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The Empire Strikes Back: From a Certain Point of View

I love Star Wars! I love short stories! Together this second collection was a win-win for me, as I also loved the previous book Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View.

Forty authors celebrated forty years since The Empire Strikes Back was released by contributing a story of background or supporting characters from the ending of A New Hope to the ending of  TESB movie. What I especially like about short stories is you can read an entire story in bite-sized portions, perfect for when you are a full-time working mom like myself who has limited reading time but loves to read!  There are a few spoilers, but I did my best not to give it all away!

Eyes of the Empire by Kiersten White 4/5

An Empire soldier who is tasked with watching video feed from traveling droids around the universe clues in that the Rebels are on Hoth and alerts the command. When she realizes her intel led to much death and destruction, she lets some data from Dagobah go unreported…

Hunger by Mark Oshiro 4/5

The Wampa on Hoth that attacked Luke gets some poignant backstory. He just wanted to feed his family!

Ion Control by Emily Skrutskie 3.5/5

A Rebel soldier on Hoth helps transport her fellow soldiers off planet when the Empire finds their base.  Persevering while the base falls apart, she is determined to get as many to safety as she can.

A Good Kiss by C.B. Lee 4/5

Not every soldier gets to shine, behind-the-scenes drudge work is a necessity to keep troops fed and safe. But one soldier finally does get his turn to be a hero when his knowledge of the back tunnels proves invaluable. Plus, his crush returns his affections as they escape to safety.

She Will Keep Them Warm by Deliah S. Dawson 3.5/5

A mother Tauntaun who is used by the Rebels as transport has her own feelings about how her family herd is being utilized, but you know she will make the ultimate sacrifice to keep a certain someone warm.

Heroes of the Rebellion by Amy Ratcliffe 3/5

A reporter stationed on Hoth hopes to get exciting stories from Luke, Leia and Han as they are recognized heroes but realizes there are so many more heroic stories out there from everyday soldiers and civilians.

Rogue Two by Gary Whitta 3/5

A pilot who hates the cold worries that Han and Luke won’t make it back alive when they are caught outside at night and is the one who radios back that he found them the next morning.

Kendal by Charles Yu 4/5

Admiral Kendal Ozzel ruminates on the path that got him to the point where he is being Force-choked by Lord Vader. As he dies he realizes he made horrible choices that led to him joining the Empire vs the Rebels that his former-fiancé wanted to join. But before all that, he was just a child who loved his mother’s cooking.

Against All Odds by R.F. Kuang 4/5

Dak is a gunner for Luke, and views it as the highest honor, as both men work well together. But even the most experienced and competent soldiers can run into bad luck.

Beyond Hope by Michale Moreci 4/5

A soldier whose home planet was taken over by the Empire is looking for revenge and joins the Rebels. But this story is the opposite of the one before, as this soldier survives, less due to talent, but because of luck.

The Truest Duty by Christie Golden 4/5

General Veers of the Empire reveals he fed Admiral Ozzel some incorrect data which resulted in him making a bad move which brought down the wrath of Vader upon him. Now Veers has been promoted and will not let Vader down.

A Naturalist on Hoth by Hank Green 5/5

A dedicated scientist studying the flora and fauna of Hoth makes a radical decision when the base is attacked. This was a weird little tale, but I loved it.

The Dragonsnake Saves R2 by Katie Cook 3/5

A one-page cutesy cartoon about how the swimming alien on the planet Dagobah saved R2 from the swamp that he and Luke crash-landed on.

For The Last Time by Beth Revis 3/5

Admiral Piett of the Empire also stays true to Vader after witnessing Ozzel’s death.

Rendezvous Point by Jason Fry 5/5

This longer story highlights Wedge Antilles, a respected pilot from A New Hope who flew with Luke against the first Death Star. A new squadron needs to be assembled and he helps pull together new pilots. Many are rookies and he puts them through simulators but they need to fly out on a mission soon, and he needs to make hard decisions as he knows some won’t survive. This was an important story that shows the nitty-gritty of war.

The Final Order by Seth Dickinson 4/5

Captain Tian and Commander Canonhaus serve together on the Imperial ship Ultimatum and have a fraught conversation, as neither trusts the motives of the other. How depressing, one can never ever let their guard down as betrayals are common among them.

Amara Kel’s Rules for TIE Pilot Survival (Probably) by Django Wexler 5/5

We are introduced to a likable TIE pilot who has rules for herself so she stays alive. But she breaks them when she starts to fall for another pilot.  New recruits = “cloudflies” was dark humor at its best.

The First Lesson by Jim Zub 4/5

Yoda’s thoughts when he meets impetuous Luke for the first time.

Disturbance by Mike Chen 3.5/5

Emperor Palpatine feels a great disturbance in the Force and sees a possible future play out in his mind before he summons Vader to his chambers.

This Is No Cave by Catherynne M. Valente 2/5

This is another creature POV story, this time it’s about the animal found in the asteroid belt that the Millennium Falcon needed to escape from. While I found The Baptist by Nnedi Okorafor in the previous book and Hunger by Mark Oshiro in this book solid, this was a miss for me.

Lord Vader Will See You Now by John Jackson Miller 4/5

When a story deeply centers on a minor character, it’s a clue that this person is found in non-canon Star Wars books and graphic novels. Such was the case with Rae Sloane who needs to explain her actions first to Admiral Piett then to Vader. Her instincts prove to be correct.

Vergence by Tracy Deonn 2/5

The cave that Luke was tested in on Dagobah now has a POV too. Whatever.

Tooth and Claw by Michael Kogge 3/5

The reptilian bounty-hunter Bossk has it out for Chewbacca. I’ve always thought Chewbacca should have been more developed, but this story was just about how emo Bossk is.

STETI by Daniel Jose Older 2.5/5

A story trying too hard to be clever- this is written as if it were an edited article for the Galactic Digest from a journalist who is much too close to his news source during a bloody feud in a diner.

Wait for It by Zoraida Cordova 4/5

Boba Fett is summoned by Vader along with some other bounty hunters to capture Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon. He now lays in wait for his mark.

Standard Imperial Procedure by Sarwat Chadda 4.5/5

Ashon is an Imperial janitor, who was a former engineer who had a dramatic fall from grace. When he spots something that Boba Fett wants, his fate is sealed. This was a great story, but that ending…

There is Always Another by Mackenzi Lee 5/5

Obi-Wan Kenobi even in death regrets many of his past choices with Anakin. His thoughts on Yoda’s martyrdom and choice to reside of Dagobah made me laugh. When he tries to help Yoda talk Luke out of leaving his Jedi training, he compares Luke to his father and it pains him. This really humanized Obi-Wan and I loved it.

Fake It Till You Make It by Cavon Scott 3/5

Jaxxon, a rabbit-type smuggler tries to talk Lando into a shady deal on Cloud City, but Lando has other things on his mind. This scoundrel has a redeeming moment at the end, and turns out he is a character from older Star Wars graphic novels.

But What Does He Eat? by S.A. Chakraborty 3.5/5

Lando is trying to impress Vader and calls in his acclaimed head chef to cook a meal for him and the other Imperial guards. The chef does her best, but does Vader actually eat?

Beyond the Clouds by Lilliam Rivera 3/5

Isabalia is a lackluster newbie bounty hunter based out of Cloud City, but pivots when given a chance to join a new rebel movement.

No Time for Poetry by Austin Walker 3/5

Droid assassin IG-88 and bounty hunter Dengar form an unlikely partnership when hunting for Han Solo.

Bespin Escape by Martha Wells 3.5/5

A clan of alien Ugnaughts scramble to find a ship to get safety off Cloud City when the Imperial forces arrive.

