– Spoiler Review –
Poe takes a brief break from looking for Lor San Tekka and meets up with an old friend, now a reporter, with urgent news. Of course things get out of hand quickly, but that’s just the type of situation Poe seems to enjoy the most. Charles Soule continues as series writer, telling a rollicking adventure worthy of a few extra pages, while Angel Unzueta (artist) and Frank D’armata (colorist) mostly expertly step-in for Phil Noto in Poe Dameron #7, “The Gathering Storm.”
Poe meets up with former fellow New Republic Navy officer now Galaxy Beacon reporter Suralinda Javos for what he believes is a friendly social call. Their drinks are interrupted almost immediately and they find themselves running for their lives, which Sura says is her fault, getting into a chase that allows Poe to flex his piloting muscles in a stormsailer. Sura claims to not only know the First Order is militarizing themselves, but that they are building something big, though she’ll only tell General Organa Leia Organa about it in person. Losing the goons, they soon find themselves captured by the First Order themselves, but Sura breaks free and rescues Poe. Together they fly to D’Qar, the Resistance base, and we find out Sura is actually only trying to get the location of the base for a news story…until she has a change of heart after what she saw the First Order do firsthand while chasing her.
What I’ve really enjoyed this series for so far is how it might be named Poe Dameron, but it doesn’t just focus on him, giving us time with the other pilots in his squadron and the charismatically evil Agent Terex. As important as I believe the team focus is for the series, letting Poe take the spotlight this entire issue (though it was nearly stolen by Suralinda) really helped capture why he was such a breakout character from The Force Awakens in the first place. Poe’s at the top of his game this whole issue, from his joy at getting to take a stormsailer out for a spin for the first time despite the enemy pursuit, goading his captors, and his hilarious ability to answer questions without actually answer them. Charles Soule has already proven he has a solid handle on the character, but this issue really made it feel like Poe from TFA literally jumped out of the screen and into the pages of this comic.
As much as Poe was in rare form this issue, Suralinda Javos was the true highlight. Very quickly we pick up on the sense of history between Sura and Poe, thanks to Soule’s writing, giving her a sense of weight in the universe, while her striking character design makes her instantly memorable. Likewise, her ability to accurately deduct what Poe’s up to thanks to circumstantial evidence really makes her position as a journalist seem like the perfect job for her. Resourceful, smart, and secretly dangerous, Sura is a character I’m already enamored with, so kudos to Soule for making his new characters so damn likable. What truly made her the highlight of the issue was the twist that she didn’t know anything about the First Order and had just been using Poe to get details for a new story, which built off her earlier deception (misleading Lieutenant Weel of the First Order so she can spit acid into his face while he interrogates her!) that I was totally sold she was going to turn on Poe and the Resistance. But in a series of flashbacks, detailing her setup to lure Poe into taking her to the Resistance base then switching to the events that took place afterwards, her experience with the First Order is what changes her mind. She might not know much about them, but once she witnesses how they’d rather murder a whole bar of civilians than be seen as kidnappers, Sura understands something must be done about them and revealing the Resistance’s secret base certainly isn’t going to help take the First Order down. The reveal of Sura’s twist, and her change of heart, were effectively surprising and added a whole layer of seriousness to what had been simply quite the fun, adventurous issue. Sura’s particular skill set would make her not only a perfect asset to the Black Squadron, but she also seems like the perfect person to uncover the still on the loose spy, no? I imagine we’ll be seeing more of Sura, especially as the hunt for the spy heats up, and I’d bet she’ll be the one to uncover the truth…let’s just hope the spy doesn’t kill her at some point for finding out the truth because I’d really hate to see her go!
Series artist Phil Noto got a mini-break as Angel Unzueta and Frank D’armata took over for #7. Unzueta has drawn for Star Wars comics before, namely issues #3/4 of Shattered Empire and the Star Wars Annual #1, while this is D’armata’s first gig for the saga. Unzueta does action and spectacle really well, as he finds creative ways of framing the chase sequences as well as capturing the urgency of it. He seems to be having a lot of fun with Suralinda’s species throughout the issue and her overall look added immensely to Soule’s characterization of her. However, and I noted this in Unzueta’s first Shattered Empire outing in regards to Leia’s face, he doesn’t do the best with Poe “the most ruggedly handsome pilot in the Resistance” Dameron’s face, never quite catching Oscar Issac’s looks nor making a different version of his own that sits well for the character. Noto admitted way back that drawing Issac’s face is difficult, but he’s done a consistently good job on that front, so I can’t hold it completely against Unzueta because he only had one issue to try to flex his drawing Oscar Issac muscle. D’armata’s colors really add some unique details, especially how the storm plays off everything in the scenes with Poe and Sura in the stormsailer or the filtered look to Sura’s flashbacks. It’s hard to step into Noto’s shoes, but the team here did a fine job of it when given the chance.
Here are a few other things:
- Suralinda’s species are named Squamatan. Sura’s tongue and ability to spit acid certainly gave me snake-like impressions for their species.
- In an interview with Tosche-Station’s Bria, Soule revealed Terex’s history might involve the Battle of Jakku, he promised we’ll get more with Jess Pava as the series continues, and it seems many other authors really like Terex as a character….and so much more! Go check it out!
- I do believe this is the first time we’ve ever ‘seen’ a vibroknife because Weel’s blade certainly looks and acts like they’ve been described as before.
Poe Dameron #7’s standalone tale is worthwhile diversion thanks to a solid new art team, Suralinda Javos, and Poe really laying on the fun, charming rogue persona. After these first seven issues, I’m beginning to find myself enjoying this series more for its Star Wars-feel than the mainline Star Wars series!
+ Soule brings Poe to life more so than ever before
+ Suralinda’s journey
+ New art team steps up…
– …except for Poe’s face.
CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
Black Squadron: #1 | #2 | #3 | Lockdown: #4 | #5 | #6 | The Gathering Storm: #8 | #9 | #10 | #11 | #12 | #13
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) | 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)