Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Scanned Thoughts: Princess Leia #1

I used to think that only women saw the appeal of princesses. I admit, it’s a sweet gig. They get to live in a big ass castle, spend a fuckton of money they never worked a day of their life to earn, and have an army of servants that will do anything short of gouging their own eyes out for shits and giggles. But then I discovered the internet and Rule 34. I think it’s safe to say that men have a sweet spot for princesses in addition to some pretty fucked up tastes in porn. Men are just as capable of being allured by a rich, powerful woman and will channel their inner Anna Nichole Smith to get it. In that sense, Princess Leia is the ultimate princess for man-child-whores.

She’s got everything most princesses only wish they had. She’s sexy, tough, charismatic, and she doesn’t need to throw money at people to get them to listen to her. And instead of spending her money on Gucci purses and manicures, she spends her money refining her skills with a blaster. That and she looks great in a metal bikini. Can’t take that away from her. And now that Star Wars is owned by Disney, the mack daddy of fantasy princesses, it’s only natural that they would give Princess Leia her own series. And Princess Leia #1 makes a strong case that she fucking deserves it.

First, she shows that she knows how to be a princess in the classical sense. She can look all pretty and royal during a ceremony. And as it just so happens, she gets to do just that at the iconic ceremony where she awards Luke, Han, and Chewy with metals for their efforts to destroy the Death Star. It’s a nice touch because it helps pick things up directly where A New Hope left off, giving a sense of continuity that the Marvel movies have gotten us addicted to. She also gives a nice, but half-hearted speech about the destruction of Alderan. It’s not exactly a speech in the spirit of Winston Churchill, but it is a fitting job for a princess in terms of being an inspirational figure. In terms of being a princess, that’s something that will surely satisfy the Disney overlords.

Her lackluster speech doesn’t go unnoticed by the other rebels. They have a right to be a little concerned. She’s still the fucking princess now. Like it or not, she’s a figurehead. She’s supposed to inspire a rebellion that’s going against an Empire that has the resources to build giant planet-killing space stations. Some say she just needs time to mourn for the loss of her home world and that’s fair. But when they’re up against enemies like Darth Vader, whose idea of mourning probably involves Force choking a gungan, mourning is kind of a luxury.

She still takes the time to meet with Han, Chewy, and Luke. It makes for some nice moments that perfectly capture they chemistry they established over the course of A New Hope. And because this happens before numerous revelations, some might get a bit of an incest vibe from Luke and Leia. But that shit is best left to perverse minds that ensure Rule 34 has no exceptions. What makes this moment meaningful is that Luke points out how Leia tends to avoid leaning on others for support. That’s kind of how they ended up in a trash compactor on the Death Star. And if they want to end up in less trash compactors, then that might be something she should think about.

This leads to some more royal paper-pushing that’s barely as compelling as it sounds. Leia meets up with Admiral “It’s a Trap!” Ackbar in hopes of meeting with General Dodonna. Despite looking like a prop in a fish tank, he’s a real hardass. He just barely touches on the loss of Alderan, giving Leia the same attention as Homer Simpson gives his kids during a football game. It feels unnecessary and tedious, but it helps establish the kind of environment Leia has to work in. I just think there are much easier ways of showing how royal politics sucks.

She eventually does get to meet General Dodonna, who isn’t much more charismatic than Ackbar. He just looks like a bad cross between an Amish guy and Jor-El from Superman. He’s not as much a hardass, but he offers more proof that rebel politics still suck. Leia makes it clear that she wants to serve the rebellion as more than just a pretty figurehead who gives out metals. Dodonna takes it about as seriously as my high school guidance counselor when I told him I wanted to fly rockets and bang hot alien women. But unlike my guidance counselor, Dodonna offers a more valid reason aside from my rocket science skills being on par with my last algebra test.

Dodonna points out that because of her status, the Empire has a price on her head that would turn any drunk with an excessive bar tab into a bounty hunter. Like it or not, she’s still the face of the rebellion. It wouldn’t be good for anyone if that face ended up getting served on a platter with a side of Wookie’s leg in front of the Emperor. He even says that the Empire is hunting down surviving Alderanians to look for her. So if she has any plans to head out into the galaxy and piss off the Empire, she can forget it. This still isn’t the typical excuse that old men in Disney movies use to keep princesses in line, but it serves the same purpose.

Even if Dodonna’s reason is valid, Princess Leia doesn’t care for it. So she starts snooping around some of the other rebels, listening in on what they think of her as a figurehead. She probably heard more than a few remarks about how she looked sexier with her Cinnabon hair, but she eventually does come across something more valid.

One female rebel pilot, Evaan, was especially vocal about her lackluster speech. She quickly bites her tongue and clenches her asshole when Leia approaches, but she doesn’t ask for her head. She asks for an honest assessment and she fucking gets it. Evaan reveals that she was among the lucky Alderans who wasn’t there when the Death Star paid them a visit. She even reveals that she was mentored by Leia’s (adopted) mother. So she has an emotional stake in losing her planet as well and she get pissed when the so-called princess doesn’t react as strongly as she should.

