Princess Leia Comic series — a review

Look out, galaxy, here I come!

Look out, galaxy, here I come!

Marvel Comics (a division of Disney) has produced a new comic from the Star Wars universe (which is also a division of Disney; never mind the galactic Empire, bow down before Mickey, the one true Emperor!) that features Princess Leia in her very own adventure.

And it’s about freaking time, really. I’m getting a little tired of these SF and fantasy franchises that have too many guys and too few women in the main cast. The Hobbit book fans were bitching and moaning about Evangeline Lilly’s elf character having been added to the film series, but I was really grateful to see her there, since the original story had no women characters at all.

Princess Leia’s brassiness isn’t toned down in this comic book series, which spans out over five books. Taking place right after the events of the first Star Wars film (aka A New Hope in George Lucas’ revisionist history), where the rebels are busy getting ready to bug out of the moon of Yavin shortly after the destruction of the first Death Star, Leia tries to see what she could do to help, but is only told by the higher ups of the Rebel Alliance to just chill out and take it easy.

The destruction of Leia’s home planet of Alderaan still weighs heavily on everybody’s mind–including Leia, who’s eager to do something, anything, to avoid grieving. Leia realizes there are other citizens of the doomed planet still scattered amongst the stars and when the Empire announces that it will start hunting them down, Leia decides to go out and rescue Alderaan’s Orphans on her own before the Imperials find them.

Thelma and Louise, eat yer heart out!

Thelma and Louise, eat yer heart out!

Leia joins forces with Evaan, a female rebel fighter pilot who is also from Alderaan and an avowed royalist who thinks that Leia’s new fangled ideas about treating everybody equally is just weird. I’ve read the first two issues so far, and while the first book basically sets up the story, the second gets the story rolling by taking this duo to the planet Naboo, where Leia and Evaan have a run in with some bad guys. R2-D2 is even along for the ride, which only added to the strong Star Wars vibe that resonates within this story.

It’s clear that the Disney Overlords have released this comic series in an effort to help ignite interest in the Star Wars brand just in time for their newest Star Wars film, directed by JJ Abrams, which is coming out later this year. But this is really an enjoyable comic series that focuses on a Star Wars character who could use more of the spotlight to herself. It’s also a great ‘grrl-power’ book for those of you with young daughters who’re looking for heroic and fun fantasy stories with strong women in the lead. Highly recommended, overall. –SF

Star Wars: Rebels — a review of the first episode

A little to the right, Charlie...No, your other right, Charlie! You're gonna hit the pole, Charlie!!!

A little to the right, Charlie…No, your other right, Charlie! You’re gonna hit the pole, Charlie!!!

Having been a HUGE fan of Star Wars: Clone Wars (and sorry to see that series go) I was really looking forward to watching the first episode of Star Wars: Rebels. Taking place after the Star Wars prequel films and before the original three Star Wars films, Star Wars Rebels made its debut on Disney XD over the past weekend with Spark Of Rebellion, the first episode written by co-creator Simon Kinberg, who also co-wrote and produced the most recent two X-Men films. Spark of Rebellion is a fast-paced, enjoyable ride that introduces us to the Star Wars universe through the eyes of Ezra Bridger (voiced by Taylor Gray), a young con artist living on the Outer Rim world of Lothal.

I'm Captain Stubing. Welcome to the Love Boat!

I’m Captain Stubing. Welcome to the Love Boat!

While trying to steal crates of contraband, Ezra stumbles across a crew of brigands aboard the Ghost, a Millennium Falcon-like starship that’s just as cool in its own way. The Ghost is owned and flown by Hera Syndulla (Vanessa Marshall) a Twi’lek (no, she’s not a fan of Twilight; she one of the SW aliens with two big tentacles on their heads). Along for the ride is the enigmatic Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze Jr.), who turns out to be a Jedi knight who survived the Order 66 massacre; Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios (Stephen Blum), a hulking alien, would best be described as the “muscle” of the crew; and my personal favorite of the new bunch: Sabine Wren (Tiya Sircar) a female explosives expert who wears a far more stylish version of the Boba Fett armor.

Take back what you said about Firefly! Take it back now....

Take back what you said about Firefly! Take it back now….

But what really sets this version apart from Clone Wars is two things: the production design is based upon the original concept artwork created by the late Ralph Macquarie (the Zeb character is taken from his original drawings of the Wookies; Kinberg even creates a great in-joke with this in the episode), and we’re finally no longer in prequel territory, thanks to Rebels taking place just before the original trilogy. The Empire’s Star Destroyers are on full view here (though they look a little small; maybe they’re an earlier version?) The Stormtroopers are back, and the glorious Tie fighters, along with their screeching engines, once more stalk the skies and space ways of the galaxy.

Yes, the Stormtroopers are back...and they still can't hit the broad side of a Bantha.

Yes, the Stormtroopers are back…and they still can’t hit the broad side of a Bantha.

The writing is very smart, with plenty of surprises and excitement along the way–all set to the accompaniment of John Williams’ classic SW score. This series, much more so than Clone Wars, amply recreates the classic Star Wars feel, and not just by using snippets of Williams’ score. The writing seems to suggest that a larger, epic story is in motion, as this ragtag band is slowly congealing into the nascent Rebellion. The group aboard the Ghost is also beginning to come together like a family–they remind me of the crew of the Firefly in a good way, and I was pleased to hear this series already has a second season coming down the pike. Looking forward to seeing more. –SF