Faith in an Old Friend by Brittany N. Williams 4/5

Piloting droid LS-37, last seen in the movie Solo, is now part of the Millennium Falcon’s circuitry. She still has a crush on Lando and helps get them to safety. It was nice to have a story about this droid that we got to know in a movie, and who I felt had an ignoble end there.

Due on Batuu by Rob Hart 3/5

Two Cloud City residents see an opportunity to escape with a package that could give them some coin if put in the right hands.

Into the Clouds by Karen Strong 3.5/5

A poor little rich girl and handsome pilot escape from Cloud City together- perhaps into a happily ever after.  This was a bit of a romance story that was just loosely tied to Star Wars, but I found it more appealing than I thought I would.

The Witness by Adam Christopher 4/5

Another story that gives an Imperial soldier some humanity. Deena, Stormtrooper TK-27342, has had enough and decides to desert at the siege on Cloud City. By accident she witnesses some of the battle between Vader and Luke. I was rooting for her.

The Man Who Built Cloud City by Alexander Freed 2/5

A delusional man who believes he is king of Cloud City is helped to safety by a security guard. So the guard put his own loved ones in danger to rescue this man??

The Backup Backup Plan by Anne Toole 3/5

This longer story was about the residents left behind on Cloud City who didn’t escape and how they skirt around the new Imperial law. Sure this took place in the Star Wars universe, but it didn’t relate to the movie.

Right-Hand Man by Lydia Kang 4.5/5

A medical droid completes the surgery on Luke to give him a new right cybernetic hand and has some surprisingly poignant and wise words for Luke. Clever title.

The Whills Strike Back by Tom Angleberger 5/5

Another amusing entry about how the Whills scholars decide on what to include in the word scroll in the introduction of each movie.  Loved the sly reference to Life Day! The author Angleberger did the same for the first book, and I hope he closes out the next book too.

This collection was strong and evolved from the first anthology, with less clunkers. It fleshed out some characters believably and added some diversity with some LGBTQ+ romances. My only criticisms there are too many creature POVs and Luke was shown inconsistently from story to story. Sometimes he was a wise God-like hero other times a petulant hothead. But all in all, a fun read for all Star Wars fans and I look forward to the next 40-year anniversary book for Return of the Jedi.

-Nancy

Fiction’s Fearless Females: Nomi Sunrider

March is Women’s History Month, and both of us here at Graphic Novelty² have joined forces for the third year with some other amazing bloggers to celebrate women under the auspicious blogging series title of: Fiction’s Fearless Females! During this month, we will have six bloggers sharing who they believe is a fictional woman to be admired, and we will share each entry of the series on our blog. Today’s post in our last one of this series, and comes from Star Wars expert, Jeff of The Imperial Talker‘s 2021 #FFF post, re-posted here with permission.

Seeking a refuge for healing and peaceful contemplation, Jedi Knight Nomi Sunrider returns to the planet Ambria and the dwelling of Master Thon, her former Jedi Master. Traveling with Sunrider is her beloved 4-year-old daughter Vima and fellow Jedi Knight Sylvar who, like Nomi, seeks the peace and wisdom which Master Thon can offer. The joyful reunion with Master Thon is brief, however, disrupted by the sudden ambush of reptilian creatures swelling with the Dark Side of the Force and controlled by Sith assassins. Commanded to destroy Master Thon and his company, the Sith-controlled creatures surround the Jedi and launch their assault.

Found in the fourth issue of Tales of the Jedi: The Sith War, a Dark Horse Comics series published in the 1990s which details stories of the Jedi living thousands of years prior to A New Hope, the vicious attack by these dark side creatures was emblazoned in my mind as a ten-year-old Star Wars fan, the deadly battle masterfully captured in a single image. The muscular reptiles tower above the Jedi , mouths baring sharp teeth and yellow eyes manifesting the evil driving them. In the background, Oss Willum – a Jedi being mind-controlled by a nefarious Sith spirit – commands the attack from high ground while his accomplice Crado, an acolyte of Sith Lord Exar Kun, stands closer to the fray. At the edge of the battle the Jedi Sylvar slashes at a creature with her yellow lightsaber while closer to the center Master Thon grabs one of the reptiles by the neck, pushing it away with his own muscular arm.

It is Nomi Sunrider who truly stands out, though; she is the reason this image is so unforgettable. Resolve and grit etched on her face as she braces for an attack, Sunrider holds her right arm in front of her, lightsaber in a guard position, the blue blade extending across her body horizontally. In her left arm Nomi clutches her daughter Vima, the child clinging to her mother in fear of the reptilian attackers.

Today, the power on display in this image, what it conveys about Nomi Sunrider, is apparent to me in a way I could not fully appreciate as a young Star Wars fan. Back then, I was enamored by the battle itself, the action being my focus above and beyond any subtle metaphors a picture meant to convey. Yet, this image of Sunrider stuck with me, it captured my imagination in a way other moments in Star Wars comic books did not. Why that is I cannot say. The simple fact is that the image never left my memory, and as a result, I have always had a fondness for Nomi Sunrider. For that I am incredibly grateful because when my interest in Star Wars shifted away from the “Wars” as I got older, when I began to experience the deeper layers of characters and events, my understanding and appreciation for Nomi Sunrider fundamentally shifted.

Sunrider’s story in Tales of the Jedi is rich and complex, with moments of incredible joy and devastating heartache. Through it all one thing remains a constant: her love for Vima. As a young Star Wars fan I could not fully appreciate the power in this image, or Sunrider’s story more fully, because at that time I could only see Nomi Sunrider as a Jedi Knight. I was obsessed with the Jedi, trapped in the belief, like Luke Skywalker, that the Jedi were great because they were warriors. In a sense, the glow of Sunrider’s lightsaber in the image blinded me to the deeper and far more important meaning being conveyed. I could not see back then as I do now that that the brave determination embedded on Nomi Sunrider’s face and reflected in her defensive stance is not that of a Jedi alone. No, it is more significantly that of a mother protecting her frightened young child.

Nomi Sunrider is the very best of the Jedi Order in Tales of the Jedi, a living symbol of Light Side of the Force which the Order serves. But her devotion to the Light Side cannot and must never be disconnected from her devotion to her daughter. Nomi Sunrider’s fearless love for the Light Side of the Force is fundamentally grounded in her motherhood, in the unconditional love she has for Vima. And that is exactly what is reflected in this singular image.


Fiction’s Fearless Females is in it’s third year!  Yay!  The series runs for the month of March and along with myself feature posts by Nancy and Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2, Kalie of Just Dread-full, Mike of My Comic Relief, and Green Onion of Green Onion Revival Project.  Be sure to follow each of these blogs and to check out all of the Fearless Females in the series. Just follow these links:

Kara Zor-El (Supergirl)

Martha Jones

Lieutenant Nyota Uhura

Lisa Simpson

Norma Bates

The Mandalorian: Season Two

After the disappointment of the last three Star Wars films, season one of The Mandalorian had rejuvenated my love for the franchise. The Child became a fan favorite for practically everyone, so I eagerly anticipated the return of this season, which is an adaptation of Lone Wolf and Cub. Warning- some spoilers. 

The Marshall

The Mandalorian (aka Mando) wishes to return The Child to his own people, and when he hears of a Mandalorian in the Tatooine town of Mos Pelgo, he goes to investigate. But when he arrives he discovers the town’s marshall, Cobb Vanth, is simply wearing Boba Fett’s armor that he bought years ago. Mando and Cobb strike a deal, that Mando can get the armor if he helps defeat a krayt dragon that is terrorizing the town. This opening episode had a simple monster of the week storyline, but Timothy Olyphant as Cobb was easy on the eyes. 

