– Spoiler Review –
Poe Dameron #4 slows the series down a bit, letting readers and Poe’s Black Squadron take a break before the action begins anew. This issue starts a new arc, “Lockdown,” where Poe and crew find themselves in even more hot water than their last mission as they continue their attempt to track down Lor San Tekka by visiting a Jedi-artifact collecting Hutt in a very dangerous prison.
The first three issues of the Poe Dameron series showed how it can deliver engaging action and fun character moments, but it didn’t give its characters much of a chance to breathe and think about things beyond the battle at hand. Now that Poe and Black Squadron are out of their mess with the First Order and those Kaijū like creatures, they get a chance to retire to the Resistance’s base on D’Qar for some much needed R&R before the next mission on their hunt for Lor San Tekka, who they hope has information on Luke Skywalker’s whereabouts. While most of issue #4 is set-up for the rest of the arc, albeit entertaining and intriguing set-up I’m sure Charles Soule can deliver on, its real strength comes from the issue’s opening moments on D’Qar where we get some solid and much appreciated time with the rest of the Squadron: Temmin “Snap” Wexley, who was seemingly about to proclaim his love to Karé over the squad’s open channel in issue #3, can’t quite say the words back at the base, but Karé seems to take the hint and forces his hand, so to speak and Jess Pava chats with tech Oddy about using engine boosters they devised together out in the field against the TIEs. But the biggest conversation is the one between Poe and L’ulo, who has basically been another parent for Poe all his life. Poe confronts the Duros about his actions (in issue #2) against the First Order, where he antagonized the FO TIEs in an attempt to stop them from blocking the hole Poe had gone down to investigate their first lead on Lor. L’ulo knows it’s only a matter of time before they are in open war with the FO, not the cold war they’re stuck in, and he wants to take down as many as he can now so their fight is easier. Even though Poe admits L’ulo has a point, he also understands the delicacy situation they are in and how General Organa’s approach is the correct course of action, which he hammers home to L’ulo when he makes the somewhat prophetic statement, “…if we give them a reason to attack us before we’re ready, it won’t be one on one. It’ll be a hundred to one. A thousand.” I only say prophetic because that’s certainly how things are for the Resistance after the end of The Force Awakens: one against thousands. Overall, I enjoyed the time the issue took to build up and flesh out the relationships and other characters in the squad, helping to make them more than just different faces behind flight suits, something I hope to see more as the series continues.
Black Squadron’s next mission takes them to Megalox Beta, home to a private prison owned by Warden Luta, who runs it with the express interest in ensuring her prisoners don’t escape and that she makes money. The first part she accomplishes not only by setting the prison up on a planet who’s gravity is 10x the standard, where wandering out of the enclosed grav-field results in nearly instantaneous and very painful death, but also by allowing the prisoners free reign of the dome. As for the second part about making money, it costs lots of money to even get access to the prison, let alone armed guards to accompany a person’s visit. Poe and the team are there to see Grakkus the Hutt, a character first introduced in Star Wars #9, who the Crèche name as Lor’s next visit after spending time with them. Black Squadron has access thanks to Leia paying their way in, and while everything seems to be going well, it all turns sideways once the Squad learns someone paid Luta enough for them to lose their armed escort to Grakkus’ section of the untamed prison grounds. Thanks to some quick thinking on Jess’ part, they manage to hold off a deadly welcoming party of prisoners and make their way to Grakkus’ lair, only to find things are even more difficult then they ever could’ve imagined: Agent Terex is already there and Grakkus will only talk about Lor’s visit to the first person to break him out of jail. As Terex puts it, “May the worst man win.” No matter who wins, this sounds like another fun adventure romp I can’t wait to read about!
Ever since Grakkus the Hutt was revealed to be on the cover of Poe #4 in Marvel’s July solicitations, I’ve been eager to learn how the Hutt who punched Luke Skywalker out cold on Nar Shaddaa has been since he was last seen being taken away by the Empire to prison (in Star Wars #12). His reappearance here, some nearly 30 years after his run-in with Luke, is both surprising but makes sense, considering he is a collector of Jedi artifacts, something that would certainly have interested Luke, as well as Lor San Tekka, as he tries to start his new Jedi Order. While this issue doesn’t answer the question of whether Luke met with Grakkus since they parted ways on Nar Shaddaa, as Luke would certainly be interested in exploring the Hutt’s collection of Jedi Holocrons again now that he’s a Jedi. However, Darth Vader did confiscate it all at the end of Star Wars #12 when the Empire captured Grakkus, an one panel shows the Dark Lord crushing one of the holocrons so who knows if any of it survived his wrath. But Grakkus was hunting Jedi artifacts down long before that, so it’s possible he still has knowledge to pass on to Luke and Lor San Tekka, something we’ll learn the answer to soon enough I imagine. While Grakkus is still as shrewd and excited to play games as ever, I was a little sadden to see he won’t be up to impressive Hutt displays of agility and strength anymore, as aging hasn’t done him much good, shown wonderfully by Phil Noto’s art giving the Hutt a drooping eye and much bigger metallic legs now that he’s gotten bigger since we saw him last. It was really neat to see Grakkus appear here and I’d love to see more characters find their way across various comics (novels, TV shows, and movies) as time goes on.
Since his introduction in issue #2, I’ve really enjoyed the confident and cocky Agent Terex, who’s backstory has remained a giant but compelling question mark. Captain Phasma makes a snide remark about some past failure of his, he currently owns Grand Moff Tarkin’s old ship (the Carrion Spike), and now he learn he used to know Grakkus back in the day when he went more simply by Terex. Here’s hoping we get a little more information on him now that Grakkus is around to chat about the past.
Considering the fast paced nature of the first three issues, I’m not surprised the series hasn’t spent much time on the curious case of the tracking device put on Poe’s X-wing before issue #1. But #4 brings it back up again, as BB-8 asks Poe if he really trusts everyone in the Squad. Poe vouches for his people and tells BB-8 that Leia has Threepio using his droid network to look into it, but it seems whomever placed the tracker also tipped off Agent Terex about Poe’s trip to the prison. It’s not going to be Jess, Temmin, or likely L’ulo, so that leaves Karé and Oddy by default. The mystery of this mole is intriguing in and of itself, but considering it’s not until the events of TFA when the FO learns about the Resistance’s base on D’Qar (Hux explains they learn its location after tracking Leia’s shuttle from Takodana), why and how does this mole not end up sharing the information with the FO? With Terex? Or Terex with the FO for that matter? Consider this mystery the one I’m most eagerly anticipating to be answered.
Here are a few other things:
- I really like how the cover set me up to expect Grakkus stuck behind a way more strict prison and Poe having easy access to him, but I should’ve known better.
- Grakkus seems to be building up a collection again and part of me wonders if that rancor head was from the one Luke killed at Jabba’s Palace…
- It’s weird for #4 to be a new arc, despite still being part of “Book I” of the Poe Dameron series (none of the series so far has operated in such a way), but seeing as we’ve changed locations and have a new problem to solve to gain more Lor information, it makes sense.
- If Black Squadron’s missions all have a mix of ground and air/space action to them, this is certainly beginning to feel like the Sequel Trilogy/canon’s version of Wraith Squadron.
Poe Dameron #4 might have to spend its time setting us up for a new adventure, but it’s one that looks to be just as fun and entertaining as the last. Keep the fun coming, Charles Soule and Phil Noto!
+ Spending more time with the Squad
+ Grakkus’ mission for Terex and Poe
+ Lots of potential fun ahead
CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
Black Squadron: #1 | #2 | #3 | Lockdown: #5 | #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)