– Spoiler Review –
Black Squadron’s mission to Megalox Beta prison comes to an enjoyable sci-fi adventure ending the Poe Dameron series is already quite known for in issue #6.
Even with the odds stacked against them, our heroes manage to come away on top, though lingering questions about a mole and the now very personal vendetta from an unpredictable villain mean they aren’t out of the gravity well yet (so to speak). Besieged by a prison riot instigated by First Order Agent Terex and Grakkus the Hutt’s crime boss rivals, Poe and Black Squadron desperately fight as long as they can while their fates lie in the various attachments of BB-8. The roundest astromech we know has some problems of his own: the biggest, flamethrower-wielding security droid I’ve ever seen. In a series of snazzy and entertainingly drawn panels, quick cutting between the action on the ground and Beebee-Ate’s fight (and building a true sense of action by doing so), the plucky astromech fells the giant security droid with a shocking headshot, the remaining astromech’s hack the rest of the controls, and Black Squadron dons their gravity shields as the droids disable the artificial gravity. Everyone is essentially pinned to the ground due to the planet’s gravity being 10x greater than the standard (and all slowly dying I might add), while Poe plays to Warden Luta’s weaknesses and secures Grakkus’ freedom (and Black Squadron’s). Agent Terex has a trick up his sleeve though: the Carrion Spike and his anger-driven vengeance, as he smashes his ship through the prison’s command center and starts to destroy the prison’s fleeing escape pods. Black Squadron forces Terex to flee, thus getting the information about Lor San Tekka’s next stops from Grakkus, but the two big problems remain: the mole within the Resistance still exists and Terex takes the embarrassment he’s just been handed very personally. Look for those two things to be handled as the series continues.
Terex has been an entertaining villain you can’t just help to love to hate, but some of his charm and slick veneer slips away in issue #6, making him even more interesting than before. Since his introduction, it hasn’t seemed like much could faze the charm and confidence Terex presents to the world, but as his failures become compounded by the end of the issue (he doesn’t get Grakkus’ information, his ship is heavily damaged, the First Order is pulling him back for disciplinary action), the cracks begin to show. While it’s also been apparent from the start Terex has a shady past during the time between him being a stormtrooper and then a security agent for the First Order thirty years later, he’s never really carried himself like a common criminal until now. He’s acted like one, from time to time that’s for sure, but now he’s showing his true colors and honestly it makes him even more interesting to me. How did this darker, less controlled version of Terex come to be? What helped him build but his walls made of ego, confidence, and charm? Because the Terex we first met seemingly wouldn’t have rammed his ship into a prison command center and begin to attack defenseless escape pods simply due to experiencing a petty emotion like anger, searching for a way to enact retribution for being thwarted at his own game. But unlike weaker enemies, he doesn’t turn tail and scamper away, nor does he heed the summons of his masters. Phil Noto is an excellent artist for many things, but the look on Terex’s face when he finally gives the order to flee an attack by Black Squadron says everything about Terex at the moment in one simple panel: angry, embarrassed, determined to have his vengeance for the slight to his reputation, and willing to have died trying to take out Poe and Black Squadron. Soule might be writing a great villain here, but Terex just wouldn’t be the same without Noto’s art.
Did you love Beebee-Ate in The Force Awakens? Have you enjoyed his appearances in this series so far? Then be ready to love this little ball of attitude and determination a whole lot more after this issue. While Black Squadron manages to hold their own on the ground, the vital part of the mission lies completely in the multi-tools of the astromechs. Without Beebee-Ate to battle the hulking war machine of a security droid (who hilarious makes the come hither hand motion seen in nearly every battle in The Martix Trilogy), the mission would’ve been a complete failure and Black Squadron would likely be dead, Terex would be the one visiting Lor San Tekka on Jakku and whoops there goes the whole sequel trilogy. Alright, maybe it wouldn’t have been that extreme if the droids failed, but it certainly wouldn’t have been good for anyone if they had. Their success and control over the facility allows Poe to make a clean getaway with Grakkus and the information they need, while ensuring a mostly peaceful and harmless resolution to the whole situation (before Terex gets all angry and destructive). The best part about Beebee-Ate’s heroics is not that he accomplishes them, but that Poe doesn’t let them go unnoticed. The connection Poe and Beebee-Ate have in TFA has been very apparent in this series so far and this is the strongest indication of that bond yet, as not only did he put the entire mission in the droid’s hands, but he thanks the little guy just like he would one of his non-robot teammates.