The Passenger

Mando takes on a passenger, the Frog Lady and her eggs, who needs to travel to her husband who can fertilize her eggs, in exchange for intel on other Mandalorians. The Child views the eggs as tasty treats and was slyly swiping at them all episode. While escaping capture, they crash land on an icy planet and barely escape from ice spiders before being rescued by some pilots from the New Republic. 

The Heiress

Mando, the Frog Lady and The Child finally arrive on the planet Trask where the Frog Lady’s husband awaits. He directs them to an inn where Mando meets three Mandalorians, led by Bo-Katan Kryze. He discovers they follow a looser Mandalorian creed, as his sect is considered very extreme and others do not follow his rules of not showing his face. Bo-Katan Kryze wishes for the Darksaber that Moff Gideon acquired at the end of the first season to help her reconquer Mandalore. Lots of epic fighting scenes! 

The Siege

Mando and The Child take a detour to Nevarro where they are reunited with their former allies Cara Dune and Greef Karga who have taken law-keeping roles there. Mando helps destroy a remaining Imperial base and a laboratory from the scientist in the first season who wanted to do experiments on The Child. I loved the chase scene with the Stormtroopers on speeders. 

The Jedi

Ahsoka is alive!!!! Found on the outskirts of the city of Calodan on the planet Corvus, she is helping fight the evil magistrate, and her Jedi skills are evidently still quite strong. Mando believes she can help train The Child. It is revealed after a Jedi meld that this Baby Yoda creature’s name is Grogu and he had been in training as a Jedi before the Empire rose and he has been in hiding since, masking many of his powers. While Mando helps Ahsoka defeat the town’s cruel oppressors, Ahsoka declines to take on Grogu as his attachment to Mando is too strong and she wishes to track down Grand Admiral Thrawn (plot for her spin-off!). Rosario Dawson played the live-action Ahsoka beautifully and I was very happy with the character’s portrayal. 

The Tragedy

Following Ahsoka’s advice, Mando takes Grogu to the ancient temple on Tython. There Grogu connects with the Force sending a signal out to any remaining Jedi in the universe. But of course, it all goes to hell when Moff Gideon arrives and deploys stormtroopers to capture Grogu. And who shows up but an older and scarred Boba Fett with his sidekick Fennec Shand and he wants his armor back! The three end up working together to fight the Stormtroopers but alas they are not successful. 

The Believer

The evil Empire better not hurt my darling Grogu!! Mando enlists Cara Dune, who is now working as a Marshal of the New Republic and a prisoner of hers that is an ex-Imperial to help him find Gideon’s ship. Mando has to reveal his face in this episode when he infiltrates a ship that puts him closer to rescuing Grogu. 

The Rescue

To help him retrieve Grogu, Mando puts together a powerhouse crew of Cara, Fennec, Bo-Katan, and fellow Mandalorian Koska Reeves to help him retrieve Grogu (although some have their own agendas). The four women kick some ass on Gideon’s ship while Mando retrieves Grogu and obtains the Darksaber from Gideon. But the battle takes a turn for the worse when Dark Troopers (robots that reminded me of The Terminator movies) attack our heroes. But wait- is that an X-wing ship landing? And who is that robed powerful man who is destroying the Dark Troopers with ease? OMG- it’s Luke Skywalker!!!!! After a poignant goodbye between Mando and Grogu (yes, I teared up), Luke & R2-D2 take Grogu off into the great unknown. 

Thus ends, season two of The Mandalorian. But SO many questions remain! Is Grogu gone for good? Frankly, we all know what happens to Luke’s Jedi school, so did Grogu avoid death by Annakin just to die decades later by Kylo Ren’s hand? What of the Darksaber? What of Ahsoka? Plus, a new Star Wars series The Book of Boba Fett was teased in the end credits that will take place in the same timeline, so will these two series intersect? We also know that yet another series Rangers of the New Republic will be released, and will Cara be part of that (if she doesn’t torpedo her chances with her IRL controversial tweets)? While I have loved this series, I am nervous about the glut of Star Wars spin-offs in the works. Yes, Star Wars is a beloved franchise, but as I have the same worries with Star Trek, sometimes too much of a good thing waters down the original and the franchise becomes too unwieldy. Time will tell. In the meantime- Let The Force Be With You!

-Nancy

*All pictures and gifs are from Disney’s The Mandalorian series*

Fiction’s Fearless Females: Queen Amidala

March is Women’s History Month, and both of us here at Graphic Novelty² have joined forces for the second year with some other amazing bloggers to celebrate women under the auspicious blogging series title of: Fiction’s Fearless Females! During this month, we will have six bloggers sharing who they believe is a fictional woman to be admired, and we will share each entry of the series on our blog. Today’s post comes from Jeff of The Imperial Talker– who is an expert on all things Star Wars. His themed haikus are unmatched and deep love for the Star Wars franchise makes his blog a pleasure to read! 

Jeff of The Imperial Talker

Standing behind the doors leading into the royal hanger, the Queen of Naboo, surrounded by her loyal handmaidens and advisers, must make a choice. One path will keep the teenage monarch on Naboo, with her people, risking capture and death at the hands of the invading Trade Federation. The alternative path will take her off-world, traveling with the two Jedi escorting her, running the Trade Federation blockade above her world in the hopes of reaching Coruscant, the capital of the Republic, to plead for help directly to the Senate.

“Either choice presents great danger, to us all,” the Queen says as she turns her head and looks at the handmaiden standing next to her.

“We are brave, your Highness,” the handmaiden responds, calmly speaking for herself and the other handmaidens.

To be brave is to be fearless, to stand firm and unflinching when confronting danger. Either path the Queen takes includes the risk of death, to herself and her retinue, but these handmaidens will face the risk with fearless poise standing side-by-side with their monarch.

But there is something else at play here, another layer hidden in the dialogue between a Queen and her assistant. In this scene from The Phantom Menace, the Queen we see is not the real Queen. No, she is actually a handmaiden, a loyal bodyguard charged with protecting the Queen by serving as a decoy dressed in royal attire. And the real Queen, Padmé Amidala, she is the handmaiden who has spoken.

This truth will not be revealed until later in the film when standing before the Gungan Boss Nass this handmaiden, Padmé, will confidently step forward, risking her own safety, and declare that she is Queen Amidala. Even though this revelation takes place late in the movie the gravity of the revelation reverberates through the entire film. It is possible then to add an interpretation to the statement “We are brave” by considering that Padmé, as Queen-in-disguise, is using the royal “We” when she speaks. And by viewing the term through this lens one can easily believe that Padmé Amidala is not only affirming the bravery of the handmaidens, but she is subtly but confidently affirming, as the true sovereign of the Naboo, that she is fearless.

Amidala's Reveal
Stepping forward, Padmé reveals that she is Queen Amidala.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Again and again we see Amidala model her bravery, in word and deed, simultaneously as handmaiden/Queen throughout The Phantom Menace. This is obvious when she reveals her identity to Boss Nass. Begging for help as she gets down on her knees – an act of pragmatic and diplomatic submission – Queen Amidala places herself and her party at the grace the Gungans. It pays off as her act of fearless humility convinces Boss Nass that Gungans and the Naboo can be friends and allies.

The Queen’s courage is also obvious when she and her retinue travel to the planet Tatooine.

Their vessel damaged as it ran the Trade Federation blockade surrounding Naboo, the two Jedi accompanying the royal entourage must identify a location that is free from Federation control to perform repairs. Jedi Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi chooses a locale: the desert planet Tatooine. The head of the Queen’s guard, Captain Panaka, inquires how the Jedi know their Federation enemy is not present on the world to which Qui-Gon Jinn answers, “It’s controlled by the Hutts.” “You can’t take her royal Highness there! The Hutts are gangsters,” Panaka declares, immediately raising his concerns. Never-the-less, Tatooine, a lawless world on the fringe of the galaxy, remains their destination.

