Princess Leia #5, the conclusion to Mark Waid and Terry Dodson’s brilliant miniseries, is out in comic stores today and, well, I am not ready for this book to end. So let’s take a spoiler filled look at not just the final issue but this lovely book as a whole and its wonderfully nuanced portrayal of Leia Organa.
When last we left our heroes, Leia had traded herself for Tace and diplomatic relations with the Alderaanians on Espirion were going poorly. The Imperials don’t get very far with their prize though and then it becomes a fight to get what’s left of the Alderaanians safely away from the Empire.
Princess Leia may have our heroine’s name on the cover but this is a book that, at its core, has been about women helping other women and that is never more evident than in this final issue. Want to see something pass the Bechdel test with flying colors? Pick almost any page from this book. This is a comic where we see genuine character development and relationship development and not just from the same old stock angles. Evaan’s evolution from being an unimpressed subject to a genuine friend to Leia was very well written. Waid nailed not just Leia’s fire, sass, and determination but also her strong sense of duty towards her people and her steely determination. For so much of the book, Leia had to genuinely work for everything she achieved. People didn’t just fall at her feet and do what she said simply because she’s the queen of their destroyed planet. They follow her because she proves herself to be someone they can believe in. She’s become a ruler who’s worthy of the legacies of Breha, Bail, and Padmé.
Speaking of legacies, let’s discuss the legacy of Alderaan. Leia’s goal is to do the right thing by her people and she succeeds. She rallies them together in defiance of the Empire and then leaves them in the right hands when she has to return to the Rebellion. Evaan doesn’t return with her but rather stays with the last of the Alderaanians to lead them. I’ll admit: my gut reaction was “Leia no” but once I thought about it for a moment, I liked it. This isn’t Leia abandoning her responsibilities. This is Leia realizing that she’s done what she can for her people and now she has to step back because the Rebellion needs her more now.
It’s not just Leia (and Evaan) that have made this book great. Jora’s been less willing than others to just go along with what Leia wants and has plenty of flaws but also her redeeming features. The relationship between the sisters Tace and Tula has been a little heartbreaking. How would you feel if your sister had turned you into an unwitting traitor? One of the downsides of this being only a five-issue series is that we won’t get to see the fallout explored more thoroughly. And hey! Who would’ve expected Nien Nunb to have such an integral role in the last few issues? It’s neat to see writers use him in the pre-RotJ world.
I’ve mostly been discussing the plot and the writing but it would be a crime to neglect the artwork. With Terry Dodson on pencils, Rachel Dodson on Inks, and Jordie Bellaire on colors, you couldn’t have asked for a better team for this book. The book features a very female heavy cast and not once did any of the panels make them feel needless sexualized as happens in this medium a bit too often. There was something about the art itself that just felt decidedly Star Wars especially with the variances between the looks of the Alderaanians from different planets. Oh. And have I mentioned how gloriously diverse Alderaanians are? It’s heartening to see creators embrace what this galaxy can be.
While this is tragically the final issue, I cling to hope that Marvel will decide to return to this book in the future, ideally with the same creative team. With the exception of Martha Wells, there hasn’t been a writer who’s gotten the pure essence of who Leia Organa is as a person as well as Mark Waid has in years. Star Wars always needs more stories where women take the center stage and Leia definitely deserves to be the star a bit more.
Princess Leia #5 gets a 5/5 from me along with a whole-hearted endorsement for this entire series.