When I first started reading this title, I wasn’t aware that the stories were going to feature different protagonists nor be semi-standalone, but that seems to be the way they’re going. Even more interesting, the series features the franchise regulars you’d expect, but not in the WAY you’d expect. We get to see Matt Kindt writing these new, different protagonists who run afoul of the likes of Han Solo and, in this issue, Princess Leia, but we get to see how the average Rebel operative would view such characters. Han’s got a great rep built up, so there’s sure to be plenty of confidence from an outside perspective, but it’s interesting to see someone doubt Leia’s credentials. And with good reason if you put yourself in her shoes: imagine you’re a highly trained spy who’s been working at infiltrating the Empire and collecting information and contacts only to hear your contact is some spoiled, rich Princess whose planet is most famous for being destroyed. But then we get to see Leia not so much prove herself, as prove her contact wrong. She's not even aware she's doing it, but that makes it even cooler and elevates her character to some amazing levels, but never without seeming ridiculous or overly-manufactured. I always like seeing an outsider’s perspective on well-worn ground and Princess Leia, one of the best, most consistent sci-fi badasses makes for fertile ground for such a perspective. Han made some pretty pointed jokes about Leia’s heritage and qualifications, but seeing someone else have those same doubts, and seeing their internal monologue and justification is worth a look. Particularly because we don’t just see Leia as a hard-bitten soldier but as a socialite, using her regal status and training to her best advantage in an organic, interesting way.
Marco Castiello returns on pencils and does a much more solid job in this issue. I, of course, didn’t dislike his style last issue, but it had a lot of flaws that aren’t as prevalent this time around, with a much more sharp, clear visual style and panel control. Dan Parsons’ inks bring a great clarity to those visuals, but there’s a certain graininess that has its place here in this kind of story. Gabe Eltaeb’s colors are always a welcome presence and always enhance whatever sci-fi tale, especially Star Wars ones, that they’re a part of and this issue is no exception. The colors are calm and muted, except when they need to be more bombastic and colorful, at which point they rise to the occasion.
The close-ups on this issue look great, but some of the panels showing distance, from somewhat close to far off, look less-than-stellar. Faces become warped and lose detail, action jumps from one moment to the next with some missed action in-between. It’s never terribly jarring, but it is sometimes noticeable.
We’re still not sure what, exactly, this “code” is or what it represents. We’re post-Death Star, so it’s obviously not that, but we’re veering into some very, very MacGuffin-y territory and it’s becoming hard to care passionately about something we know so little about.
I’m absolutely willing to stick with and recommend this story on the hope of what the “code” could be AND because the next issue features Chewie as its agent and, quite frankly, who can resist a nice Wookie spycraft story? NO ONE, THAT’S WHO! Beyond that, this is a great issue examining a less-seen side of the Star Wars saga and continuing to show the seemy underbelly in an interesting, dynamic way with a TON of story potential. It’s also very, very cool to see Leia on her own building on and adding to her well-deserved reputation across the genre.