Upon landing in the desert Qui-Gon Jinn, accompanied by the astromech droid R2-D2 and the Gungan Jar Jar Binks, will head towards Mos Espa to seek out the parts they need to repair the damaged vessel. But as they head off Captain Panaka will stop them. With him is the handmaiden Padmé who remains silent as Qui-Gon and Panaka speak:

“Her Highness commands you to take her handmaiden with you,” the Captain explains.

“No more commands from her Highness today, Captain,” Qui-Gon responds, “the spaceport is not going to be pleasant.”

“The Queen wishes it. She is curious about the planet,” Panaka retorts.

“This is not a good idea,” Qui-Gon warns. “Stay close to me,” he tells the handmaiden as the group continues towards Mos Espa.

Padme joins the Group
The “handmaiden” remains silent while Captain Panaka and Qui-Gon Jinn discuss whether she should join the group.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

The exchange may not seem like much but it serves a clear purpose: to account for Padmé being part of the group heading into Mos Espa. Fair enough, but narratively this should not be necessary. If the handmaiden was part of the group to begin with we would think nothing of it. She would just be someone else who is seeking the parts for the damaged hyperdrive. So why bother briefly pausing the plot to account for the handmaiden tagging along with the party? Because Padmé is no ordinary handmaiden. Armed with the knowledge that “her Highness” IS the handmaiden, this exchange is no longer a narrative curiosity but a narrative necessity, a way of demonstrating, and reinforcing, that behind the veil of “handmaiden” resides a formidable monarch who is exercising her power and displaying her strengths.

Captain Panaka, as noted, expressed his reservation to the Jedi about taking “her royal Highness” to Hutt-controlled Tatooine. While we do not see it, we can presume he shared these reservations with the Queen herself. But now, in a surprising twist, the Captain has escorted the Queen, dressed as a commoner, into the hot desert to join the repair party. Why does he do this? Because “Her Highness” has issued a “command.” She has used her authority and given an order which the Captain is duty-bound to follow.

The command she has given – for a handmaiden to join the party – is a clever trick on the part of Amidala, a way to insert herself while maintaining anonymity. This does not come without risk. Captain Panaka is not wrong that Tatooine, being controlled by galactic gangsters, is a dangerous world. Qui-Gon Jinn acknowledges this as well, admitting that “the spaceport is not going be pleasant.” The Queen does not flinch. Instead, she is putting words into action, showing “We are brave” by placing herself in an unpredictable and potentially precarious situation.

Granted, this decision does seem ill-advised. Being fearless is laudable, but it is difficult to justify being reckless. “This is not a good idea,” Qui-Gon explains, a clear indication that he does not want anyone else to be put in danger, even a young handmaiden (although, for the record, I believe he knows Padmé is the Queen but that is a conversation for another time). Were something to happen to Amidala in Mos Espa – a run in with the Hutts, for example – the consequences could imperil not only her safety but the safety of the planet Naboo. So how can one justify her decision to join?

For starters, we can think about why she is joining the group. As Captain Panaka explains, the Queen “wishes” for the handmaiden to go with Qui-Gon Jinn because “she is curious about the planet.” Thus, we are explicitly told that the Queen is inquisitive, a quality which demonstrates her desire to lead effectively, gaining new insights and perspectives which will inform future decisions. Stuck on Tatooine for the time being, Queen Amidala chooses to step out of the comfort of her royal yacht so she might gain firsthand knowledge about her galaxy. Notably, this is exactly what happens when she meets Anakin Skywalker, a precocious 9-year-old boy, and is shocked by the revelation that he is a slave. The Queen was clearly under the impression that the abominable institution did not exist. In turn, after meeting Anakin’s mother Shmi, the Amidala learns that the Republic’s anti-slavery laws do not extend to every planet. A sobering truth that challenges her understanding of the Galactic Republic’s legal and moral reach, this discovery foreshadows the truth she learns a short time later about the ineffectiveness of the Senate and the Supreme Chancellor.

Padme and Anakin
Padmé meets Anakin Skywalker and learns a harsh truth: he is a slave.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Like her fearlessness, Amidala’s inquisitiveness is laudable. Yet, it does not entirely justify her decision to risk danger in the spaceport. Except, it does if we view it not solely as a pursuit for galactic knowledge. Rather, it should be interpreted as an example of the Queen’s strategic thinking. While Mos Espa is “not pleasant” and dangerous, given the situation it is also the safest place Queen Amidala can possibly be, a fact she must be aware of since she has given the command to “take her handmaiden.” Think of it like this: if the Trade Federation does track them down, discovering the royal yacht on the outskirts of Mos Espa, Amidala will not be there. Instead, the enemy will find the decoy Queen, along with the other handmaidens, the captain of the royal guard, and even a Jedi protector.

Meanwhile, Queen Amidala will be blending into the crowded streets of the unpleasant spaceport as the handmaiden Padmé. She will be fearlessly hiding in plain sight, as she does throughout The Phantom Menace, with no one the wiser.


Fiction’s Fearless Females is in it’s second year! Yay! The series runs for the month of March and along with myself will feature posts by Nancy and Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2, Kalie of Just Dread-full, Rob of My Side of the Laundry Room, and Mike of My Comic Relief. Be sure to follow each of these blogs (as if you don’t already!) and to check out all of the Fearless Females in the series.

*****

The Imperial Talker is Jeffrey Cagle. He holds a BA in Religious Studies from Mercyhurst College and a Masters of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt University.  A lifelong fan of everything Star Wars, Jeffrey enjoys combining his academic interests with his love of the “galaxy far, far away.” When he is not lost in his imagination, he is spending time with his family or coaching volleyball.

The Mandalorian aka The Baby Yoda Show

After some recent shaky and uneven Star Wars movies, The Mandalorian has reaffirmed my love for this franchise! In addition to the strong hero’s journey storyline, introducing the new character of Baby Yoda was a stroke of genius. I had put off watching this series, as I’m mostly a fan of the movies and have only watched a few episodes of The Clone Wars and none of Star Wars Rebels. Plus, I didn’t want to buck up money for a new channel. But then I started to hear about the big reveal after episode one, and started seeing memes for Baby Yoda and I had to watch the show for myself.

Warning- Spoilers Ahead!

The Mandalorian

Set five years after the Galactic Empire was defeated in Return of The Jedi, the Star Wars universe is in disarray. We are introduced to a new bounty hunter who looks like Boba Fett, but is a Mandalorian, from a warrior society that adheres to tenets of their faith and has their own unique integrity in regards to being bounty hunters. He accepts a bounty to search for a 50-year-old creature on a desert planet, where he is aided by a vapor farmer and bounty-droid IG-11. When he and the droid find their target they are shocked to find this adorable Yoda-like creature! I’m in love…

The Child

The Mandalorian (name unknown as of yet) fights off others just to discover the sneaky Jawas have dismantled his ship. Kuiil, the kindly farmer, helps him negotiate with the Jawas in getting his parts back that entails him fighting a huge Mudhorn. Right when things look like the Mandalorian will be defeated, Baby Yoda uses the Force to levitate the beast enabling the Mandalorian to kill it. So this begs the question- is this species born with the Force power or are they taught like we have seen other Jedi’s taught? He’s only a toddler and non-verbal, so how did he become so powerful?

The Sin

Baby Yoda is turned in for the bounty to a nefarious trader and scientist, but the Mandalorian inquires about the creature, which is atypical as bounty hunters are expected to turn in their prey with no questions asked. He is given a large payment of Besker steel which he takes to an enclave of his fellow warriors and we learn more about his society. That they seem to be honorable goes in the face of what bounty hunters do, and luckily he feels guilty and goes back to retrieve Baby Yoda. Guess what- it’s not easy getting him back.