The panel that really shows how well Soule and Noto get Poe as a character comes shortly after the droids gain control of the prison command center, where he’s explaining to Warden Luta just how things are going to go now he’s in charge. Noto manages to capture what Oscar Issac’s/Poe’s face would look like when experiencing the joy of a good plan coming together, while Soule hits the dialogue just right when Poe basically calls out Luta for her collusion with Terex, ignores her indignant sputtering, and offers her a no-nonsense deal for them all to part ways peacefully because he’s just that awesome of a guy. Just like this series has been with Beebee-Ate, so too does it give you even more reasons to like Poe as a character. With the issue focusing on the action and resolution of the arc, we unfortunately didn’t get to spend too much time with the other pilots, but they all get their fair share of moments. When the team returns to D’Qar to inform Leia about the locations Grakkus revealed regarding the next steps of Lor San Tekka’s journey (more on those below), she decides to pause the mission to focus on a way more important one: finding out the mole’s identity, as they leaked the information about Megalox Beta to Terex so that he could have a head start on the Resistance. What interests me most about this mole is the First Order doesn’t know about D’Qar and the Resistance’s base there until the events of The Force Awakens (due to them tracking Snap’s ship after he makes a recon flight of Starkiller base), so why does this mole only leak the details on their mission to find Lor San Tekka and not the Resistance’s location? Hopefully we’ll find out soon enough!
Here are a few other things:
- Curious about the two planets Leia reads from Grakkus’ list? Well, Arthon has a Wookieepedia page, but it seems like the planet wasn’t used at all by Legends. Mayhaps we’ll be seeing it soon? As for Hosra, it’s got quite an interesting, but short history: original to canon, Hosra is part of the Star Wars: Uprising mobile game, which is about an Imperial warlord blockading the entire Anoat sector post-Battle of Endor to try to keep Imperial control. Hosra is notable for Lor San Tekka’s trek because the ruling council of the Anoat sector was helped by Force-sensitives tied to an unnamed ancient Force-based order. With that Force-related detail in mind, I’ll place my bets on us seeing Hosra over Arthon.
- With the prison in tatters after the events in the issue, I wonder if we’ll see Isin, Kan Be, and Papa Toren (the three criminal bosses) in the series again. They all have a rancor to pick with Terex after he leaves them for dead here, while Toren might have a reason to go after Black Squadron due to one of his little flying translator buddies dying when the gravity field was shut off.
- I do believe this was the first time we’ve seen personal shields (Black Squadron’s gravity belts emit one) on characters in canon, something I first saw in Star Wars in the Legends video game series Knights of the Old Republic.
- That droid that rolls out of the Spike to pick up Terex and bring him into the ship’s gravity field certainly looked like an homage to WALL-E.
- An early solicitation for Poe Dameron issue #7 has since been changed and made the series’ eighth issue. As for #7, as Charles Soule mentioned in a recent interview, it’ll be a one-off about Poe and an reporter from his past. Can’t wait to see what that’s all about (and if it ties into the mole story)!
Thus far Charles Soule and Phil Noto’s Poe Dameron might have some shorter arcs to tell, but damn if they haven’t been some of the more entertaining and consistently action-packed fun to be had in Star Wars comics; Issue #6 is no different and might just be the best of the series yet.
+ BB-8 is all you need (to save the day)
+ Terex’s feud with Poe is being taken to whole new level of personal
+ Charles Soule and Phil Noto run a tight and enjoyable ship
CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
Black Squadron: #1 | #2 | #3 | Lockdown: #4 | #5 | 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)