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A graphic novel by Welles Hartley, Judd Winick, and Randy Stradley (2005, Dark Horse Comics)
Empire comics #5-6, 20-22 and Valentine
Set immediately after Star Wars: A New Hope

Princess Leia leads the Rebellion on mercy missions, a search for a new base, while developing a relationship with Han Solo and Luke Skywalker.




Read on November 30th, 2005  
    Quite enjoyable, especially in the first story.

These four stories are all about Princess Leia, and they do her justice. The advantage of a comic about this particular character is that the artists are drawing the very beautiful Carrie Fisher. Even when she is drawn awkward, Princess Leia is wonderful to look at. These stories put Leia in situations that we've never really seen her in before. This is when her time in the Rebellion was beginning to turn her from a politician to a warrior, as the Empire began to suspect her of treason and the Rebel Alliance actually began to form a cohesive network.

The first story is actually called Princess ... Warrior. It involves Leia's trip to Raltiir, hoping to deliver some supplies to the rebels there. Darth Vader tries to trap her on the planet, which means that this is probably her last diplomatic mission before she goes off to Tatooine to try and find Obi-Wan in A New Hope. I suspect that the implanted message that one of the warriors was carrying was information about the existence of the Death Star, though it is left vague enough that it could have been anything. In an attempt to keep Vader from discovering the military supplies her ship is carrying, she uses her feminine charms to allow her clearance off the planet. Vader, however, sends a patrol to her next destination, leading to a shootout that kills the regional leader, another woman who wears very revealing clothing. It is here that Leia must decide whether or not she wants to fight for her ideals. She orders the Imperial ship destroyed, and leads her people into battle, but has trouble allowing the soldiers to do their duty without her by their side. It is a difficult moment for Leia, but it is also a turning point in her mindset.

The first half of the story, on Raltiir, is more about individuals, and as such, the artwork is very simple, allowing the story to be the focus. Once we arrive on Kattada, everything gets a lot more detail, with grand vistas, and lots of trench pre-warfare. I liked this stuff quite a bit.

The next story, A Little Piece of Home, takes place after A New Hope. Alderaan has been destroyed, but it seems that the grieving has passed. Or perhaps it is still on hold, because Leia is in search of a new base. The story is much simpler, as is the artwork. Most of the action is given by shadows, rather than details, making the characters appear darker. Leia visits an old boyfriend in the Ryloth system, whose family owns a moon there. It is curious that she states that the area is infrequently traveled, because Ryloth itself has a lot of visitors. At least a lot of green and blue females with long lekku find their way offworld, anyway. Regardless, Raal is happy to see her, and wants to offer her everything she asks for, while his older brother sees her and the Rebellion as trouble. His point of view is valid, but does nothing to restore democracy. I like the way the authors point out that Alderaan might not have been destroyed if Leia hadn't been captured; however Leia points out, rightly, that the Empire always intended to do this -I'm sure Alderaan was always a real pain in the Emperor's side.

Raal takes Leia to their game preserve to show off the flora and fauna, some of which only exists on that moon now that Alderaan is gone. Unfortunately, one of the very big creatures destroys their speeder, and another ape-like creature chases them, while Raal is poisoned by yet another. Raal's brother finds them, but Raal is already dead by then. Needless to say, he is very unhappy, and Leia is not going to get a new Rebel base there...

Leia's third mission in this book, Alone Together, dresses her up in a very sexy red outfit, which makes both Han and Luke take notice. Leia's mission is delayed by the presence of an Imperial craft in the vicinity, which makes Han take the Millennium Falcon into hyperspace suddenly. The story is told from the point of view of a supplies' personnel, Deena Shan, who is hilariously smitten with Han throughout the whole thing. This was probably my favorite of the stories, only because of the banter that goes on between Han and the others. Here is the true Han Solo, and the artists get all of his facial expressions right-on.

After re-entering normal space, Han encounters a distress call, on an uncharted planet, where the pilot and his crew had been slowly picked away at by a giant vine-like creature. Han and Chewie get trapped by it, too, and Leia and Deena end up rescuing them, in part.

The story was very simple, and didn't require any real plotting, but the dialog was great, and the artwork was very realistic, in both close-ups and distance views.

Breaking the Ice takes place as the Hoth base is being set up. Han and Chewbacca are sent to deliver some strike fighters, and Leia demands to go along. She and Han crash and have to spend some time together on the ship before Chewie comes to rescue them. Han's loyalty to Chewbacca is amazing, as he leaves his crashed ship in an attempt to find his friend, whom he thinks has also crashed. He doesn't get far before succumbing to the cold, and Leia rescues him. Although they cuddle up for warmth for a short while, it is anything but the romantic Valentine that the publishers would have us believe by the cover. These two are constantly at each others' throats, but Leia is still drawn to the man. By the time Chewie and a rescue team arrive, she is ready to kiss Han.

The artwork in this story is barely worth mentioning. Aside from showing the characters as people, it doesn't have much more to do. However, there are a few frames where Leia looks absolutely stunning. These are where her hair is all tussled, and let long like during her time on Endor in Return of the Jedi.

In four stories, two were really good, and two were merely 'good' to read. I like the long stories because they offer more depth, at least in one that catches my attention. Still, the stories were above average, and I hope the good variety keeps coming in this series.


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