Image Used Courtesy of Marvel Comics
From the beginning, Leia Organa has been a survivor. She is literally one of the last surviving inhabitants of Alderaan after Grand Moff Tarkin’s inhuman annihilation of the peaceful planet. Rather than giving in to the kind of devastating sadness that could only be comparable to tragically losing your whole family or other thing most important to you (a person’s metaphorical world), Leia keeps moving forward. She helps lead the escape from the Death Star, smiles as she celebrates and hands out medals to her peers, and goes on a mission with Evaan Verlaine to help unite the remnants of the Alderaanian people. When Han is frozen in carbonite, Leia devices and leads a rescue attempt. When her son is turned to the dark side of the Force by Snoke, Leia leads the Resistance and tries to get him back. No matter what emotional turmoil comes, Leia survives. Recent stories in the novels and comics have revealed a new facet of Leia’s ability to survive: her ability to scavenge and plan, so she can survive in dangerous physical environments.
In Claudia Gray’s extraordinary novel Leia: Princess of Alderaan, a young Leia seeks to prove herself worthy of secession to the throne of Alderaan by completing trials of the body, spirit, and mind. For her physical trial, she vows to climb the highest mountain on Alderaan. As the story progresses, Leia learns and hones skills necessary to survive by practicing in various dangerous environments. Leia almost meets death multiple times. She is nearly suffocated by a mudslide and almost falls to her death, but in each of these instances, she makes it through because she is able to use her incredible mind to use to devise ways to overcome.
All that would be enough to cause young galactic citizens to hang Rosie the Riveter style posters of Leia flexing her muscles with the phrase “We can do it!” above her, but she does something even more admirable. She helps others survive, too. She risks appearing weak in order to help friends who have sustained injuries on their trek. She risks her life to save a friend whose gear has broken. She risks her future and life to help others because that’s what a royalty does.
Recent issues of the main Star Wars comics have shown Leia continuing to use her survival skills even into the era of the Galactic Civil War. In Star Wars #33, Luke and Leia are stranded on a nearly deserted planet without food or water, but they are able to work together to obtain the materials needed to survive. Luke uses what Uncle Owen taught him as a moisture farmer to build moisture vaporators to get water, and Leia risks her life to come up with a plan to hunt an enormous shark creature in order to get them the food they need to keep their energy up. In Star Wars Annual #3, Leia saves Han’s life when he is injured by rummaging through the cupboards of the Millennium Falcon and using the mish mash of items she finds to cook up a plan to repel the scoundrels hunting the insufferable Solo. Through a cunning plan, Leia is able to rescue Han, not just from his pursuers but from his himself. As he nears death and seeks to settle his debts, she convinces him to keep going. Despite the numbing specter of Alderaan’s destruction, Leia never gives up; she just keeps going. She keeps her body and spirit alive because that’s what a leader does.
The era of Disney novels and Marvel comics have added more to Leia than any other character. While Luke and Han have experienced few to little changes to their characters, novels like Claudia Gray’s Star Wars: Bloodlines have allowed Leia to flaunt her deft diplomatic abilities while Leia: Princess of Alderaan and the comics have focused on her ability to overcome physical trials. Leia continues to not only survive but grow as a character. As we continue to get more and more stories of Leia on both the printed page and celluloid, one thing is guaranteed: Leia will survive. It’s what she does.
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