Sanctuary

Trying to hide on the sparsely populated planet Sorgan, the Mandalorian meets Cara Dune (love her!) a kick-ass former Rebel shock trooper-turned-mercenary. Their fight for dominance ends in the cutest ever shot of Baby Yoda sipping bone broth. Squeee!  These two warriors end up helping a group of villagers who are being terrorized by raiders, and for a moment the Mandolorian feels as if he could rest and maybe even find love with a hot widowed villager. But when another bounty hunter comes looking for Baby Yoda he knows he and the baby need to leave.

The Gunslinger

After a space dogfight, the Mandalorian lands on Tatooine for repairs. While there the mechanic Peli Motto takes on a mothering role for Baby Yoda while the Mandalorian deals with other bounty hunters. Needing money he agrees to help a young bounty hunter who needs to nab a target to get his guild card. Needless to say, there are several double-crosses and it doesn’t fare well for a few of them involved in the fight.

The Prisoner

Still needing money the Mandalorian agrees to help a former friend of his whom he used to work with. His ship is used by a motley group of mercenaries who want to rescue one of the group’s brothers who is being kept on a prison ship. But everyone is out for themselves and there is betrayal after betrayal from these nasty criminals. There is true suspense when this group seems to get the better of the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda is in danger from an evil droid. But never fear, this duo outsmarts them all!

The Reckoning

The Mandalorian is contacted by the bounty hunter guild leader Greef Karga with an improbable request that supposedly will clear his name, but we all know its a set-up, so I’m kinda pissed when the Mandalorian goes along with it. He does recruit Cara and Kuiill to help him, but in doing so puts them in danger. Not surprisingly, Karga had plans to double-cross him from the start but has a change of heart when Baby Yoda saves him from dying. Moff Gideon turns up with a fleet of troopers and the group is pinned down. What will happen to the Baby?!?!

Redemption

Reprogrammed droid IG-11 redeems himself in saving Baby Yoda- because there always needs to be a good droid in every Star Wars story. He further helps by healing the Mandalorian when he seems to have a fatal wound, and we briefly see his face for the first time and learn his name is Din Djarin, who as an orphan was taken in by the Mandalorians and trained to be a warrior. Sacrifices are made, but most of the group is able to escape from Moff Gideon, setting the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda up for further adventures in season two.

I really enjoyed this series, and despite a few errant distractions, I thought this new series was beyond excellent. It definitely had a Lone Wolf and Cub vibe, as a hardened warrior needs to care for an adorable child and through their interactions, the elder character is redeemed and changed for the better. I’m glad to be so excited about Star Wars again, as the last few movies have been disappointing. I will now eagerly anticipate the next season- so in the meantime, may the Force be with you, readers!

-Nancy

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

I hope everyone had the happiest of holidays! My gift for you readers out there are my thoughts about the most recent Star Wars movie! 😉

In the last week, I have read so many thoughtful reflections on the movie, so I will post my observations as character studies as I have in past movies, such as I did in Captain Marvel and Solo. While overall my viewing experience was mostly positive, my thoughts go far beyond what I can share in character reflections, but hopefully, enough is shared for readers to understand my conflicted thoughts on this movie.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

Let’s start with the droids: C-3PO, BB-8, R2-D2  and D-O (not pictured).  No Star Wars movie is complete without an adorable or wisecracking droid. In this movie, C-3PO gets a featured role as being able to interpret a needed Sith artifact to find a hidden planet, but his sacrifice of giving up his memories is undone by D-O’s intel. Thus, his whole storyline ended up being filler, when other plot points could have been developed further. Still, it is always good to see these droids as part of the action!

Star Wars did Rose dirty! Obviously, they listened to some toxic fans who didn’t like her possible romance with Finn, and cut her role down to a bare minimum. She was left on the Rebel Base the entire time with little to do and no character development. She deserved more (plus, she almost didn’t get a character poster- this one was released after the rest)! For a thoughtful in-depth analysis of how Rose’s character was treated, read Jeff’s post The (Mis) Use of Rose Tico on The Imperial Talker site.

So instead we got a new character shoved down our throats- Jannah. She is an ex-Stormtrooper, who along with other trooper deserters gets sucked into the action. She is paired with Finn (instead of Rose!) in the last battles because obviously Finn always needs some sort of female side-kick in every movie. While I do think she was kinda cool, it took away from Rose, and what was the deal with her conversation with Lando in the last scene???Zorii is a rebel in a Boba Fett type costume that is from Poe’s past and plays a part in helping Rey, Finn and Poe get some needed information from C-3PO’s memory banks (which later proved to be a waste of time). I love actress Keri Russell who played her and was relieved when she lowered her face mask at one time to see some of her face. I liked the moment in the end when she didn’t automatically get swept up in Poe’s arms for a finale kiss (how very woke) but a bit of romance in this film would have also been welcome.

I’m throwing General Hux in here, although he did not receive an official movie poster. I always liked Hux’s scenes in all the movies, as he always came off as a petulant child, which I found amusing. So when he was revealed as the spy, I was thrilled as he helped Rey, Finn and Poe escape. However his true motivation was not in helping them, it was to screw over Kylo Ren who had disrespected him in front of others. Hux was not redeemed, as many people stay bitter and angry at the end, and I found that angle more realistic.

Chewie- the one surviving character that was in all three of the original Star Wars movies! I laughed when he received the medal that he should have received in A New Hope– there was finally #JusticeForChewie! I do wish he had received more character development in this recent set of three movies, as he was an integral part of the rebel alliance and he should have interacted more with Han, Luke and Leia. At least he was reunited with Lando for some fun adventure in this film.

Thank you for bringing back Lando! This rebel general still wears his capes with aplomb, and he was a needed legacy character to balance what little they did with Han, Luke and Leia. With Carrie Fisher’s death and the fact that Han and Luke’s characters were dead, this fan-favorite helped bring that chapter to a close. But is Lando’s story over? The clunky dialogue with Jannah at the end seemed to point to Disney having more adventures planned for this scoundrel.

I believe that Finn is force-sensitive. Is this what he was planning to say to Rey, or did he want to declare his love to her? Finn always seemed to be connected to a female in the three movies, first Rey, then Rose (did he ghost her?) and finally Jannah. There was always romantic tension with him and these three ladies, and let’s not forget his bro-mance with Poe! There were many fans who were clamoring for a relationship to develop between the men but frankly, Disney would never be brave enough to do that, instead, they had two females kiss in the last scene between characters we barely knew. Finn was my favorite of the new characters, his good nature and loyalty won me over.

Poe was first written as a Han-type, a pilot who could be a bit morally ambiguous but have the classic heart of gold. His leadership progressed in this film, and I finally truly saw him as a leader of the resistance, and someone who deserved the title of General. While Oscar Issac has leading-man looks, Poe never really had a romance developed for him, except for hints that perhaps something with Zorii will develop in the future.

I will always wonder what storyline was planned for Leia and Kylo, had Carrie Fisher not died. He killed his father and was a mass-murderer, how was he possibly going to be redeemed? That a romance with Rey was suggested throughout the movies, and their kiss before his death was part of his redemption was very uncomfortable because it played up a toxic and abusive relationship as romantic. What a horrible message to young viewers that one partner needs to put up with their partner’s abuse, because they can “save” that person. Please read the astute post from Michael of My Comic Relief: Reylo’s Role In Redemption- A The Rise of Skywalker Reflection that goes into much thoughtful reflection on the problems with a Rey and Kylo relationship. Seeking forgiveness and granting forgiveness is not and should not be a one-time conversation or deed by one person. While Kylo’s character was layered and Adam Driver is an amazing actor, his role was problematic from the start.

