Carrie Fisher passed away late last year, but for Star Wars fans around the world the emotions surrounding her death are still very raw. This week brings another moving tribute to the legendary actress in the form of a comic book.
Marvel’s Star Wars: Poe Dameron series is among the very best of a new crop of comics set in a galaxy far, far away. It tells the story of the mission to find Lor San Tekka, a famous explorer who, in the opening scene of The Force Awakens, hands over data revealing Luke Skywalker’s location. It follows Marvel’s Shattered Empire series, which did a lot of heavy lifting to set up Dameron as the son of two famous Rebellion warriors, and adds a rich backstory for the galaxy’s best starfighter pilot.
But in this week’s issue 14, it’s General Leia Organa who takes center stage.
The beautiful issue, illustrated by artist Angel Unzueta and colorist Arif Prianto, celebrates the life of Dameron’s friend and comrade L’ulo L’ampar, who was shot down in combat the previous issue. But from Phil Noto’s cover itself to the very last page, it’s obvious who we readers are actually here to mourn.
After L’ulo’s service, where the members of his squadron gathered around an empty casket, Dameron withdraws. The big blue alien was more than just a friend, and actually helped to raise him as a child. But instead of coddling Dameron, Leia takes the opportunity to teach him a lesson about the fragility of the Resistance itself.
The emotional climax snuck up on me during a quiet moment inside Leia’s office. Writer Charles Soule has the general make a nod to how Jedi vanish upon death and, in so doing, she also speaks to the permanence of Carrie Fisher herself in the Star Wars fandom.
“The truth is,” Leia says, “I can’t let all of this rest on my shoulders forever. ... The Rebellion went on for decades, and I’m sorry to say, probably sooner than we’d like, I’ll be luminous.”
Personally, I’ve never been a comics guy. Up until a few years ago I didn’t even know where my local comic shop was, and the concept of a serialized periodical that I had to purchase on a monthly basis seemed, frankly, like a silly idea. But I think that with this issue I’m beginning to understand some of the deeper, meta-textual work that artists and writers can do with the medium.
The whole Poe Dameron series so far has been an exceptional ride, and I highly recommend it. The first volume is available now in paperback.