So when Dark Horse first announced that Brian Wood would be starting a new ongoing series, simply titled Star Wars, back at Comic Con last July, and mentioned that Leia would be piloting an X-wing fighter, the two big fusses that popped up were about fitting continuity (isn’t it always?) and Leia in a role we hadn’t seen her in very often: fighter pilot. (Never mind that she’s been piloting starfighters since Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.)
Now that the first issue of the series is out for us all to enjoy, what’s all the hubbub?
For those who want to see Leia as a fighter pilot, we got that. And for those who want to see Leia with a gun, we got that too. And for those who want to see Leia be a leader, we got that as well – she’s carrying the weight of being the leader of Alderaan’s survivors as well as being a key leader of the Rebel Alliance, put in charge of a secretive mission by Mon Mothma. While we don’t necessarily get to see Leia as a senator and politician (it seems highly unlikely we’ll see her in her former role since she’s considered an enemy of the state, and part of a body that has been recently dissolved), I’m sure we’ll be seeing her bust out all Madeleine Albright soon enough on her mission, since many worlds sympathetic to the Alliance are pretty scared by what happened to Alderaan and might not want to take the Rebels in under their roof.
For all the fans who complained that Leia can’t be a pilot simply because she’s a girl, or because that’s what Luke and Han and Wedge and Chewbacca and Lando are good at, and having her be good at it too is just too much to handle, grow up. As pointed out by Brian Wood in interviews, it’s almost insulting to suggest that she can’t fly the mainstay ship of the rebellion. In the films, we see her fixing and piloting the Falcon, driving speeder bikes (with her brother as a backseat driver,) and her mom, another member of royalty in a time of war, was also able to fly her own ship. Wood does mention that her skill is on par to Wedge and Luke – is the issue that Wedge and Luke have been put too high on a pedestal for their piloting skills for anyone except Corran Horn or Jaina Solo to match? At this point, Luke, for all his atmospheric flight at home in his skyhopper, hasn’t logged that many missions in space, and Wedge’s main skill is simply being lucky enough to not have his fighter explode when shot by Darth Vader at Yavin. So maybe slide Leia’s piloting skills up a few notches where where you have it on her character sheet, drop Luke and Wedge each a point or not, and move on and enjoy the series.
As for continuity, yes, there’s a lot of material that takes place right after ANH, from Marvel comics to the X-wing video game, to the Empire comic series, and more, but ultimately, guess what – it can fit in. As I’ve gotten older, my desire to need to shoehorn every single story into one cohesive span of days has faded into more of Tia Dalma’s “same story, different versions. And all are true” sensibility. Let go and trust your feelings. If you want to view it as a reboot, since all you need to know is what’s in A New Hope, fine (and even then there’s enough of a refresher in the first issue to let you know where everyone is at in their lives). If you want to view it as part of the larger EU that it will tie into, that works too.
My main fuss with Star Wars #1: Where’s Artoo?! We got the big three, we got Vader, Chewbacca, Threepio, Wedge, Mon Mothma, Leia’s astromech, and Ben’s disembodied voice… but to quote his counterpart, “R2-D2, where are you?”
For more on my take on Star Wars #1, check out my summary and tag team review with Bryan Young at Big Shiny Robot!