Empire #5 Princess... Warrior Part 1 (of 2)
Story: Randy Stradley (with situations and dialogue from the Star Wars Radio Dramatization by Brian Daley)
Pencils: Davidé Fabbri
Inking: Christian Dalla Vecchia
Coloring: Digital Chameleon
Lettering: Digital Chameleon
Cover: Brian Ching, Batt
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (01/06/2007)
Princess Leia Organa is on a mission aboard Tantive IV to bring some medical supplies and equipment to the rebellion on the planet Ralltiir. Unfortunately, she arrives after the Empire, led by Lord Tion and Lord Vader, declared martial law on the planet and killed the High Council. Leia uses Lord Tion's attraction to her to get permission to leave the planet, and she goes to meet Lady Mia Ikova on Hattada to ask for her help to send the supplies back to Ralltiir. But no soomer has Lady Ikova agreed to help that an Imperial shuttle lands to arrest Princess Leia. Unfortunately, Lady Ikova gets shot during an altercation, prompting Leia to take action.
The first 11 pages do a good job of condensing the first 12 minutes of the 1981 Star Wars Radio Drama's second episode "Points of Origin", or rather the radio play it was based on by Brian Daley (published by Del Rey in 1994) as it doesn't reflect the subtle changes in dialogue made in the recording. Some dialogue is cut and replaced by new scenes from the Rebel diversions mentioned in the drama. Mostly, the wounded Rebel who reaches Leia is given a name, Basso, and we see his friends led by Jiir shooting stormtroopers so he can get there. We also see how Basso got wounded, and we see that all his friends are killed as a result of their "foolish Rebel gesture".
Now I said it does a good job, but there are a few kinks in this partial adaptation: one line by Basso ("this puts you in too great a danger") is given to a Rebel trooper instead, which makes it a bit confusing when Leia tells him "No greater than yours". Also, there is one clumsy cut that just looks weird, one panel Leia is talking to Vader, then a few panels with Lord Tion, then back to Leia saying "That's it! The surveillance system!" Where did Vader go all of a sudden? It atucally does help to listen to the drama before or even during reading that part of the comic.
Whereas the balance of the radio drama episode cuts to Leia on Alderaan with her father, and then getting a visit from Lord Tion, the story here continues right after the Tantive IV lifts off Ralltiir with Basso on board (where he goes in a bacta tank and is left out of the rest of the issue). She decides to go to Haleoda spaceport on Kattada to ask the leader, Lady Mia Ikova, for help. Now I have nothing against adding a new story "in-between" scenes of the radio drama, as long as it makes sense, adds to the story and resolves some issues that were left hanging. And it does all three. Leia got off Ralltiir, but she still wants to complete her mission to send the medical supplies to the Rebels there, but her presence on Kattada brings the Imperials and a whole new set of problems. It does give depth to Leia, giving her even more resolve (believe it or not) to fight the Empire. It shows her friendly princess side when she makes friends with Ikova, and it shows her unwilling warrior side when she decides to stand up against Imperial cruelty. The title is perfect. So how is she going to get out of this mess?
So basically, I love this story for two reasons: one, because it adapts partially my favorite episode of the radio drama (plus it officially places it at 3 weeks before the movie); and two, because it adds new information and fills in a gap. Imagine if someone wrote a new Obi-Wan sequence between two scenes of one of A New Hope; well this is exactly it because I consider the radio dramas as canon and official as the movies themselves.
Fabbri previously did the art for the ongoing Star Wars series #28-31 and 36-41, as well as the Jedi Council: Acts of War miniseries which is one of my favorites (which also was written by Randy Stradley). He does have a distinct style which is endearing. It's somewhere between realistic and cartoony, much like Lucas Marangon's style. I love how he frames the action, and all the angles he uses. Plus it's nice to finally have images to follow while listening to the radio drama and finally put a face to Lord Tion. What I like most is the subtle details he puts on the page, which add so much to the actual storytelling. Examples of this are on page 3 where Lord Tionputs his hand in Leia's hair while they're talking, then she pushes it away; on page 12 where Leia never seemed so sad; and on page 14 where we see a speeder in the background following Mia's hovercarriage, which explains how Antilles got to the palace at the same same time as Leia. Im leaving so much, but let's just say that a second glance after reading it reveals a lot more details that might have been missed. And how can I forget the scenery! Fabbri does create some beautiful backgrounds, greatly enhanced with colors by Winnipeg's Digital Chameleon. The very first shot of a blasted Ralltiir spaceport, and the Haleoda city on Kattada are simply amazing.
Very good comic so far. And even better if you are familiar with episode 2 of the Star Wars Radio Drama.
Rating: 8.5 / 10 Highly Recommended