Too small,I wouldn't go so far as to say that Leia is 'on the sidelines' in episode IV. She isnt with the rest of the characters, sure, but she has that whole face-off with Vader and no-dont-blow-up-my-planet moments. It seems like there would be plenty for Annie to be doing while the rest of the gang gallivant through Mos Eisley.
As for the most recent comic. My eyes grew to the size of saucers when I read it. Grrrraaaghhhhh DX ! But after the initial "WHAT?!" I decided that there was no way Ben was dead. That just seems way too dark (even if the comics have been getting a progressively more 'serious' feel). I agree with those people who think that it is just Sally being Sally. My money would be on the big blow out with dad / moved (farther?) away from home theory. I just hope that he will still be a regular member of the comic x'D . Basically, I have faith that it is going to turn around and be hilarious in the long run.
BEFORE yesterday's comic my 'crack theory' was that Jim would come in as Luke. My reasoning was that Ben wasnt in the comic yet, and presumably once he got back he would take up as Obi-Wan again, rather than make a new character. Jim said he wanted to make a character with a detailed background, and making his own character's son would certainly qualify (although he may initially miss the whole 'Annie would be playing his sister' bit, after which hilarity would ensue XD ). Han would be the convenient-NPC-with-a-ship until Obi-Wan gotten dusted and Jim took him over. Cause, ya know, humorous mix-ups between IC and OOC x'D .
And there is still that little part of me that still ships Ben/Annie from way back in Episode I.
Fuuuuuuuuuuuu, I talked a lot x'D . But I wanted to say that for a while now! Rambling over.
Also, Ben being gone... totally called that a few pages back.