Star Wars: Forces of Destiny is a five-part comic series published by IDW Publishing. A new issue has been released every Wednesday in January 2018, concluding with part five today. Each issue features one or two prominent female characters from across the Star Wars universe including Leia, Rey, Hera, Padme, Ahsoka, Rose, and Paige, and every issue sees the ladies developing into ever more rounded characters. Join me for a look at all five issues in the series.
Star Wars: Forces of Destiny #1 – Leia
Leia’s story, which kicks off the series, is set on Hoth just prior to the opening of The Empire Strikes Back. In it, Leia struggles with many frustrations, from her fear of letting down the rebels she is trying to lead to the more practical difficulties she faces in learning how to ride a tauntaun. The rebel base has been left defenseless after a generator malfunction causes the shield to fail, and it is up to Leia to lead a scavenger mission to locate a crashed ship which she hopes will provide them with replacement parts to fix the damage.
Through the story, we see Leia’s fear of failure and her exhaustion from years of struggle against the Empire, but we also see her endless resilience, sense of humor, and catch glimpses of the inspiring leader she will become by the time of The Last Jedi.
This book does have a potential minor spoiler for the end of Star Wars: Rebels because it proves that a certain character will survive the end of the show. If you want to avoid any spoilers, you might want to hold off reading this issue until the finale airs on March 5th.
Favorite line: “How many times can you fall before considering not getting back up?”
Star Wars: Forces of Destiny #2 – Rey
Issue two is Rey’s story and takes place on Jakku during The Force Awakens between Rey discovering BB-8 in the desert and meeting Finn at Niima Outpost. In it, we gain an insight into Rey’s life on Jakku and her intense loneliness, which has led her to develop a strong compassion for the other creatures that dwell in the desert, no matter how monstrous they may seem.
In the story, Rey helps save BB-8 from a nightwatcher – a giant junk-eating creature that lives below the sand and whose eyes are spotted briefly in the film. He also joins her on a scavenging trip, which turns dangerous when Teedo and some thugs try to steal him. We get to see how Rey’s hard life has forced her to become clever and how her exhaustive knowledge of the desert around her, and those that dwell within it, helps her to survive. Yet for all the difficulties she faces on a daily basis and the trauma of her past, Rey has maintained a positive, friendly outlook and is willing to help those in need.
Favorite line: “It may look like a monster, but the nightwatcher is just trying to get by.”
Star Wars: Forces of Destiny #3 – Hera
Hera’s story is set during the Star Wars Rebels era, placing it between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. In it, Hera and Chopper visit a farming outpost on Fekunda that has just been taken over by the Imperials who want to use the resources there to feed their troops, just as Hera hoped the outpost would be able to help feed the rebellion. Instead of a simple mission to gain new allies, Hera finds herself teaching the locals how to fight the Empire themselves in a number of subtle ways.
In this story, we learn through Hera that defeating the Empire isn’t always about charging headlong into battle. She explains how to use sabotage, cunning, and trickery to persuade the Empire that they want to leave, instead of fighting them off head-on, which is likely to make them simply return later on with more resources. She teaches the people of Fekunda to use what they have to their own advantage but also about leadership and the real personal costs of fighting a war, and in doing so we see that there is more to leadership than simply leading the cavalry into battle.
Favorite line: “Even when you’re hurt, or scared, or running out of hope. You just keep doing the next thing that needs to be done.”
Star Wars: Forces of Destiny #4 – Padme and Ahsoka
Issue four is shared by Padme and Ahsoka and is set during the Clone Wars. In this story, Padme plans a dinner party for a group of delegates from Arthuria who are considering joining the Republic. With Anakin away on a mission, Padme calls on Ahsoka to help provide additional security for the party; however, Ahsoka is experiencing a personal crisis of belief after a training session with Barriss and doesn’t believe she is good enough to do the job.
This issue deals with feelings of inadequacy and overcoming those feelings to have confidence in your own abilities, even if the way you use them is different from how others believe you should. It also shows us that even though Ahsoka may doubt her abilities, Padme believes in her and is willing to put her trust of Ahsoka where it counts by personally requesting her help. This trust is well-placed because it is Ahsoka who spots a small detail that reveals the threat everyone else missed.
I would have liked to see more from Padme in this issue because while she is a prominent character, this was very much Ahsoka’s story and her lesson to learn. However, it’s great to see a story where these two characters interact without interference from Anakin, allowing them to build their own friendship.
Favorite line: “Is that enough though? I want to help, but am I good enough?”
Star Wars: Forces of Destiny #5 – Rose and Paige
The final issue of Star Wars: Forces of Destiny is about Rose and Paige, the sisters we were first introduced to in The Last Jedi. This story is set on D’Qar shortly after the Resistance arrives there. Resources are scarce and General Leia needs ideas on how to scout the jungles for anything they can use without wasting precious time and fuel. Rose has an unconventional idea that is laughed down by some, but Leia is interested and persuades Rose to see what she can do, leading the sisters to their own personal jungle adventure where they meet a new and adorable Star Wars universe critter, the squonk!
The moral of this story is probably the most overt of all. It encourages you to believe in yourself, even when others are dismissive of your ideas. There’s also a very cool STEM element here with Rose repeatedly using whatever she can get her hands on to solve problems for the Resistance by using her skills as a mechanic. It’s an important message that while the Resistance does indeed need heroes like Luke and Poe to fly their ships and fight their battles, it also relies on people who can think, create, and solve problems on their feet in the background. The story also comes back to one of Leia’s messages in The Last Jedi, the message that failure is in itself valuable – a message that can be found throughout this whole series.
Favorite line: “People who taste victory have failed more than anyone else.”
Star Wars: Forces of Destiny is a brilliant series that celebrates women. It shows us women in positions of leadership, women taking control of their lives, and their destinies, and women using their creativity, imagination, and intelligence to improve their lives and the lives of others. Importantly, the stories also allow them to have weaknesses and vulnerabilities instead of being caricatures of the “strong, independent women” trope. They worry about their abilities, have nightmares, and doubt themselves, just like we do. There are messages and lessons to take away from every issue, yet none of them feel contrived; instead, they feel like a natural part of the stories these women have to tell us.
These are the stories I would have gone mad for as a young girl, and I’m so grateful that the girls and women growing up with Star Wars today now get to read them. I hope we get to see more from Star Wars: Forces of Destiny in the future, with issues dedicated to other female characters like Jyn Erso, Mon Mothma, Maz Kanata, and Admiral Holdo. For now, I know I’ll be re-reading these regularly.
Star Wars: Forces of Destiny issues 1 to 5 are available now. A collected edition of all five issues will be published in April.
GeekMom received these items for review purposes.