– Spoiler Review –
The exciting, adventurous series Poe Dameron returns with issue #5, written by Charles Soule with art by Phil Noto, and things really get off to the races in an action-packed, fun issue that ends with cliffhangers that’ll make the wait for #6 that much longer.
The race to free Grakkus the Hutt, and the get information he holds on Lor San Tekka’s next stop, has begun! Agent Terex and Poe Dameron both have their own plans to get Grakkus’ information first and each plan highlights how they are so alike, but couldn’t be more different. Terex, still angry over Grakkus allowing Poe a chance to get the information, promises three prominent criminals in the Megalox prison that he’ll not only allow them a chance to kill Grakkus, but he’ll also help them escape. Needless to say, seeing as he seems to owe all three of them, they eagerly take him up on his offer and help start a riot to finally break down Grakkus’ walls and end the Hutt’s reign of Megalox. While I believe Terex will make true on his promise to help them get Grakkus and kill the Hutt, I highly doubt he’ll follow through on helping the other crime bosses escape. He’s just that type of guy, which is why he’s so much fun as a character. Terex can be as charming as Poe, but he’s ruthless and overly confident, though both traits look to be his advantage while they’re all in the Megalox prison. Issue #5 teases different aspects of Terex’s backstory, not only by his discussion with the three crime bosses, but also when he walks confidently out into the swarm of deadly prisoners and they all bow to him or move out of his. Ever since it’s been revealed he wasn’t always working for the First Order, and in fact had been a stormtrooper all those years ago, how he went from Empire stooge to feared and respected by unsavory types is a story I’m eager to learn. He’s almost been as entertaining as Poe has been in this series, making him an excellent foil for the charming do-gooder.
While Snap Wexley got a bit of a highlight in #4 once the mission began, Dameron #5 gives more time to Kare Kun and even more to Jess Pava. Kun has a funny but short exchange with Terex, while Jess seems to have a problem with their plan. See, Poe and the rest of Black Squadron have an even more elaborate plan than Terex’s in mind, though it doesn’t involve nearly as much violence as his. One part of their plan is to patiently wait while the other part is hope to the Force that BB-8 and the other astromechs sabotage the base high above the planet (which is supplying the gravity field around Megalox, which would otherwise be crushed under the planet’s gravity without the shield). You get a good sense of what type of person Jess is, as she’s not being particularly impatient, but rather doesn’t like feeling she has no control over the outcome, whereas in a cockpit of an X-wing or with her finger on a gun’s trigger, it’s all on her. Poe shows why he’s a good leader, apologizing to her as he knows what she’s going through because he’s anxious to be back in control as well. And even as the riot breaches Grakkus’ prison, and the Hutt guards cower back into the next layer while leaving Black Squadron exposed, Poe has patience and plans on doing his best to survive, putting just as much trust and faith into BB-8 and the droids as he would his fellow pilots.
His trust seems to be misplaced though (for the moment), as things go from bad to worse for Beebee-Ate and the droids quickly. As Soule made good use of in the Lando series, he continues the practice of cliffhangers which put the heroes, especially heroes we know will survive, in increasingly dangerous and less likely to survive situations that make you eager to learn how they’ll somehow manage to make it out alive from. On the surface, Poe and Co. are without guns and stuck with makeshift weapons, surrounded by vicious prisoners while on the station Beebee-Ate is facing off against….the Iron Giant?!? Let me back up a moment: BB-8’s mission is to lead the other astromechs to do something with the security field generator, but as they attempt to hide from guards one of them malfunctions and a quick fight ensues. Of course the droids kick serious butt (Beebee-Ate even gives his trademark lighter thumbs up to the droid who defeats the guards, showing he’s as awesome a leader as Poe), but they soon find themselves outmatched when a giant security droid catches them in the act, squishing the astromech who earlier defeated the human guards. As much as I worry for Poe and Black Squadron on the surface, this issue’s final set of panels with Beebee-Ate defensively brandishing his lighter only for the security bot to laugh as he ignites his whole hand as a flamethrower, makes me WAY more worried for the lovable round astromech. Beebee-Ate seems completely outmatched, so I’m dying to see how he manages to come out on top against a droid he doesn’t even come up to the shins on. The droids’ whole mission here has a very D-Squad arc from The Clone Wars feel to it (an arc I’ve grown to enjoy since it first aired a few years ago), where Artoo-Detoo was part of the droid squad on a special mission for the Republic, and I hope this series continues to give Beebee-Ate more chances to have the spotlight.
Soule continues to provide an fun, adventurous tone to the proceedings while bringing his character work to the forefront, making everyone from the villains to the main characters a joy to read and get to know; He’s easily my favorite overall writer working on Star Wars comics at the moment. Likewise, Phil Noto’s art is detailed but succinct, while I love the little trick he used to make BB-8 appear to be rolling/in-motion. Together they make for an enjoyable one-two punch of creative goodness!
Here are a few other things:
- The crime bosses Terex chats with here include a Kaminoian named Kan Be, an Adozse named Isin, and Papa Toren! While it was interesting to see a Kaminoian outside of the prequel trilogy era, it was a true delight to see Papa Toren again. For those unaware, Toren was first seen in Lando #1 as someone the smooth-talking smuggler owed money too and set Lando off after the heist of a lifetime (which resulted in some serious repercussions for everyone involved). I really liked Toren’s look, but most importantly I was highly intrigued by his mini-minions who fly around him, delivering his whispers so that everyone can hear them. Looks like Toren ran into some problems of his own, if he ended up in Megalox. If you’re wondering why Toren might be in this series, Charles Soule wrote Lando as well.
- On Twitter, Soule revealed the droids accompanying BB-8 on his mission: R2-HA (the blue one who has some major fighting skills, but gets crushed in the end), O-R1ON (a purple Artoo with a weird dome), and R4.
- The planet where the weird but fun egg-centered storyline took place on wasn’t named until this issue: Ovanis
- I’m beginning to warm up to the 3-issue mini-arcs within each of the 6-issue meta-arcs style for this series. You consistently get a quick, but enjoyable set-up, followed by the action picking up, and a swift, but just as action-packed resolution.
- Curious to see what’s ahead for the Poe Dameron series? Charles Soule’s interview with ComicBookResources is full of hints and details about what’s to come, including a one-shot issue of Poe dealing with a reporter from his past and that issues 8-10’s spy story will uncover the secrets to Terex’s past. I highly suggest checking the whole thing out (it includes some pages from this issue).
Fun and adventure ramp up in Poe Dameron #5, as the race to learn Lor San Tekka’s next stop on his Jedi Odyssey is in full-swing, but things currently aren’t looking good for Poe, BB-8, and the rest of Black Squadron.
+ BB-8 and the droids on a mission
+ Terex’s connections and hints at his past
+ Literally no idea how they’ll (especially BB-8) manage to get out of this one!
CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
Black Squadron: #1 | #2 | #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)