Princess Leia is a character-driven miniseries that feels true to the iconic heroine, and while the plot is lackluster, it’s nonetheless complemented by her enduring personality.
PRINCESS LEIA #1-5 IS PART OF THE CURRENT STAR WARS CANON. CHECK OUT THE TIMELINE.
You can think of Princess Leia, the five-part Marvel miniseries, as the iconic royal’s long overdue grieving process for her home planet of Alderaan. You might remember it. Supposedly a haven of beauty and artistic sophistication, it was unceremoniously detonated by Darth Vader in A New Hope; a demonstration of the Death Star’s power, and the Empire’s crushing might.
The movies never gave Leia time to mourn, but her acceptance of the planet’s destruction and the necessity of a Rebel Alliance forms the thematic backbone of Princess Leia, which is a personal story that contains enough action and iconic Leia-isms to feel like an ideal tribute to everyone’s favorite galactic princess.
It’s a small consolation for shouldering the feminine weight of the franchise for as long as she did, being for several years every female archetype rolled into one. This miniseries allows her the freedom to grow as a character or at least allows the audience to see her convictions solidify. As a story, it’s good, if perhaps not great, but as a foundational element of an iconic heroine, its importance shouldn’t be understated.
It’s easy to like Leia. Always has been. But here it’s easier to understand her defiant personality; her need to be on the frontlines, despite her symbolic importance to the Rebellion. In the early panels, she’s chastised for having an inappropriate emotional reaction to Alderaan’s destruction, and for not remaining in hiding on Yavin. (Princess Leia, like a lot of Marvel’s Star Wars work, takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.) She’s treated like a princess in a time when the galaxy doesn’t need one. This is something she implicitly understands and resents, and it informs her decision-making not just in this comic, but throughout the rest of the Star Wars canon.
But Leia’s status as one of the most beloved and important figures in Star Wars canon isn’t to say that she’s universally liked and respected in the fiction. Her ally in Princess Leia, a Rebel pilot named Evaan Verlaine, is initially resentful of her, and worried by her dismissal of Alderaanian customs and culture. You don’t get any points for figuring out how their relationship ultimately ends up, but her initial testiness makes it much more believable and interesting.
Rescuing the survivors of Alderaan, preserving what remains of the destroyed world, is not only the comic’s thematic undercurrent but its actual plot. Leia and Evaan team up on a planet-hopping journey to save an Alderanian enclave, and while there are twists and turns, it’s a relatively by-the-numbers mission that suffers from uneven pacing on the way to a hasty conclusion. The brevity of the miniseries also limits any time for flashbacks to Alderaan in its glory days, which would have helped the reader to get a sense of the culture that these people were so desperate to preserve.
Nevertheless, Princess Leia is a character-driven story that feels truer to its eponymous hero than such things usually do, and that helps to set it apart. Who doesn’t, after all, want more of Princess Leia?
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.