unnamed rebels responding in two very different ways. The likenesses to the actors are very strong, even the supporting characters, such as Dodonna. In fact, the general gets more time in this issue than I think he got in the entire movie. I really like the crosshatching used in the backgrounds, such as on Page 5. It’s an old school way to get some shading, but I love it. I also like the lines that are emanating out of Leia’s head in the panel below. The computer room sequence with Dodonna is really cool. A nice way to foreshadow the hologram sequence in Jedi, yet keep it entirely within the technology range of the rebels. The tech on this book also looks good, be it droid or ship. Right now, the Dodsons can do no wrong. Overall grade: A

The colors: Also impressive is the work of Jordie Bellaire. When I think Star Wars, I think bright, bold colors. Yes, things got dark with all the Imperial scenes and characters, but this is set after they’ve taken a major hit, so the colors should be strong and optimistic. The color scheme in the opening pages, set within the temple, maintain the color scheme of the film, with Threepio and Luke’s jacket making the strongest statement in yellows. The appearance of Evaan brings a bright splash of orange into the environment and proves to be a strong counter to Leia’s later togs. The most colorful scene is with Dodonna in the computer room. It’s just beautiful. That’s a word that has to be in a Star Wars comic, because the films are so striking visually. My favorite page was 15 for all the different colors that lit up a fairly dim setting. It’s perfect, as is Bellaire’s work. Overall grade: A+

The lettering: Wookie sounds, dialogue, sounds from Artoo, and a holographic message are the contributions from VC’s Joe Caramagna. Everything he’s doing looks good, with normal dialogue being the majority of his work. There’s not much need for sounds in this issue, but based on where the lead is going, silence won’t last for long. Overall grade: A

The final line: The purpose of this book is good and the visuals are excellent. The Force is strong in this one, and I’ll be buying every issue. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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