Princess Leia: Royal Rebel

royal_rebel_coverToday I spent my morning with Princess Leia: Royal Rebel, part of the Scholastic Star Wars Backstories series. Aimed at fans in grades 3-7, it was a quick read: only 128 pages including a glossary and index, and many of those filled with captioned illustrations. Although imperfect in some aspects, it was a cute book and worth the little time it took to devour it.

The book is presented as an in-universe biography of the famous Princess and General and includes an illustrated section on her most famous “friends, family, and foes.” The in-universe timeline for the book is interesting, in that it mentions the events of The Force Awakens, therefore presuming that the key events of the film (the destruction of Hosnian Prime, the death of Han Solo, the discovery of Rey and her Force-sensitive nature) have already occurred. Knowing what we do about Episode VIII following so quickly on the heels of The Force Awakens, it took a little fudging in the suspension of disbelief department for me to get past that.

The introduction is done in first-person by General Leia Organa herself and dovetails nicely onto events in Moving Target–wherein an archival droid is pestering her for a memoir. “I’d much rather be doing things than talking about things I’ve already done,” Leia bemoans in the opening paragraph. And the General’s reticence on matters of her life comes in handy later in the volume.

The body of the book itself is basically a Leia-centric retelling of everything we know about Star Wars. With an at-a-glance chronology that begins with Padme and Anakin meeting, we get a summary walk through the saga focusing on where Leia was and what she was up to at any given time (including her appearances in Moving Target, the Princess Leia comic books, and Star Wars Rebels). There are notable gaps in information available about the years between events of Return of The Jedi and The Force Awakens. “These records,” the imaginary biographer posits, “may have been lost when the First Order destroyed the system of Hosnian Prime.” It is also alluded to that perhaps little is known because after the war the Princess kept her private life…well…private. It’s a useful device for allowing this book to bridge the gap in the saga without giving anything away.

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Baltimore Comic Con 2015: Interview with Mark Waid

Leia_Dodson1Given what a fan I am of Mark Waid’s Marvel work, briefly chatting with him about his work on the Princess Leia series was one of the highlights of my Baltimore Comic Con this year. I loved the heck out of those five issues and was excited to have the chance to ask him all the questions the book left me with and to talk Star Wars in general.  And hey!  It’s not every day that you get to interview someone who just won the Harvey for Best Writer the night before.

Bria: The first question we always ask everyone is how did you become a Star Wars fan?

Mark Waid: I’m old enough to say I was there on opening day. I was there… all right, I have a story. This is a horrible, horrible story that makes me look like an idiot. So… it’s not true. I was not there on opening day. My friends and I got together that weekend and there were six or seven of us and we were having the same argument that you always have when you get six or seven people together on a Saturday night in a car with no direction. They go “Okay, we need to see a movie.” Okay, well there’s a couple of movies opening up this weekend. What do we see? Everyone wanted to see this one movie and I fought really hard to see this other movie because I said, “Look, this is going to be amazing. It’s going to be awesome. It’s going to change your life.” So because I fought for it, we went to see… You Light Up My Life. And I never lived it down. The next weekend, we all saw Star Wars and they were all like, “You idiot! What is wrong with you?” Then that was it. Like everyone else, I saw it a dozen times that summer and it was amazing.

Which is your favorite film?

The second one by far. It just… to manage to take all the stuff that made the first one cool and then add some gravitas was really awesome.

Favorite character? (I know that’s a hard one.)

It is a hard one! I really do think it is Leia.

Mine too! So did you pitch Marvel to do Star Wars? From what I hear, everyone and their mother were calling the editors and saying “I really want to write it!” or did they come to you?

They actually came to me and they said, “We want a Princess Leia series. Are you interested?” While I love the character, I didn’t have a story. I didn’t know where we wanted to go with it and I was on the verge of saying, “Look I appreciate this but this is not for me.” And then I started thinking about… if you let me do it the day after A New Hope ends; if you let me do it the day after and you get a chance to really delve into what it’s like for her to have lost everything? Then I’m in and they totally bought that. That’s really where it stood; the idea that in first movie, there’s no time for it to sink in for her. Continue reading

Tsar Wars: Return of the Alderaanians

Welcome to the final part of our royal team up with Eleven Thirty-Eight.  Jay and I have already discussed monarchy as a whole, Naboo, Hapes, and now it’s time for Alderaan.

Bria: I’d like to start by blaming YOU AND YOUR EMPIRE FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF A PEACEFUL PLANET, YOU JERK.

Jay: it’s not my fault! It’s not my fault. It was all Tarkin’s doing. Seriously, if you don’t believe me, check out the old Radio Drama — Vader told Tarkin not to destroy Alderaan and basically said the Emperor wouldn’t approve, and Tarkin did it anyway. I’m super curious to see if Alex Bracken will use that part of the audio drama in The Princess, the Smuggler, and the Farm Boy because I *NEED* it to still be canon, otherwise I will hate myself.

Bria: She probably won’t just to spite you.  Yes, specifically you.

Jay: Considering how many people enjoy specifically spiting me, it wouldn’t surprise me. But I have hope yet, she’s a nice person. :p If not, well, um…. are you guys taking defectors or do I have to wait for the fall session?

Bria: We’ll look into seeing if we can arranging you non-explosive transportation.  Before it was so rudely and cruelly blown up, Alderaan actually seems to have had one of the more traditional monarchies in the Star Wars universe; at least in Earth terms.