Rey is a strong character whom I liked quite a bit, but who was tarnished at the end with her family ancestry and with her choice of love interest. And what was the deal with her new healing powers? No Jedi in the past has ever done that. There had been much speculation that Rey would be Luke’s child or even Ben Kenobi’s, but in the end, she was shown to be the evil Palpatine’s grandchild. What?! Why was Palpatine even alive, much less that he had had an adult child who smuggled Rey away from him? While I hated almost all of The Last Jedi, the one thing I did like is that Jedi (or anyone) don’t need to come from an important family, they literally can come from anywhere. That was an important message for moviegoers, but that was erased here for Rey to now be fighting the dark side and her family connection to it. And that she choose Kylo to passionately kiss, over loyal and steadfast Finn? What the fuck! I did like her concluding scene, as she claims the Skywalker name, showing that one can claim their family alliance over blood-ties.

Lastly, and most importantly, let’s go over my beloved original three of Luke, Leia and Han Solo. I was devastated that Luke became a grumpy hermit and later died in the last movie (see my passionate post An Ignoble End to the Skywalker Saga on The Imperial Talker’s site) and in this movie, there was a bit of course correction in his role as a Jedi ghost, but what was done was done. Considering Fisher’s death, director JJ Abrams did his very best with existing footage of Leia to craft her farewell role. She got a good concluding arc, showing how she was helping train Rey as a Jedi, which was a lovely nod to her Skywalker heritage and the flashback to her and Luke during her own training was heartfelt and tied up some loose threads. I believe she was supposed to help redeem Kylo, and at least she did play a small role in helping him turn although I will always be sad that she and Kylo were never able to play a scene together. Han’s cameo came as a lovely surprise, I’m sure in part to push the narrative that Kylo’s parent’s love helped turn Kylo back to the Light. I just dearly wish that these three had been given a scene together (along with Chewie)- it will always be a shame that the directors choose not to have them reunite in some way.

While I’m sure Disney is far from done with Star Wars storytelling, this movie brought to a close the Skywalker saga. There is no way that all fans could be satisfied with any narrative that Disney filmed, but I just wished they had been able to capture the scope and mysticism that George Lucas had brought to his imagined universe. However, I will be forever grateful that these stories were told, and they have captured so many people’s imagination. May the Force be with you!

-Nancy

Fiction’s Fearless Females: Rey

In celebration of Women’s History Month and beyondboth of us here at Graphic Novelty² have joined forces with some other amazing bloggers to celebrate women under the auspicious blogging series title of: Fiction’s Fearless Females! This is the seventh of our planned eight piece series, and Kiri of Star Wars Anonymous features Rey of Star Wars!  In Kiri’s Star Wars blog she shares heartfelt reasons why Rey is fearless and connects the theme to love and her own life. Make sure you check out out her site and her thoughts on a galaxy far, far away…

Guest Blogger: Kiri of Star Wars Anonymous 

I have heard that the opposite of love is fear, not hate, which may be first emotion that comes to mind due to the love/hate analogies we often make. If we go by that assumption, then someone who is fearless, or without fear, is someone who loves immensely.

When asked by My Comic Relief to join in on the #FictionsFearlessFemales and write about a character from Star Wars, I immediately thought of Rey. Not Leia, like so many people often think of when they think about a fearless woman from Star Wars. Not Leia, but Rey.

Why is that?

As I dove deeper into my own exploration of Rey versus Leia and why I think Rey epitomizes a fearless woman more, I realized that much of why I like Rey is due to her relatability. Leia is stone, Rey is warmth. It’s not to say that Leia is not fearless, but more that I believe Rey is easier for me to relate to in her fearlessness.

When going by the theory that the opposite of fear is love, Rey demonstrates that in full capacity. When loving to your fullest extent, you:

  1. Love yourself
  2. Love others
  3. Love life

That is how you are fearless.

My past 6 months have been a whirlwind of horrible fear. In a nutshell, I have been bombarded with heavy subjects like drugs, addiction, overdose, death, and loss of money. I was not fearless. Even just writing this makes my heart rate rise and I get clammy hands. It was like an earthquake happened in my life. I am still dealing with aftershocks of this earthquake which namely include my lack of sleep due to hypnic jerks which leave me awake until 2 or 3am that happen night after night, physical symptoms that have been knots in my stomach for months so much so that I can’t distinguish happy or tense emotions from general anxiety, and pins and needles in my chest from sleeping in the fetal position every night.

I am not fearless. I am fear-filled.

To break away from fear, you need to love. You need to accept your limitations and others and love the life you have.

LOVE YOURSELF

Rey loves herself. I think she had to learn to love herself and be okay with waiting days on end for parents to return to her. This was part of her core and it gave her hope on Jakku. Even after the horrible realization that her parents were nobodies in The Last Jedi, she did not give into fear. Giving into fear would have been joining Kylo Ren because he would then represent the safety that she had been looking for in her parents. But Rey realized, or had possibly been beginning to realize through her training and with the mirror, that the safety and home she was looking for could only be found in herself.

Loving yourself means having a strong conviction and not deterring from it. Rey shows that stronger than any other Star Wars character, except possibly Luke in the Original Trilogy. In The Last Jedi, we are bombarded with the message of the movie: hope. But I think the message of the movie is always doing what you think is right, no matter what others think. Rey exemplifies this throughout both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, but especially in The Last Jedi. I would not be able to continue to do what was right after

being turned away by Luke. She followed her feelings and went to save Kylo, even if it didn’t work out. She went back to the Resistance, instead of going back to Luke at the end of the movie even though it may have made more sense to continue her training. She knew she was needed with the Resistance, to bring them hope again. Rey’s sense of self makes her more fearless than many people I know in my everyday life.

LOVE OTHERS

Rey shows her love for others unabashedly. It’s one of the character traits that I aspire to – the fact that she can show her emotions and not fear her emotions.

So often our society tells us to hide our emotions and Hollywood perpetuates this with their definition of “strong”. I think it is the main reason that I could not relate to Leia when I grew up but related more to Luke. The one scene that I would act out over and over again when I was younger was when Luke tells Leia about Vader being her father. It’s the one scene where she lets her guard down, where her emotions overtake her and she needs to be held by Han at the end. It’s a glimmer of emotion.

I immediately connected to Rey after the first viewing of The Force Awakens. She laughs with such joy over simple fixes in the Millennium Falcon, her excitement over meeting Han Solo is so real, and her devastation over Finn’s possible death and serious wounds tugged my heart strings. Rey wears her heart on her sleeve and I love her for that.

She continues this in The Last Jedi. Her anger at Kylo erupts from her when she yells at him for not appreciating his father, her frustration with Luke at his unwillingness to help culminates in physical fight, and her delight in seeing Finn at the end of the movie reminds us of her loyalty to her friends and the Resistance.

I hope that we see more women like this in movies as Hollywood continues to evolve. Not only for women, but also for men. It’s okay to cry and it’s okay to be unrestrained in your joy. We don’t need to act like toddlers with no control whatsoever, but we need to get over our fear of showing our emotions. We need to become fearless, like Rey.

LOVE LIFE

 

 

 

 

 

We love life by walking through it without fear holding us back. We take leaps of chance, hoping it turns out okay, and if it doesn’t, knowing that we will be okay in the end. When you’re filled with fear, you don’t follow your passions, it’s hard to make attachments and your focus is keeping yourself safe.

While safety is important, if we are always full of fear about something happening, we miss out on the beauty life offers us.

