– Spoiler Review –
The Poe Dameron series has been delivering good ol’ fashion adventure and excitement since 2016 and it has now been around long enough to get an (official, more on that in a bit) Annual #1! Series writer Charles Soule takes a break and Robbie Thompson steps in, along with Nik Virella and Jordan Boyd on the art team for an enjoyably fun issue that unfortunately retreads realizations Poe’s already made about his role in the Resistance.
Right from the start, Robbie Thompson provides readers plenty of reasons to believe he’ll not only deliver the action-adventure style they’ve come to expect from Soule’s work, but the humor as well, all of it from the charisma and charm of Poe that Robbie manages to write so well. Overall, Poe Dameron Annual #1 is a really fun adventure romp, especially as it focuses mainly on Poe and BB-8’s delightful chemistry and friendship, as they always find a way to get each other’s back. How they go from stranded in space together to on the run from First Order stormtroopers is a true joy to see unfold and had the issue simply been between them it would’ve been enough to make this a must read. I really loved how BB-8 is so damn modest that he doesn’t even take a compliment from Poe, where he tells the droid he’d been dead a long time ago without him, as we know full well Artoo would probably chirp something about thanks for finally noticing or Threepio would feign the modesty (don’t get me started on what Triple-Zero or BT-1 would do…yikes!). It highlights how different BB-8 is in terms of personality from the main two droid characters in the saga, but he has the same heart (wiring) as they do.
Not only does Thompson provide some great Beebee and Poe moments, how he writes Poe and General Leia Organa just as good, if not better. Some of their banter ends up being true highlights of the issue, especially when she just simply needs to arch an eyebrow or two and Poe understands exactly what she’s actually saying. As we’ve heard from both the Celebration Orlando panel and recent Vanity Fair article, Poe and Leia have some extended screen time together in The Last Jedi and if this is just a taste of what they’ll be like in the film, I cannot wait to see the late and great Carrie Fisher and Oscar Isaac act stuff like this out together.
As great as there moments here are, they are unfortunately part of the problem with Annual #1: Leia is hoping for Poe to learn the lesson that the Resistance is bigger than just him (and her)…something she already forced him to learn after grounding him in issue #14. Not only did #14 already cover this, but it did so with a loving tribute to Carrie that Soule managed to sneak in, so why we had to go over the same bit of character development is a bit weird. As important of a moment as this is for Poe, learning to be more of a leader, trying to understand where this issue fits in the main series’ timeline causes even more confusion…and essentially hopes Poe as amnesia to make it work. Annual #1 ends with Poe and BB-8 telling the Resistance they uncovered that their assumption of the First Order likely killing Terex was false and that he is, in fact, still alive (though they don’t know Phasma put implants on him, destroying his charismatic and out-going mannerism, much like what happened to Lando’s friend Lobot), so that means the issue has to take place after #13, but considering Poe is hurtling through space à la Speed in issue #15, it has to take place before then, which is a bit of a problem. Whether this takes place prior to Leia and Poe having their talk in #14 or after, Poe needs to have had amnesia for him to need to relearn this lesson. I could be reading this wrong and according to Matt Martin, Lucasfilm Story Group member whose focus is the comics, this issue actually takes place BEFORE #13 (mainly because there’s an A-wing aka L’ulo in one of the panels), so why it would be such a shock to Poe and the Resistance that Terex is alive doesn’t make much sense if that’s true (as they already know he’s alive…); plus the issues’ opening crawl places this after #13/L’ulo’s death so…help? Hopefully there’s some clarification here, but in the end, like I said, it is a good thing for Poe to learn to become more like a leader, it’s just been weirdly placed so close to an issue that already covers the same thing.
As for art, Nik Virella has a stylized Leia that works great for the needed facial gestures, while the rest of his and Jordan Boyd (colors) work for the issue is really solid work. It adds to the atmosphere of the issue’s action-adventure proceedings, keeping it fun and light much like the style it seems to be aiming for: 90’s action cartoons. I’d be more than happy to see these two return in the future, as they match the tone of this series expertly in only a single issue.
Here are a few other things:
- I’ve felt this way for awhile now but I feel that Poe Dameron #7 is this series’ first Annual, but lacks both the name and time requirements to be one. That issue broke off from everything that was going on and dealt with Poe on the run for his life with an old friend, a journalist named Suralinda Javos, who ends the issue joining up with the Resistance despite having set Poe up just to get an exciting story to tell. It had all the trappings of an annual but it wasn’t graced with such a title, so in my heart I consider this one to be technically a second Annual…but said opinion should have nothing to do with your enjoyment of this issue and it’s just been something I’ve been sitting on for awhile. As an aside, I’ve been dying for Suralinda to be in the series again, as she was a true breakout, and thankfully the solicitations for upcoming issues reveals she’ll be back.
Despite the questions coming from where Poe Dameron Annual #1 is placed, new writer Robbie Thompson and the art team of Nik Virella and Jordan Boyd manage not to disappoint, matching and equaling the main series for tone, excitement, and characterizations.
+ New creative team shines
+ Poe’s interactions with BB-8 and Leia
+ Action-adventure fun
– A little bit of a retread of issue #14 (and questionable placement…)
CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6) | The Gathering Storm (#7-13) | Legend Lost (#14-19)
The Screaming Citadel (crossover of Doctor Aphra and Star Wars on-goings)
The Last Padawan (#1-6) | First Blood (#7-12)
Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith
The Chosen One (#1-6)
Vader (#1-6) | Shadows and Secrets (#7-12) | The Shu-Torun War (#16-19) | End of Games (#20-25) | Annual: #1
Vader Down (crossover of Star Wars and Darth Vader on-goings)
Skywalker Strikes (#1-6) | Old Ben’s Journals | Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon (#8-12) | Rebel Jail (#16-19) | The Last Flight of the Harbinger (#21-25) | Yoda’s Secret War (#26-30) | Annual: #1 / #2
Darth Maul (mini-series)
Rogue One (adaptation)
Han Solo (mini-series)
Obi-Wan & Anakin (mini-series)
Shattered Empire (mini-series)
Princess Leia (mini-series)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (mini-series)