Canon Review: Princess Leia by Mark Waid

Princess Leia (5 issue mini-series)

Written by Mark Waid

Art by Terry and Rachel Dodson

 

Timeline:

Immediately following the events of Episode IV

 

The Saga:

Immediately following the awards ceremony that ended in Chewbacca not receiving a medal (!!), General Donna instructed all alliance members on Yavin to tear down the base and transport it to a new location. The Rebels could not take any chances after the Empire learned of their secret base. Princess Leia sought an audience with the General as she grew restless without a defined role in the Rebellion post “Death Star plans retrieval” mission. Dodonna told her that mourning the death of her parents and the destruction of Alderaan would suffice due to the bounty the Empire placed on her head. Having grown even more impatient after hearing rumors of the Empire’s desire to track down every surviving citizen of Alderaan, Leia enlisted the help of Alderaanian and Rebel pilot, Evaan Verlaine, to help her find said citizens before the Empire. Leia and Evaan essentially had to escape from Alderaan while eluding Luke Skywaker and Wedge Antilles’ attempts to herd them back to Yavin.

Their first stop was to an Alderaanian cloister on Naboo. With more trickery and deception, Leia and Evaan passed themselves off as Imperial auditors to avoid security and rendezvous with Lord Junn. Lord Junn was Leia’s contact to help find “The Melodic Order” an Alderaanian music group. Junn suggested that they meet with Mul Sanaka, a club owner about the group’s whereabouts. Short cutaways revealed that the group was being held against their will and performing for little, if any, pay from Sanaka. After a brief skirmish, Leia and Evaan freed the remaining Alderaanians and they promised to join her in her mission. Before leaving, Leia revealed Lord Junn to be a traitor with malicious intentions.

The next stop on their journey was to the fiery Outer Rim planet known as Sullust. There, they meet up with an underground dwelling group of Alderaanians. However, the Empire was in hot pursuit as one a member of “The Melodic Order” was unknowingly feeding information to a sister-turned-Imperial informant. This leak became clear as followers of Preserver Jora Astane intercepted communications between an Imperial ship and Leia’s ship using spy equipment the underground group had developed to protect them from the Empire. In a fit of rage, Astane claimed that Leia was a traitor to her people and ordered her apprehended just before a group of Stormtroopers raided the Alderaanian’s underground lair. After another short skirmish, and some quick thinking from a speeder driving R2-D2, the Stormtroopers are defeated and Astane pledges her allegiance to Princess Leia.

With the help of Nien Nunb, Leia and Evaan are able to get the surviving Alderaanians off of Sullust and onto their ship with the other survivors. Without a medal to reward Nunb of his bravery, Leia gives him her adopted mother’s chalcedony waves (Leia’s necklace from the medal ceremony). In an effort to draw out the Imperial leaker, Tula, Leia coached Tace on how to lie to her sister to reveal their plans. When it became apparent that Tace was trying to trick Tula, the Imperial Commander Dreed intervened in the conversation and order Tula to be locked away. Leia then negotiated a trade – Tula for Leia. Dreed met Leia on the planet Skaradosh for the prisoner swap. After the swap, Nien Nunb arrived with Evaan in a sneak attack on the Imperials. The attack left the commander and his Stormtrooper accompaniment dead. As the crew regrouped at Espirion, they learned of the impending arrival of an Imperial star destroyer. In a dramatic turn of events, scores of Alderaanian ships came out of lightspeed to join Leia’s mission. Combined with the Espirionian fleet of ships, the Alderannians showed the Empire a sign of unity by defeating the Imperial star destroyer.

 

From A Certain Point of View:

This series was less about Leia and more about Alderaan and Alderaanian culture. Mark Waid developed a great story that was assisted by beautiful artwork by Terry and Rachel Dodson. The narrative tool of  the Leia mission / adventure was used to explore topics such as loyalty to the Alderaanian crown, ethnic discrimination, and how a diaspora reacts to the destruction of their homeland. While the story from a macro standpoint still suffers from a lot of same short comings of new cannon stories (namely the “villain of the month” role occupied by a soon to be killed Imperial commander), the ideas presented were interesting and complex.  I was particularly intrigued by the divide within the Alderaanian culture, especially between full blooded Alderannians and their Alderannian-Espirion hybrid brethren.

Given the focus on Alderannian culture and its preservation after the planet’s destruction, I think Jora Astane’s bigoted opinions of the Alder-Espirion chief Beon Beonel is to be expected. Her exact quote upon meeting Beonel was “Our world is DEAD, Sir. All we have left is our IDENTITY. Don’t ask me to celebrate its DILUTION.” There would, no doubt, be a strain of fundamentalists or purists in a population that is seeking a new homeland. Only Leia could squash the dispute with her speech to the assembled Alderaanians preparing for battle. In this speech, she said “If one life with a single drop of Alderaanian blood survives, Alderaan survives.” The speech ensured Espirion’s participation in the battle with the Imperial Star Destroyer. Jora’s storyline is never fully resolved, however. Instead, she is last shown standing with Beonel on the bridge of a ship. I would have enjoyed hearing her opinion on Leia’s speech after the battle was won with Espirion assistance.

“We are Alderaan. We answer rage with wisdom. We answer fear with imagination. We answer war with hope. We are, each of us, important. Alderaan survives.” – Princess Leia Organa

Holocron:

One of the most interesting moments in this series was the scenes in Theed on Naboo. Shortly after arriving, Leia passed by a stained-glass tribute to Queen Padme Amidala. Leia had a vision of the figure looking down at her. This event predates Leia knowing that Padme was her mother. She also did not recognize the figure as Padme, so one can assume she was not aware of Padme prior to the reveal in Episode 6.

At one point, Leia reflected with Tace about her relationship with Tula and how it would be nice to have a sibling with a connection as strong as theirs.

The necklace Leia wore during the medal ceremony at the end of A New Hope was called “chalcedony waves” and was a gift from her adopted mother.

Characters of Interest:

Princess Leia

Evaan Verlaine

R2-D2

Luke Skywalker (cameo)

Admiral Ackbar (cameo)

General Dodonna

Queen Amidala / Padme (cameo in vision)

Nien Nunb

Beon Beonel

Jora Astane


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