Princess Leia #1 (Marvel Comics)

Princess_Leia_1_CoverYou would expect the galaxy’s #1 Evil Empire defeating royal to be in safe hands as comics veterans Mark Waid and Terry Dodson take the reins of the third Star Wars-based comic from the Marvel/Disney-era in Princess Leia #1. But does this 6 issue limited series do Leia Organa justice, or is it just providing simple scraps to keep the female market pleased?

Princess_Leia_1_CoverWriter: Mark Waid
Artist; Terry Dodson
Publisher: Marvel
Price: £2.49/$3.99 from Comixology

While Princess Leia #1 is attempting to right wrongs when it comes to certain aspects of the Star Wars universe – actually including female rebel pilots, for example – it all feels a little half cocked, a little too thinly spread. While we do see the introduction of a female pilot as a protagonist – Evaan – she’s the only one drawn into the background. All the rest are male. While, yes, this is only the first issue, it doesn’t leave much hope that future issues will redress the balance between the sexes. Also, all of the main characters are white – there could have been an active decision to introduce more diversity into the Star Wars universe and yet we still have a white majority. Marvel, get your act together.

However, praise be to the art team who have drawn Evaan’s flight suit without boob plates, boob caps or skin-tight-boob-hugging material. It’s exactly the same as her male counterparts and this goes a little way to restoring faith in mainstream comics when it comes to the design of women. In fact, even princess Leia is presented in clothes fit for the situation – sensible clothes that are purely pragmatic rather than for show.

Character designs aside, the environments are straight-up Star Wars, with the little things included like holograms, X-Wing hangers and those mysterious grey packing crates the rebels have an abundance of.
The writing drops us in at the ending of A New Hope – Han, Chewie and Luke have received their medals for helping destroy the Death Star – and we are whisked along with Leia who, it turns out, isn’t popular with all the pilots. The general feeling is that she’s an “ice princess” because she hasn’t shown any sign of public mourning for the loss of her people.

Really? We’re going to go with the “women are emotional” trope? Can’t we leave behind this “writing women as women” when we could just write them as people? It does feel like if Leia was a male character, her lack of public emotion would be seen as an attempt to remain stalwart in order to continue the rebel’s cause – as General Dodonna says on the third page: “Would that there were proper time to mourn.” Conflicting much?
Princess Leia always knew the risks of going against the Empire, but she still put herself in harm’s way to get the job done. Yet now we see her movements being restricted because the Empire has put a bounty on her head. And to top that off, rather than planning her next course of action, she just sort of falls into it after speaking with Evaan. Talk about taking away a woman’s urgency.

Princess Leia has been reduced to a naive, young woman who needs her hand holding at every turn rather than being the stalwart “I will sass Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin because it pleases me” leader of the rebel alliance. We already know that she’s a strong woman who sticks to her convictions, so why does it feel like the comic is setting us up to discover this again?

pd_review2half“Princess Leia is a swing and a miss. Perhaps if this wasn’t an already pre-established character, Princess Leia #1 could have worked so well as a brand new female lead title. However, it wasn’t meant to be.”

Author: Charlie Humphries