Rey waited around on Jakku for her parents to return for a long time and with a lot of patience. But when Finn and BB-8 were thrown into her life, she accepted the change and went along with what life threw at her. She had an adventure of a lifetime.

Rey loved herself enough to know that she would harness life and try new things without fear. She felt the Force, and used it to get out of her jail cell. She went off in search of Luke Skywalker and stayed there until she knew life was pushing her in a different direction. Rey could have stayed on Ahch-To long past when she left, insisting on doing things the “right” way and getting a complete training. But instead, she followed a different path and believed that life and the Force would take her where she needed to be.

We may not have the Force, but we do have gut feelings. We are only given one life, as far as we know. Don’t give into the fear of feeling like nothing will work out and that you need to remain safe. That is a fear trap.

If you made it to the end of the post, I hope you are swayed on how Rey is fearless, and perhaps more fearless than Leia. Today is my birthday and while I was writing this, I knew that this next year had to be one of less fear and more love. To stop worrying because what will be, will be. I no longer want to feel the chains of fear, but instead to have more conviction in my beliefs, show more emotion, and take chances that throw me into an adventure.

In short, I hope to be more like Rey and be FEARLESS.

******

I’ve joined forces with some other exciting bloggers and YouTubers – Nancy and Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2, Rob of My Side of the Laundry Room, Jeff of The Imperial Talker, Kalie of Just Dread-full, Mike of My Comic Relief and Green Onion of The Green Onion Blog – for a little salute to “Fiction’s Fearless Females.” Starting on International Women’s Day and going forward over the next couple months, a different contributor will offer their take on a favorite female who harbors a fearless spirit. Click on the links below to read about the other women being profiled.

Fiction’s Fearless Females

Ellen Ripley

Captain Janeway

Amy Pond

Wonder Woman

Scarlett

Princess Leia

Fiction’s Fearless Females: Princess Leia

In celebration of Women’s History Monthboth of us here at Graphic Novelty² have joined forces with some other amazing bloggers to celebrate women under the auspicious blogging series title of: Fiction’s Fearless Females! This is the sixth of our planned eight piece series, and Jeff of The Imperial Talker features Princess Leia of Star Wars! I do not think it was a coincidence he posted the feature on his site the day before the first trailer dropped for Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (OMG, the movie looks fantastic!). Read on to find out what this Star Wars expert has to say about the indomitable Leia Organa!  

Guest Blogger: Jeff of The Imperial Talker

There is a line in Star Wars: A New Hope which often gets lost in the greater scope of the film, a quote which points to the toughness of the movie’s lone female protagonist, Princess Leia. It comes when Darth Vader, the movie’s villain, speaks to Grand Moff Tarkin, the secondary villain in the film. Pacing back and forth as if annoyed, Vader admits that, “Her [Leia’s] resistance to the mind probe is considerable. It will be some time before we can extract any information from her.” Prior to this admission, we saw Vader enter Princess Leia’s prison cell with an interrogation droid floating behind him, a needle protruding from the droid and Leia’s face giving off subtle apprehension. Now, Vader states that it was for not, that the Princess has resisted this “mind probe” and that breaking her will take more time.

I have always loved this line; it has always resonated with me because it points directly to the fearless resolve which resides in the heart of Princess Leia. Even before Vader utters these words, we know that Leia is a force to be reckoned with, a whirlwind of confidence capable of holding her own. After all, it is Leia who was leading the mission to Tatooine to find Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi at the film’s outset. When the ship fell under attack, Leia created a new plan to secure Kenobi’s help EVEN AS IMPERIAL SOLDIERS STORMED THE VESSEL! Dispatching the droid R2-D2 to Tatooine’s surface, Leia awaited her inevitable capture, and even shoots/kills an Imperial stormtrooper before she is apprehended.

Leia and Vader
Leia confronts Darth Vader after her ship is attacked and she is captured.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Captured by the Empire’s white-armored soldiers, Princess Leia is escorted before Darth Vader, the nefarious and imposing villain we were JUST formally introduced to as he lifted a man by the neck and crushed his windpipe. The black-clad Vader towers above the petite, white dressed Princess, an obvious visual meant to represent the power of the evil Empire towering over the small, fledgling Rebellion. But Leia is far from intimidated. Oh no, not only does she stand tall next to this masked monster, she speaks first AND is the one who chastises him with palpable disdain!!!

In just a few frames, Leia presents herself as competent and fearless, especially under pressure. Rather than quivering and backing down, she boldly stands her ground against imposing odds. It is no wonder then that later, when Darth Vader assaults Leia, probing her mind for the “location of the Rebel base”, her resistance is “considerable.” Princess Leia is the embodiment of fearless resolve, the very heart and soul of the small Rebellion against an Empire which spans a galaxy. There was never a chance the mind probe would work, it was always going to be an act of futility on the part of Vader.

An Alternative Form of Persuasion

It is Grand Moff Tarkin who chooses a new tactic to extract the information they seek following the failure of the mind-probe. Rather than probing her mind, Tarkin gives Leia a choice: give up the location of the Rebel base OR watch as her home planet of Alderaan is destroyed by the Death Star superweapon. It is a brilliant move on Tarkin’s part, one that catches Leia off-guard. Pleading with him, the Princess turns into a supplicant as she tells the Grand Moff her planet is “peaceful” and has “no weapons.” Tarkin, of course, does not care and, presenting the question again, demands to know where the Rebel base is located. It is now that Leia gives in: “Dantooine. They’re on Dantooine.”

Leia Stares Down Tarkin
Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin square-off.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

That Leia gives in to Tarkin is shocking, but all the more painful as Leia must continue to stand and watch as Alderaan is destroyed. This is an unsurprising move on Tarkin’s part, an obvious example being made to the whole galaxy (and the Princess) that no one, not even “peaceful” worlds, are safe from Imperial military might. Now, the fearless young woman who stood her ground at the film’s opening, who chastised Vader and resisted his mind probe must steel herself as she watches her home world and her family perish in a ball of fire.

And yet, what we do not realize in this moment is that Leia has tricked Tarkin. Presented with the choice of Alderaan being destroyed OR the Rebellion being destroyed, the quick-thinking Princess chose a different route: an open-ended lie. We do not discover this right away, not until an Imperial officer informs Tarkin that scout ships discovered a deserted Rebel base on Dantooine. Furious, but more importantly humiliated, the Grand Moff orders the immediate execution of the Princess.

That Leia lies about the location of the Rebel base is brilliant, a narrative misdirect that leads Tarkin and the audience alike to THINK this strong-willed woman has caved under pressure. It is easy to forget this, as later we DO discover the real location of the Rebel base. But in this instance, we are led to believe Leia has given it up, that Dantooine is, in fact, the location. Instead, what we discover a few scenes later is that Princess Leia was in control the entire time, and while her plea to the Grand Moff that “Alderaan is peaceful” is certainly genuine, it, too, was also part of her quick thinking plan to save both Alderaan AND the Rebellion.

Awaiting Tarkin’s Fury

Knowing she has lied to Grand Moff, we can surmise that after being returned to her cell that the Princess sat and waited for Tarkin’s fury. Surely, too, she sat there in mourning, the loss of her world and family weighing heavily on her heart. One could hardly criticize the fearless female if she did break down and cry, although it is hardly necessary to know whether she did. The imagination is enough in this case.

Regardless, when we next see Leia she is reclining on the hard bench in her detention cell. Luke Skywalker, wearing stormtrooper armor, barges in to the rescue and, without missing a beat, the reclined Princess – certainly suspecting Tarkin’s fury has arrived – directs a shot of insulting sarcasm at the soldier: “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” While Vader’s comment about her resistance to the mind-probe directly points to Leia’s strong-willed personality, this shot of sarcasm – coupled with the sarcasm she throws at Tarkin earlier (see video clip) – highlights her constant disposition towards her Imperial foes. Basically, Leia is always ready to level an attack against the Empire, even if that attack is in the form of words alone.

