In this edition, Leia and Evaan find themselves head to head with Alderaanians who don’t necessarily want rescuing – further complicating any stereotypes of mourning. The introduction of The Preserver and her followers adds wonderful breadth to the tension. Plus, it means there are, like, 3 bad guys for Leia to fight which is totally badass.
Leia and Evaan continue to bond while also not compromising on their strongly held beliefs (a.k.a. continuing to strongly dislike one another). We see their disagreement put into perspective against this grizzled group of Alderaanians on an even more vastly different page than our two main characters – though, ultimately, still from the same book - their lost culture and missing family still forefront on all of their minds, informing all of their actions. It’s like a psychological study in personality and loss to see how each character acts out their pain, their background, and their heritage.
The beauty of this series continues to be its emotional complexity. Right when you think you know where the story is going, it changes gears just slightly. It bucks trends without neglecting the crucial building blocks that compose and hold up entertaining narratives. I love how Mark Waid commits to culling from deep, emotional truths, giving each character such unique emotional worlds while not overcompensating in any one area. This story is told with wonderful balance.
This book has some fantastic action, as well. There is an all-out brawl involving storm troopers and a new species of celestial beast that R2-D2 learns to herd. It all culminates in the hunt for a mole within the party of Alderaanians Leia has already rescued. Phew.
I may not have gotten my backstory on Evaan in this edition, but with so much else going on and such good storytelling, I’m more than happy to wait.