Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny – Princess Leia

Elsa Charretier (Writer and Artist). Pierrick Colinet (Writer), Sarah Stern (Colourer), Tom B. Long (Letterer)
IDW
January 3, 2018

Since 2015, we have had the pleasure of receiving a new Star Wars film every year. This is exciting for established fans who now not only have nine films to watch with more to come, but are also getting another expanded universe through comic books to enjoy.

Forces of Destiny Leia Cover RI-B

Stunning cover art by Annie Wu

One of these highly-anticipated entries in the Star Wars EU is the debut of the Forces of Destiny series. Part of IDW’s monthly Star Wars Adventures umbrella, Forces of Destiny will release a new story every week. Each issue centres around one or two beloved female characters from the galaxy far, far away. The first week fittingly featured the first female hero of the franchise – Princess Leia Organa.

The story opens in the unforgiving icy landscape of Hoth. Leia, out on a mission with fellow Rebel Alliance fighters Han Solo and Hera Syndulla, struggles to control her obstinate tauntaun. A skilled rider of most other animals, Leia just can’t get the tauntaun to listen to her but somehow, she must prevail. The fate of the Rebel base relies on Leia and her team completing their mission; she can’t let one stubborn tauntaun get in her way.

Through flashbacks, we learn more about the status of the Rebel base on Hoth and how it landed in the dire straights that directly led to Leia’s present troubles. We also learn that under Leia’s cool and calm exterior is a leader fraught with anxiety about the future of the rebellion and the people under her command. No wonder the tauntaun’s obstinacy is driving her up the wall.

This first issue of Forces of Destiny is charming and surprisingly inspirational at times. Set just before the events of The Empire Strikes Back, the Leia we see here is far from the one we recently saw in the latest episode, The Last Jedi. The Rebellion is still young and the galaxy has suffered greatly under the thrall of the evil Empire.

Though Leia is portrayed as determined and a fearless leader, she is a bit too quirky here to be an accurate reimagining of the beloved character. One also can’t help but wonder why her arc in this issue is so closely tied to her inability to ride the tauntaun. It seems a bit disingenuous to turn her into a damsel-in-distress, especially considering that December 2017 marked the first anniversary of Carrie Fisher’s death.

Forces of Destiny Leia comic panels

A woman in charge!

In contrast, the panels where Leia speaks inspirational words of wisdom to the beleaguered Alliance members are more in character. The rebels turn to her for guidance and follow her without question. It is great, and rare, to see a woman in a leadership position not being questioned constantly.

With regards to the art, the word ‘whimsical’ comes to mind. It is faithful to the Forces of Destiny animated shorts rather than the live-action films. Has it translated to the page as well as it did to the screen? Not exactly. None of the characters really look like themselves; the reader needs to rely on other visual clues to identify them. But, they are certainly cute to look at! A younger audience might find the art more appealing than adult readers but, as this series is aimed at readers of all ages, I think it does the job.

There are five variant covers for each issue of this series. The artists bring their own unique styles to their covers. The Leia issue also includes a super-rare cover variant by Annie Wu, one that is closer to the live-action film version of Leia. The Hall of Comics cover by Chrissie Zullo is too doll-like for my taste. The lovely Con Exclusive Cover features an imposing three-quarter image of Leia holding a communicator. I love the detail in the animation art cover which has R2-D2 by Leia’s side. But, my personal favourite is the primary cover which depicts Leia on her tauntaun – simple, yet elegant, and gives you an idea of what to expect from the book.

If you are looking for nostalgia, this issue is perfect. The Empire Strikes Back is universally acknowledged as the best Star Wars film. Choosing to base the Leia issue of Forces of Destiny around the same time as this film was a great idea. Plus, it gives us some more of the classic banter between Leia and Han; who doesn’t love that?

This first issue of Forces of Destiny is enjoyable and cute, though not as faithful to the Star Wars characters as it sets out to be. I still love the idea of this series and that the first few issues focus entirely on Star Wars’ female characters. Up next is Rey, followed by Hera, then Ahsoka and Padme and, finally Rose and Paige, which will explore characters from the latest film. Hopefully, the more we see of the series, the more faithful it will be to the characters we so love.