– Spoiler Review –
After a fun and thoroughly entertaining side story, the Poe Dameron comic returns the titular character back to the main storyline of the new arc, “The Gathering Storm,” in issue #8. There’s a lot of setup for the mission ahead for Poe, but the real focus is on the exciting history lesson regarding Agent Terex’s past and how nice it is to have Phil Noto back, while this series continues its efforts at out Star Wars-ing the mainline series
Fresh off his exciting vacation in the previous issue, Poe is wrestling with the suspicion he now has for his squadmates because he considers them to not just be friends, but his family. He blames the predicament on Terex because there’s no way the First Order agent has been one step ahead of Black Squadron if he doesn’t have a mole within their group somehow, someway, so what’s a squad-leader to do? Before he can chase down that thread, General Leia sends Threepio to recruit Poe for a mission to recover one of the protocol droid’s spy units who possibly has data with the whereabouts of Supreme Leader Snoke himself. Their mission takes them to Kaddak, a world Poe claims is completely lawless. On the flip side Terex is licking his wounds after his defeat at the hands of Black Squadron at Megalox Beta and, while reminiscing on events in his past, he decides to go to Kaddak because he wants it to hone him back into the confident agent we all love to hate like it did when he visited there many years ago. As you can guess, Poe and Terex might find themselves face-to-face very soon…
Watching Poe be unable to trust his squadron, and how disgusted he is with himself over that distrust, is pretty painful to read and see. Everything up till this point with Poe in it has shown him to be a very easy-going, trusting, and downright decent dude, so seeing him struggle with still being himself and doing the difficult thing of investigating his squadron is easy because you know this is almost harder on him than facing a known enemy like Terex. Knowing Leia wanted him to investigate the mole at the end of issue #6, it seems a little weird she would have Threepio take him on a mission that seemingly has nothing to do with the mole…unless Leia is having him go solo as bait, so to speak, to see who reports Poe’s movements to Agent Terex. Either way, Poe seems happy to have a purpose other than looking twice at the people he calls family, as subterfuge and spying aren’t things he’s comfortable with or good at, and he takes up the mission without question especially with Snoke’s whereabouts on the line.But Poe’s frustrations are a cause for concern, as his anger and vendetta against Terex has the potential to get in the way of the main mission, causing the valuable data of Snoke’s location to be lost for good.
Soule has promised before (and most recently in this interview) that we’d be diving into Agent Terex’s past and after this issue’s first tidbits I am very excited to see more. In my review of #6, as Terex’s facade of a controlled and confident man slowly unraveled, I wondered, “How did this darker, less controlled version of Terex come to be? What helped him build up his walls made of ego, confidence, and charm?” It seems we’ll be getting straight to that answer this arc, as whatever crucible Terex passed through in the past happened on Kaddak. In a pretty stunning opening flashback image (courtesy of Phil Noto, returning from a one-issue break), we’re treated to a mega-shot of the Battle of Jakku and a Star Destroyer crashing into the desolate desert below. While we knew Terex was a stormtrooper, we only get to see the end of his run as one since his fellow squadmate shoots their squad leader because he’s realized the Empire’s fight is over. Terex struggles with the concept but joins his squadmate and friend in finding a way off Jakku. A year (!) later, they’ve built themselves a hodgepodge mess of a ship and his squadmate Corlac sets them on a course for Kaddak, but while Corlac is looking to revel in the freedom, Terex (with his stormtrooper armor in tow, despite burying it a year before) is looking to be the man the Empire will need when it resurfaces. Whatever he ended up doing on Kaddak, it turns him into whatever the other crime lords feared/respected about him back at Megalox Beta Prison, and it gives him a sweet set of badass armour that includes his original stormtrooper stuff. As for what he plans on doing there in the present, fully adorned in his armour, I can only guess at this point but it seems like he’s attempting to get his mojo back after the loss he was handed by Black Squadron. These flashbacks and Terex’s story is easily my most anticipated part of the upcoming issues.