She still shows some loyalty to Leia, but she’s not exactly lining up to kiss her royal boots. She wants what Leia wants. She wants to save what’s left of Alderan, but she’s not going to do that by just fucking mourning. Evaan’s point is entirely valid and Leia probably agrees with it. That said, I’m still not sure what to make of Evaan. She’s a pretty blonde rebel pilot, but not in the Emma Frost sort of way. She’s basically a copy of what Princess Leia already feels. She has some history, but not enough to make her interesting just yet.

But this story isn’t about Evaan or her opinion on ineffectual princesses. This is about Leia going from a princess who hands out shiny metals and kisses smugglers to a badass rebel fighter. She finally takes a big step when she leaves General Dodonna an elaborate message essentially telling him she understands his advice, but she thinks it’s full of shit. So in the form of another holographic message from R2, she doesn’t ask for help. She just tells him that she’s going to be a stubborn, hardass princess who actually fights for her people. She basically says she’s going to be the ruler that some people wish President Obama could be. Except Leia doesn’t have to deal with Congress so she’s got a leg up.

She ends up getting help from Evaan. While General Dodonna is shitting himself and/or jerking off to the idea of a princess being a badass rebel, they jump an X-wing and fly off Yavin. It’s a critical step and one that’s pretty momentous in the context of the Star Wars mythos. This is Leia going from the woman who needed rescuing to the woman who rescues others. It’s a big part of what made her even sexier in that metal bikini during Return of the Jedi and now that process has begun. Star Wars fans of all kinds should appreciate this moment.

The rest of the rebels aren’t quite as enthusiastic about it. General Dodonna sends a couple of other X-wings after her to reel her in. He even includes Luke and Wedge. That adds a little extra tension because if they were just random rebels, Princess Leia could just tell them to go fuck off. But these are two pilots whose last mission involved blowing up the Death Star. She can’t exactly challenge them to a space drag race or something, especially when Luke went through the trouble of rescuing her. I’m sure he doesn’t want to get stuck in a trash compactor with her again.

While the tension is nice, it’s not all that dramatic. There’s no heartfelt plea or anything. But there is a nice space dog-fight. There are no shots fired or anything so it’s not as flashy as the Death Star battle, but it isn’t intended to be. It’s pretty much the only major action in the story thus far, but it serves a purpose. I guess in a poetic sense, it can symbolize Leia running from her old duties as Princess to embrace her new duties as a rebel. I never cared much for poetry so I’ll just say it’s a glorified chase scene.

It takes a little tact and deception, but Leia does eventually manage to get the better of Luke and Wedge. Evaan is able to make the jump into hyperspace and they get away. So Luke and Wedge fail in their mission to retrieve her, but Luke isn’t all that upset about it. He probably had a feeling that dragging Leia back to Yavin would be more trouble than it’s worth. He just got done destroying the Death Star. He deserves a pass, especially if Leia is going to do something badass. She just needs to stay away from trash compactors.

Now in hyperspace, Princess Leia embraces her new friend and they set out on a new mission. And hopefully, this one won’t end with them needing to be rescued. It’s a good moment, although it’s still hard to make a judgment on Evaan. Right now, she’s just the pilot crazy enough to help the princess. She doesn’t have much of a personality or a role yet, but she’ll probably have to get one soon if she’s going to survive a mission with Princess Leia. She’ll just have to hope that Hugh Hefner’s method of using hot blondes to fulfill his life goals has some merit.

There’s something to be said about powerful women rebelling against propriety, even in an age where there are more washed up reality stars than there are royal families. It’s a concept that terrifies powerful men for some reason or another. The idea that a princess has to be sheltered rather than kick ass sounds like one of those old school traditions that was basically an elaborate excuse to keep powerful women from fucking around and having illegitimate kids. It may or may not apply in the world of Star Wars, but Princess Leia gave that shit the finger in a very satisfying way.

The strength of this issue is establishing clearly that Princess Leia is not content with just being a princess anymore. She just lost her planet. She recently got herself kidnapped. Rather than curl up in a ball and cry about it into a pile of royal silk sheets, she decides to do something about it. She decides to be part of the rebellion rather than just be a symbol. It’s a defining moment that helps highlight her transition from a helpless princess in A New Hope to a badass rebel in The Empire Strikes Back.

It still unfolded a bit too slowly and lacked good melodrama, but it felt like a complete transition. Princess Leia made the decision that will set her on the path to teaming up with Ewoks and she made it in a convincing manner. She even gained a new gal pal in Evaan to help her. She’s not exactly iconic just yet, but she’s already more compelling than Queen Amadala ever was. I give Princess Leia #1 a 7 out of 10. This is a book that feminists and fanboys alike can enjoy. Raging douche-bags or Downton Abby fans might not care for it, but the existence of those assholes are the exact reason why characters like Princess Leia are so important.


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