– Spoiler Review –
Poe Dameron #2 takes all the wit and charm of the first issue and amplifies it by 11…thanks to adding a new villain. Wait, what? Yes, you heard that right: Charles Soule and Phil Noto have brought to life Agent Terex of the First Order, a villain who is able to match Poe’s charms in the worst ways, making this series even more entertaining in the process.
I didn’t think any villain could quite match Poe, but Agent Terex surprisingly and thankfully does and it all starts with his introduction. What makes Terex’s introduction so ingenious is the way it mirrors Poe’s introduction at the start of issue #1: Both them come in hot and excited for adventure into the cavern, chatting up with their comrades (Poe with BB-8, Terex with the stormtroopers), see an obstacle, and charge right at it (Poe to squeeze through the closing blast doors, Terex blowing up now closed blast doors). Heck, their lines upon seeing the giant egg in the middle of the cavern’s chamber are nearly the same: Poe, after BB-8 beelps questioningly, “No, not what I was expecting either”/Terex: “Onward to–HMM. That is unexpected.” But like any reflection in the mirror, Terex is backwards of Poe, as he’s there for his own righteous cause to obtain information from Poe at all costs (even if it means destroying an egg he nor us readers understand just yet) while Poe is there for his own righteous cause to obtain information from the Creche…but without doing anyone innocent harm. They might share personality traits, like charming and confidant, but Terex funnels those skills towards causing fear and Poe uses them to rally more to his cause. If there weren’t two sides in a war to choose from, they’d probably be friendly rivalries, testing each other’s limits and making each other a better pilot and leader. But instead they’re adversaries, pushing each other’s limits and weaknesses to gain an advantage over the other. Dark foils of popular/recognizable characters has worked well for the Star Wars comics to date, specifically in Darth Vader with Triple-Zero and BT-1, and Dameron takes that to a whole different level by pitting Poe and Terex against one another throughout (instead of waiting for a crossover, like what’s been the case for the droids meeting Threepio and Artoo so far).
Terex’s history is one I’m interested to see covered, not only due to him owning the late Grand Moff Tarkin’s ship* and stocking it with Imperial trinkets, but because it seems he was part of the Empire and he’s got enough inside sources to know the name Starkiller (which kind of unnerves Phasma that he knows it when she’s calling him up with the mission to track down Poe Dameron). But it’s when Phasma tells him she warms him against failure, despite his boasting about his constant successes, because everyone in the FO knows where he came from, I definitely want to learn what possible responibilites he had in the Empire that he failed to protect (or whatever else he ended up failing back then). While he’s working for and assisting the First Order, he even outright says he hopes they can one day become the Empire again, as if he doesn’t quite like the FO but sees them as a means to an end to return the fallen government to its rightful power. As charming and intriguing as Terex is, it’s easy to remember he’s a villain because he seems to relish in having slaves and decides to fry up the egg for an omelet to get Poe to talk. But part of me likes him anyways, meaning I kind of wish he was a good guy, so if Soule, with Noto’s art, hoped they could bring a compelling villain to life, they certainly have.
As great as newcomer Terex is, Poe continues to shine here, while his pilots also get a good, fun little segment. L’ulo, a friend and squadmate of Poe’s late mother Shara Bey, says Poe’s a good commander because he gives them a vague order, about gaining leverage, which allows them to figure it out according to their situation. To think he has that much trust in his pilots and friends already reminds me of how quickly he trusts and befriends Finn at the start of The Force Awakens. Likewise, Commanders who allow their troops to think for themselves, while providing some slight direction, in turn gain loyal squadmates and can breed creativity amongst them to solve tougher problems. Simply put: If you didn’t already like the guy, here’s another reason to do so. At the same time, one could look at this actions and orders as reckless, which is why we end the issue with him being forced to either spill the beans on what information he stole from a FO-sympathizer in the New Republic Senate** or let Terex’s flametroopers melt the Creche’s Savior in it’s egg (and not gain the trust of the Creche to get more information on Lor San Tekka).
By the end of #1, I felt like this series would be a lot of fun, simply because Soule’s writing of Poe was so spot on with his charisma and confidence. If there’s one word that would sum up all my thoughts towards issue #2, it’s definitely going to be the word fun. From Terex’s back and forth with the Creche leader and Poe, to the rest of Black Squadron trying to make sense of Poe’s limited orders, the dialogue is quick and snappy, just like the entire issue’s pace. And much like Soule’s work on Lando, just when you think things couldn’t necessarily get worse for everyone, they do, making you wonder just how the heck Poe and Black Squadron will get out of this one alive (considering several of them for sure do as they are in TFA). The pace and sense of adventure keep you coming back for more, while Noto’s excellent art makes the series a visual treat befitting the fun story at hand. Seriously, as much as Soule’s writing sells Terex, Noto’s art truly breathes life into the character with entertaining expressions and mannerisms. My favorite page of the issue had to be the quick and uniquely laid out panels on the page where Black Squadron makes short work of the TIEs from the platform, as it looks like a target reticle.
Here are a few other things:
- *The Carrion Spike was once Grand Moff Tarkin’s personal ship, which was stolen by a small group of dissidents as seen in the novel Tarkin. It was named after a location on Tarkin’s home planet where his family sent their members to pass a crucible of sorts to become a worthy member of the clan. The ship’s design is based off a stealth ship prototype seen in The Clone Wars episode, “Cat and Mouse,” which is chronologically the first episode of the series. I’d like to learn the how and why Terex has the Carrion and hopefully this series might take the time to answer that.
- **While Phasma talks with Terex, she mentions that Poe is responsible for intercepting information from a First Order sympathetic New Republic Senator, which editor Jordan D. White mentions is from Before the Awakening, an enjoyable read for any fan of the new characters. The Senator is Ro-Kiintor, who is not only in BtA, but also has a brief appearance in the newly released Bloodline (my review will be up soon!).
- My nickname for this issue, before I even read it was: The Egg and The Order, which to me sounded like some forgotten sequel/part of The Once and Future King series.
- At this point, even if Soule was announced to be writing a Jar-Jar Binks miniseries, I’d be excited for it.
After Poe Dameron #2, I will not hesitate to proclaim this series is shaping up to be a real joy to read each week, making it a must-read for fans of Poe and starfighter stories.
+ Agent Terex
+ Poe’s trust in his squad (which kind of backfires)
+ Egg-plosive pace (not sorry for the pun)
CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
Black Squadron: #1 | #3 | Lockdown (#4-6) | The Gathering Storm (#7-10)
The Last Padawan (#1-6) | First Blood (#7-12)
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)
Han Solo (mini-series)
Obi-Wan & Anakin (mini-series)
Shattered Empire (mini-series)
Princess Leia (mini-series)