Jay: Traditional, if confusing as heck. Under the EU, the Organas were the royal family of Alderaan. Bail Organa was the viceroy (which… doesn’t make any sense, as a viceroy is a monarch’s representative but words don’t mean anything in space I guess) and so his adopted daughter Leia was the Princess of Alderaan. Breha, who wasn’t Breha yet, was the Minister of Education. Until ROTS, when it turned out that *she* was the Queen of Alderaan and Bail was prince consort. Luckily for us, the EU already had the “Alderaanian Ascendency Contention” from the Zahn books and… Bria, this is getting complicated, isn’t it? Continue reading

Review: Princess Leia #5

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.

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Review: Princess Leia #4

Did you think that Princess Leia #3 was too slow? Too formulaic? BOY DO I HAVE A COMIC FOR YOU THEN. Princess Leia #4 by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson is out in comic stores today and it DEFINITELY takes things up a notch.

Thus far, Leia’s mission to save her remaining Alderaanians have been successful with only a few bumps along the way. Problem is, they have an unknowing traitor in their midst in the form of young Tace and her sister Tula. Add in the reunification talks with Espirion and there’s a lot at stake for the remnants of Alderaan.

Waid manages to pack a lot into about twenty pages worth of story; enough that it’s rather impressive. This is one of those issues where we really get to see all the facets of Leia as a person and as a leader. It’s not hard to see the lessons learned from Breha and Bail about ruling by listening to your people and caring about them as opposed to being totalitarian. It’s fitting for a woman who carries the guilt of her planet’s destruction on her shoulders along with the responsibility for all those left.

Evaan has taken a bit of a more backseat these last two issues but she’s still definitely the standout new character in these books who will hopefully have a lot of staying power in this new canon. The evolution of her relationship with Leia has been absolutely fascinating to watch especially when contrasted with the other prominent Alderaanians featured in the book.

Terry Dodson’s art continues to be lovely and Jordie Bellaire’s colors elevate the book to whole new level of pretty. Everything about Tace’s hair and nails is just spot on perfection. Honestly, what else is there to say at this point?

Princess Leia #4 gets a strong 4/5 from me this month along with lots of anticipation for the finale issue.

Review: Princess Leia #3

Leia and Evaan have found some Alderaanians and are now off to Sullust in search of more, unaware of the traitor in their midst. Princess Leia #3 by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson is out today in comic stores and continues to live up to the high standards of the previous issues. Naboo may not have gone completely according to plan but Sullust… Sullust is really not what Leia expected. The Alderaanian Enclave there is lead by a woman who calls herself Preserver Jora Astane and she is really not a fan of the Princess.

There are some mild spoilers in this review.

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Review: Princess Leia #2

Princess Leia’s mission to track down all her remaining Alderaanian survivors continues as she lands on Naboo with her new accomplice and fellow Alderaanian Evaan. Mark Waid, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, and Jordie Bellaire knock it out of the park yet again with the second issue that’s in stores today!

This review contains mild spoilers.

Our Alderaanian heroines arrive on Naboo to find retrieve the Melodic order; a famous performance group from their homeworld. It will hardly be an easy task though to elude Imperial detection… even with the help of Leia’s old friend Lord Junn.

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Review: Princess Leia #1

Leia_Dodson1Remember back in August when I wrote about what I hoped for with a Mark Waid Leia comic? Yeah, he nailed it. I won’t beat around the bush here. I loved this issue. Go to your comic store right now and pick up Princess Leia #1 by Mark Waid with art by Terry Dodson, inks by Rachel Dodson, and colors by Jordie Bellaire. Need another reason why? Well read on for a mostly spoiler-free review.

The book picks up immediately after the Battle of Yavin with the medal ceremony and Leia giving a very brief speech commemorating the losses of all those who gave their lives fighting the Empire and especially Alderaan. There is no time for sorrows though as the Rebels must immediately dismantle the base and flee. Leia, however, wants to embark on a mission of her own: to find and protect all the remaining Alderaanians in the galaxy… with or without the Alliance’s approval.

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Dear Star Wars Books: Thank You For the Women

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a blog post for EUCantina in which I analyzed the roles of women in the Expanded Universe, specifically in the post-Return of the Jedi era. The article was inspired by the cancellation of “Mandorla”, the Alex Irvine novel about Nomi Sunrider, from the Tales of the Jedi comics. I’d been wanting a book about Nomi for awhile, and was really disappointed to see it cancelled. And the disappointment stung on more than just a level of “I was really looking forward to that book.”

And then my brain began to turn. As far as I can recall, “Mandorla” was the only novel in recent memory to be focused on a female protagonist. We’ve had “Han” novels, “Bane” novels, “Revan” novels; where are the “Jaina” and “Padme” and “Leia” novels? Why cancel a novel that had a chance to expand on a strong female lead?

The article was generally well received, with a few exceptions, mostly from people claiming that the EU was already filled with lots of female characters. While that may have been true, the point of the article remained:

“But Star Wars has many female leads,” you might say. To which I reply: “but none are allowed to lead.”

The original article has since been lost to the internet ether, but I had my own draft copy elsewhere. With San Diego Comic Con happening and in anticipation of the Star Wars Books panel, I recently skimmed the article with the intention of reposting it here on Tosche Station for posterity’s sake. But as I kept reading, I realized something: in less than 18 months, Del Rey and LucasBooks has addressed nearly all of my major complaints in the article. And I knew I’d be remiss if I didn’t revisit the article and say THANK YOU.

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Cosplay Monday: Princess Leia

Welcome back to another edition of Cosplay Monday where we strive to brighten the start of your work week with some excellent costuming.  This week, we’re turning the spotlight back to Kate/Lady Lomax Cosplay.  You might recall her wonderful Endor Leia from several months ago.  Well not only has she made improvements to the costume AND now have a life sized speeder but she’s also done an A New Hope Leia costume.  They both look fantastic but seriously, how cool is that speeder?  You can check out more pictures of all of her Leia costume as her Facebook page linked above.

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