But she is also more than happy to criticize her own allies, in this case her rescuers: Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca. Cornered by Imperial soldiers in the detention center, the Princess chastises the films heroic men, noting that it “Looks like you managed to cut off our only escape route.” What makes this all the better is that the quick-thinking Princess – who, we should remember, was not anticipating a rescue – immediately comes up with a plan and puts it into action. Taking the blaster from Skywalker, Leia blasts open the wall across from her and demands that everyone jump into the garbage chute. Before objections can be raised, Leia is already on her way into the depths of a Death Star trash compactor.

To be perfectly honest, this has always been my favorite “Leia Moment” in A New Hope. On one hand, her action makes the film’s heroes – Luke and Han – look incredibly foolish for not actually thinking about HOW they should go about completing their rescue mission. On the other hand, and more importantly, this moment demonstrates a clear reversal in fortune for the Princess. When the film begins, and her ship falls under attack, the protocol droid C-3PO tells R2-D2, “There will be no escape for the Princess this time.” True in that moment, C-3PO is ultimately proven wrong as Leia not only escapes, but does so by taking control of her own rescue when she and her allies are quite literally backed into a corner.

Into the Garbage Chute
“Into the garbage chute, flyboy!” – Princess Leia
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

But there is an additional element of control which Leia brings to her escape: her decision to travel directly to the Rebel Base on Yavin 4. Why, if Leia knew the Millennium Falcon was being tracked, would she willingly lead the Empire to the Rebel Base, the location she resisted sharing with Vader and Tarkin? For some time, I felt this was a curious move on her part, a clear flaw in her thinking. Yet, the deeper I have considered it, the more I have realized that it is the safest choice given the stakes. With Alderaan destroyed and Obi-Wan Kenobi dead, Princess Leia is left with the only choice that makes any sense: getting the Death Star schematics stored in R2-D2 to the Rebel High Command as quickly as possible. A detour to another world, or a stop to acquire a new ship, runs the risk of Imperial capture, while traveling directly to the Rebellion ensures that the Death Star information (not to mention her own life) is protected. Besides, the sooner the schematics are delivered, the sooner the Rebellion can craft a plan of attack to destroy the planet-killing superweapon.

A Beacon of Hope

Once Leia and company arrive at the Rebel Base on Yavin 4 her role in the film becomes primarily observational. While Luke Skywalker will jump into an X-Wing to participate in the impending engagement, and Han Solo will get a reward and leave before the fight begins, Leia will stand in the Rebel Command Center watching the battle unfold on display screens. Admittedly, it is a bit odd that with the Death Star approaching and preparing to destroy the Rebel Base, Leia (along with others) choose to stand-around watching rather than evacuating. On some level, this sorta gives away what we know the inevitable outcome of the battle will be: the Rebels will win and the Death Star will be destroyed.

On another level, though, that Leia remains in the Command Center puts the final stamp of bravery on her fearless nature. With the Death Star approaching and preparing to destroy Yavin 4, it is conceivable that the Princess was asked (perhaps even ordered!) to evacuate before the battle begins, her safety and importance to the Rebellion being tantamount. Instead, by remaining, Princess Leia reveals once more that she is the very heart of the Rebel cause, a beacon of hope for the Rebel soldiers fighting the Imperial war machine. She may not be in an X-Wing or Y-Wing fighting the battle, nor giving orders as a General, but Leia’s stoic presence in the face of imminent death testifies not only to her personal resolve, but also the resolve of the Rebel Alliance.

Given her status and importance to the Rebellion, it is unsurprising that Princess Leia is the one to bestow medallions upon Luke Skywalker and Han Solo following the Battle of Yavin. With the Death Star destroyed, the two men (accompanied by Chewbacca) will march down the center of a great hall, flanked on both sides by the entire assembly of Rebels on Yavin 4. Arriving at the bottom of a staircase, the trio ascend the steps until they are standing before, albeit slightly below, the magnificently dressed Leia. This is the only point in the film in which Leia has changed clothing, and she is now without the iconic hair “buns.” Wearing a gown, with her hair in a braided updo and jewlery draping her neck, Leia now, officially and formally, looks like a Princess. Never-the-less, while she is resplendent in her royal attire, we also know that there is far more to her than meets the eye, and that what makes Princess Leia truly regal is her considerable fearlessness and capacity for hope in the face of overwhelming odds.

The Princess
The Princess
Gif Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope


I’ve joined forces with some other exciting bloggers and YouTubers – Nancy and Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2, Rob of My Side of the Laundry Room, Kiri of Star Wars Anonymous, Kalie of Just Dread-full, Mike of My Comic Relief and Green Onion of The Green Onion Blog – for a little salute to “Fiction’s Fearless Females.” Starting on International Women’s Day and going forward over the next couple months, a different contributor will offer their take on a favorite female who harbors a fearless spirit. Click on the links below to read about the other women being profiled.

Fiction’s Fearless Females

Ellen Ripley

Captain Janeway

Amy Pond

Wonder Woman

Scarlett

Star Wars: Darth Vader

Darth Vader gets his first extended graphic novel series penned by Kieron Gillen and it gives us a look at Vader’s life between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Not surprisingly, Vader is a bad ass here.

I recently joined a Goodreads group called I Read Comic Books and every month a new graphic novel is chosen to discuss. I wished I had joined this group earlier as they have discussed many books that I have enjoyed and reviewed in the past. March’s vote strongly skewed towards this Star Wars selection and I happily decided to join in.

In this first volume,  the action picks  up soon after the destruction of the Death Star. The Emperor is far from pleased with Vader and puts him under the command of Grand Admiral Tagge, a man Vader looks at as simply a data cruncher with no vision. Vader knows he needs to watch his back so while doing the Emperor’s bidding, Vader decides to build his own droid army. He employs some familiar faces such as Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett as well as a dark haired Wookie. He also conscripts shady Dr. Aphra and two assassin robots, 000 and BT-1, to do his dirty work. Interspersed throughout are his memories of his time with Padmé, and in the end the bounty hunters give him his first clue in identifying Luke as his son.

Last year I read the excellent short story collection Star Wars: From A Certain Point Of View and I discovered a character that I didn’t know before that collection is in this graphic novel.  Double checking my review, I wrote of the story The Trigger “Aphra is a dubious archaeologist who skirts the law on Dantooine. Captured by stormtroopers she talks her way out of trouble. She was an unfamiliar character to me, but her fleshed out backstory hinted that she plays more of a role in Star Wars canon, so I wasn’t surprised to realize she can be found in many Star Wars graphic novels.” And guess who wrote that short story? None other than Kieron Gillen! Gillen’s work in these Star Wars novels and The Wicked and The Divine series shows that he has an excellent handle on pop-culture.

The artwork was appropriately dark hued with black gutters. Artist Salvador Larroca ably recreated characters from the movies while creating new inhabitants in the Star Wars universe that fit in with the space look we have come to expect from the movies. I really enjoyed the cover art on chapter two from Adi Granov that showed Vader striding by a bunch of Stormtroopers and Tagge with his cape flying out behind him and the coloring by Edgar Delgado was spot-on.

This book fits in the approved Disney canon, but it didn’t move me as I am really only a fan of the Star Wars movies and I wasn’t invested in the narrative. Because all the action is between two movies you know the main characters will live while new characters will die, thus when Palpatine threatened Vader with replacing him with new apprentices, I was not worried in the least. So while I understand on one level that this is a well written and illustrated graphic novel, I will not continue with the series due to my personal preference for the movies.

-Nancy

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