Friday, 3 July 2015

Marvel Star Wars: Princess Leia Review (Mark Waid, Terry Dodson)

Princess Leia is the third release from Marvel’s new 2015 Star Wars line - and it’s also the worst so far! 

Like the other two books, this series is set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Leia’s home planet Alderaan has been blowed up by the Death Star so she decides to fly off with Artoo and a female Alderaanian pilot called Evaan, and collect as many surviving Alderaanians from the rest of the galaxy to… uh... and then the books ends after five issues! 

I think Mark Waid’s forgotten how to write interesting comics. They’re always competently written but by god are they tedious to read! My biggest problem with this limited series was how completely boring it was! Leia’s quest is vague - just go, somewhere, and find some people - and lacked a villain - the Empire are just hovering in the background as always. There’s no drive to the story which isn’t that great a premise to start with anyway, and no tension. Waid finds second gear early on and never leaves it for the remainder of the book.

Waid doesn’t do much with Leia. She’s the same character at the end as she was at the start and the same character that she was from the movies. For all the focus, Leia is as Leia does and the extra space doesn’t expand her character from strong-willed female protagonist to anything more. 

If you thought Waid would look deeper into her character to maybe show her grief over losing her homeworld, you’d be wrong - a handful of panels are devoted to some semblance of emotion over her people’s genocide before it’s brushed aside again. 

The book ends so abruptly too - I guess she saved enough Alderaanians? Or maybe that was all there was of them, in two locations? Eh, whatever! 

Terry and Rachel Dodson’s art was pretty good - very warm, flowing lines in contrast to the sharpness of Salvador Larocca’s in Darth Vader and John Cassaday’s in Star Wars. I did have a problem with issue #3 where Leia and co. are halted by a group of armed guards who are shown to be at least 10-15 feet away from them but in the next panel Leia is stood right next to a guard and easily swipes his gun - no-one shoots at her either! Sloppy spatial distortion and bad plotting. 

Speaking of bad plotting, in issue #5 on the surface of the desert planet Skaradosh, a spaceship rescues Leia and co. out of nowhere. One of the Empire’s goons says “No ship could have gotten by us undetected” - so why did it? Because plot convenience! 

Oh yeah, and who isn’t a fan of the shitty prequels? Leia makes a pit stop at Naboo to remind us Natalie Portman was her mum (though Leia’s unaware of this). Any reminder of those movies is bad juju, at least for me, and didn’t make me like this book any better. At least we didn’t see that loathsome creature - you know the one. Even the sarlacc would spit him out!

Mark Waid’s Princess Leia is a character-driven story that doesn’t show us anything new about the character or tell a memorable tale. Boring, aimless and eminently skippable, Princess Leia shows us why Star Wars works best as an ensemble space opera.

Star Wars: Princess Leia

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