I really enjoyed the art from Angel Unzueta in #7 (minus his take on Poe’s face) but it just feels right to have Phil Noto back, as he has an innate understanding of Star Wars that feels both like his own thing but instantly recognizable as taking part of the galaxy far, far away. My jaw still drops at the shot of the Destroyer crashing into Jakku’s surface, while I really dig the design of the Ugly* and Terex’s armour. I am looking forward to seeing more of Kaddak, especially with the weird and intriguing design of the giant pink jewel sticking out of the planet’s crust that the city both Poe and Terex visit surrounds. Also, the shot of BB-8 holding out a towel for Poe after his workout? Priceless. And on the writing side…can Charles Soule ever do any wrong? His take on Threepio is as chatty as ever while still retaining some humor found in the droid’s prattling. And even though this issue is full of expositional dialogue, it’s all very entertaining and informative, giving us a look at how Poe is dealing with the dilemma of a spy and how Terex is reacting to the fallout of his failure. This mission to recover a droid who has info on Snoke’s possible location, Poe’s struggles about a possible spy, and a trip down memory lane for Terex continues to build a case for why Poe Dameron is a better mix of all the things that make up Star Wars than the mainline series has been doing as of late. Keep it up, Soule, keep it up.
Here are a few other things:
- I’m still fairly certain the reporter character, and breakout star of Poe Dameron #7, Suralinda Javos will be important in the mole hunt ahead, but I couldn’t help myself wondering if it might end up being a droid. Snap, Jessika, and L’ulo should essentially be automatically cleared (Snap and Jessika because of The Force Awakens appearances, L’ulo because of his history with the Dameron’s) and that leaves Kare Kun, but she too doesn’t seem like the canidate considering all her years flying with Poe. So I’m hedging my bets on a droid, possibly one that’s part of Threepio’s network.
- Normally, or at least that we’ve seen so far, Poe is always excited to fly a new ship (see his enthusiasm jumping into the First Order TIE fighter or his excitement about trying out a stormsailer in #7) so it was funny to have him be disappointed about flying the big, ugly, smuggling ship they’ve been assigned for this mission.
- *The ship Corlac and Terex build is a combination of TIE Interceptor wings, a AT-AT head for a cockpit, and what looks like X-wing engines. It’s as ugly as can be and certainly would make for an awesome toy here in the real world, but it also functions as a sly little reference to Uglies, the patched together ships pirates, smugglers, and many others used in Legends story (some were even used against Rogue Squadron, and since this has kind of been a replacement for that squad’s series, is a nice little nod to the comparisons).
- It’ll be interesting to see if we’ll learn any more about how much the galaxy, or at least the Resistance, knows in regards to what or who Supreme Leader Snoke is. The way Poe’s eyes light up when Threepio tells him the news, including his exclamation of “Whoa,” he certainly is excited at the chance of bringing the fight to their biggest enemy.
- In Terex’s shrine of armour from the Empire, including his set forged at Kaddak, there are hovertank pilot and Death Trooper helmets from Rogue One on the shelves (and even some type of picture in regards to the Death Star) for a cool little cameo!
- Noto, along with Mark Brooks (Han Solo) and Alex Maleev (Lando), discussed both the fun and difficulties of drawing their respective series’ in an interview with the offical site. As I noted earlier, and in my review, I wasn’t impressed with how Poe’s face looked in #7, and Noto mentions how he’s solved that problem in a rather ingenious way in the interview. Well worth a read for any comic fan and I especially enjoyed it because all three artists are my personal top three so far.
- My favorite line has to be when Threepio suggests they stay out of trouble, after Poe tells the droid he doesn’t think their ship will be much good in a fight, and BB-8 boops something at Threepio who slowly understands trouble is Poe’s middle name, “Well, of course I’ve met Poe Dameron. Don’t be ridiculous. I was just speaking to — Oh. Oh, dear.”
- Wonder if we’ll get to see the New Republic’s efforts to bring Kaddak under control, as Poe says every single ship they sent to the planet never returned. Color me intrigued!
Poe Dameron #8 starts us down a path I’m dying to see more of, as Poe and Terex are set to butt heads with little to no backup, Terex’s backstory is being revealed, and Snoke’s whereabouts are at stake. The issue left me wondering: Can Poe keep his head on straight to complete the mission or will he be too distracted by Terex?
+ Terex’s backstory is beginning to be revealed
+ Poe’s dilemma could cause problems for the new mission
+ Soule and Noto
CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
Black Squadron: #1 | #2 | #3 | Lockdown: #4 | #5 | #6 | The Gathering Storm: #7 | #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)