In The Last Jedi, the Resistance unceremoniously lost Admiral Gial Ackbar and the rest of the crew on the bridge shortly after the Battle of D’Qar, as a First Order attack destroyed the bridge of the Raddus.
It was a tragic ending for the hero of the Rebellion, but the Resistance had to keep moving. General Leia Organa, the glue who held the Resistance together, was unconscious after getting blown out of the bridge as well. The First Order was in pursuit. And the Resistance would eventually just barely escape from their enemy on Crait, thanks to the heroics of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker and Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo.
But once the dust settled and the Resistance began their rebuilding efforts, Leia took the time to mourn her friend.
In the current Star Wars: Allegiance comic (written by Ethan Sacks and drawn by Luke Ross), we see Leia take Rey, Rose, Chewbacca, and C-3PO to Mon Cala to visit old friends. But when she arrives, she is greeted by angry soldiers who want to kill her. Aftab Ackbar soon arrives, however, persuading the soldiers to back down. Aftab embraces Leia in a hug, and the two of them spend time mourning Gial Ackbar and celebrating his memory.
Aftab is, of course, the son of Gial, and Leia comments on how much Aftab has grown since the last time she saw him. He asks what brings Leia to Mon Cala, and she responds, “I came to honor your father.”
Leia dons a suit that allows her to breathe underwater, and she travels with Aftab underwater to The Mourning Shrines of Mon Cala, mourning the death of Gial Ackbar. Leia tells Aftab that his father would be proud of him, but Aftab shares that his father had seen him maybe once since his “spawning”, since he had other aras of focus. “But I knew him,” Aftab adds. “I studied every battle — every victory.” Leia reminisces on the moment of Gial’s death, saying that he “was a hero until the very end”, and expresses regret that she couldn’t bring his body back home. Aftab says that his father’s soul is very much there, even though his body is not.
We’re only halfway through this four-issue series (one that has been pretty underwhelming so far), but so far the Mon Cala have not been willing to support General Organa or her Resistance (I’m guessing that will change by the end). That has a lot to do with her family lineage, but Aftab is friendly and welcoming to his father’s longtime friend.
I do think it’s a really cool touch to show Leia returning to Mon Cala to mourn the death of Admiral Ackbar, and it’s even better that this takes place alongside his son. It’s pretty sad that Aftab didn’t really know his father personally due to Gial’s other areas of focus (which, while certainly not as extreme, is kinda a similar situation to Ben Solo), but Aftab still seems to have a lot of admiration and respect for his father, as he is a student of his father’s career. It’s cool to see the legacy of Gial Ackbar continue, and I’m guessing that Aftab will wind up joining the Resistance and carrying on that legacy even further.
But one of the reasons I really like this moment is that it gives these characters a chance to breathe and actually mourn. That’s something that A New Hope didn’t afford to Leia at all after the destruction of her homeworld and her family, and that has been something of a trend in Star Wars material (with a notable exception being Star Wars Rebels dealing with the loss of Kanan Jarrus). And in this case, I don’t think TLJ should have devoted more time to mourning Ackbar, because it wouldn’t have fit. The primary focus at the moment was on making sure Leia was ok (as she is more significant both in the Star Wars universe and in ours to the story), and also on simply staying alive as they fled the First Order. There was no time for their sorrows as they tried just to stay alive.
But now, with the First Order temporarily off their backs, Leia takes the time to grieve the loss of her friend. She has lost so much in such a short span: her husband, her brother, longtime friends and key leaders Gial Ackbar and Amilyn Holdo, many soldiers, and nearly her life… and that’s all on top of the lifetime of loss that included her parents and family on Alderaan, her son (to the dark side), her political career, etc. Leia has such an incredible resolve in the midst of unimaginable loss, but even she needs a chance to honor and pay respects to a fellow hero of the Rebellion, Admiral Gial Ackbar.