WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Poe Dameron #26 & The Last Jedi
Star: Wars Episode IX is more than a year away, but Marvel's Poe Dameron comic might already be setting up the departure of General Leia Organa. Star Wars: The Last Jedi left Leia as the only one of the three human heroes of the original trilogy left alive. But with Carrie Fisher's untimely death, fans knew that General Leia's role in Episode IX would need to bring her part in the story to a close.
When The Last Jedi saw Leia's bridge crew killed in a direct hit, ejecting everyone out into space, many assumed that the filmmakers had seen no way around removing Leia from the film. Instead, Leia used the Force to return to life and safety. That left the original question to be answered - but it seems Leia might not be completely out of the woods. At least not according to the latest issue of the Poe Dameron comic series.
After delving into Poe's past before The Force Awakens, Marvel's comic series has finally caught up to the movies. The current arc, which began in Poe Dameron #26 fills in some story beats by showing what happened after The Last Jedi and during The Force Awakens. After surviving the Battle of Crait, Poe is recounting to Rey and Finn some of the films' events from his point of view. The focus of the issue (and series) is on Poe... but this issue begins with General Leia.
More is shown than told, as Leia sits next to Chewbacca, seemingly sensing "echoes" of the past likely through use of The Force. It's a heartbreaking moment of Force vision and flashback as Leia remembers Han sitting in the pilot's seat in their younger years. It's clear that the heavy losses that Leia has suffered weigh on her mind after the events of Last Jedi, even if she dismisses them to reassure Chewbacca (who is also dealing with the loss of her husband and brother). But the sccene can also be read as foreshadowing that Leia will be joining them in the afterlife sooner, rather than later.
Leia is noticeably weaker in Poe Dameron #27 than she was at the close of The Last Jedi, or the comics set at the same time. In the film, Leia's recovery from the time she spent in the vacuum of space seemed downright miraculous. The comic reveals that Leia may be hiding the real toll, and even plants the first seeds of more serious (and fatal) side-effects. Soon, Leia walks to the interior of the Falcon (leaning on the doorway as she departs) to find Poe, Rey, and Finn sharing their action reports. Leia explains that she needs to rest as she's "still not a hundred percent," and that Poe and her must have a conversation soon.
All of this is a pretty direct continuation of the events of Last Jedi, and Leia's continuing mission to help teach Poe Dameron to lead the Rebels. Given Leia's weakened state in the comic, it seems even more obvious that she will end up passing the torch to Poe as leader of The Resistance at some point in the near future. The only real question is if that passing will come with Leia's retirement, or her death.
Episode IX is going to have to do some heavy rewriting when comes to Leia, no matter the solution arrived at. In hindsight, Leia's space flight was never intended to be more than a powerful demonstration of her own Force powers, with no plan to remove her from the next chapter. If anything, The Last Jedi sets the stage for Leia's Force abilities to become more important than ever to the events of Episode IX. Yet using the events of Last Jedi to write Leia out of the franchise might be the best possible move for Star Wars. Starting that story in the pages of Poe Dameron not only encourages fans to seek out these stories, but allows Star Wars to use Leia in a way that doesn't require Carrie Fisher.
Leia's character has so far been defined by her fight, operating on the offensive ever since she was introduced. Having joined the Rebellion at a very young age, and spent almost her entire life trying to make the galaxy a better place, there will have to be a very good reason for Leia not leading the charge any further (besides the tragedy of Carrie Fisher's passing). We would wager that fans might prefer Leia succumbing to the true cost of her time in space, or stepping away as her strength fades. Especially if the alternative is an off-screen death or a different mission during Episode IX.
The hints of Leia's condition in Poe Dameron #27 could amount to nothing. Leia's weakness could be nothing more than understandable weariness for a woman who lost far too much in her life. Yet given the series' commitment to exploring the events after The Last Jedi, it should be interesting to see what, if anything, Poe Dameron reveals about Leia's status in Star Wars: Episode IX.
Poe Dameron #27 is available now from Marvel Comics
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