Legends Lost become Legends Found in the most recent arc of Star Wars: Poe Dameron as Black Squadron finally finds Lor San Tekka! Unfortunately, Agent Terrex and Commander Malarus are hot on their trail…
Poe Dameron, from its inception, was inspired by Black Squadron’s search for Lor San Tekka. I wasn’t sure how long it would take before the series found him, but I didn’t expect it to be this early in the run! This series has been so much fun so far that I was worried that this was going to be the final arc of the series. It had reached its natural end, after all! Thankfully, this arc was more of a fulcrum, leading us into a different sort of adventure in the next arc. We meet Lor San Tekka on Cato Nemoida, breaking into a high security Nemoidian vault in order to examine a long lost Force relic. Despite his high tech gear (I wonder what would happen if Aphra got hold of some of his tech?), he is imprisoned by the Nemoidians and sentenced to death. General Organa then commands Black Squadron to rescue him – before its too late.
It is always a little weird when the titular character becomes the least interesting character in a comic. The most interesting character in the arc, hands down, is General Leia Organa. But, honestly, who is surprised about that? For most of this series, Leia has served a side role, assigning missions while only appearing on D’Qar for a few pages. This arc changes this, not only giving Leia more page-time, but putting her in the midst of the action! One of my favorite parts of this arc was watching Leia’s plan to save Lor San Tekka unfold, Ocean’s 11-style. As we watch the plan unfold, Leia provides the narration, showing the different angles that Black Squadron would take to mount a successful run. Not only does this show her own ingenuity, but we see how years of marriage to Han Solo affects the way that she plans these sneaky rescue missions. Part of Leia’s plans involve tricking the Nemoidians into taking Padmé’s old dresses into their fortresses for safekeeping. Then, Poe would smuggle Lor San Tekka out of his cell inside the dress containers. Charles Soule, author of this series and Lando, Obi-Wan & Anakin, and Darth Vader, featured a tribute to Carrie Fisher, obscured behind a eulogy for L’ulo, was one of the most touching moments in recent Marvel comics memory (issue #14), but hearing Leia’s hope that her granddaughter would wear Padmé’s dresses at some point was a close second.
Each individual member of Black Squadron gets a lot of time in the spotlight in this book, making it a true ensemble cast. I can’t think of another title where I feel so invested in the entirety of the cast, including the villains (whom I will return to). Almost every member of Black Squadron has a side plot in this arc. I have to hand it to Soule: with the entire series leading to finding Lor San Tekka, any side plots may feel like a distraction. This is, thankfully, not the case here. Our investment in the characters’ lives makes these side stories a lot of fun, bringing a lot of heart into the series. My favorite subplot of the series featured Jessika Pava, one of the pilots from The Force Awakens. Jessika struggles to find an astromech droid to fly with her as she has lost so many of them before. The droids even start to refer to her internally as The Great Destroyer. (Side note: this makes re-reading Weapon of the Jedi pretty funny when she is put on droid maintenance duty!) BB-8 convinces his droid girlfriend to fly with her to rescue Lor San Tekka, leading to a momentous sacrifice.
My least favorite side story of the arc was the relationship drama between Snap Wexley and Karé Kun. Karé is concerned that their relationship is distracting both of them from completing missions to the best of their ability. In response to this, she says that they should probably act like Jedi and temporarily disavow romantic entanglements. Now, both of these characters have been developed both in the series and outside of the series: Snap was a main character in Aftermath and Karé Kun was one of Poe’s wingwomen in Before the Awakening. Heck, the pair even got married in Join the Resistance: Escape from Vodran. Unfortunately, even this background info doesn’t help give this subplot the weight it needs. I was never able to get too emotionally invested into their relationship woes. That may be due to the fact that their relationship was always a given in the series, so seeing the relationship fall apart after a single fight was a little forced. Second, because they had already been wed in Join the Resistance, I was confused why they would so casually end their marriage. Snap is so distracted by his relationship falling apart that he almost kills Poe in a training exercise, which probably confirms that Karé was correct in her assessment of their relationship. Within the space of the arc, they fix their relationship problems and end up…in another wedding? As sweet as this moment as, it was hard to know if this was a replacement of their first wedding, a second ceremony, or a simple contradiction? Matt Martin addressed this “wedding(s?) issue” on Twitter, leaving it a bit in the air. Whether or not there is official consensus on how these weddings coordinate, it didn’t help my initial reaction. I feel better about it now (and prefer the fart-less take!), but I am curious to see how this (or if!) is resolved.
This leaves us with our final hero, also the star of the comic, Poe Dameron. Tensions are high around Poe on the web ever since The Last Jedi showed Poe’s failure in leadership in the evacuation of D’Qar and his relationship with Holdo. Because of this, I am very thankful for his characterization in this series. His take-charge attitude comes from a place of wanting to help and concern from his friends. I know this comic doesn’t exist to bolster the movie, but I think if you had a problem with his characterization in the movie, reading this series will show you how he has naturally progressed as a leader and student under Leia Organa. It was satisfying to see Poe’s mission come to a successful end (eventually!) when he and Lor have a conversation on D’Qar as the rest of the Resistance celebrates Snap and Karé’s wedding.
There are a few authors who really, really understand the Force, both in the way they describe it or in the way characters interact with it. Charles Soule is definitely one of them, and he has a lot of time to explore the Force in this arc. Lor San Tekka is a great person to focus on in studying Force lore, which makes me really interested in a mini-series about him! Lor is drawn to Cato Nemoidia to examine the Kazerath Device, a device activated by both the dark and light side of the Force in tandem. Soule had already written an arc about the Resistance being low on fuel, and now the light/dark working in tandem theme comes up right as Kylo and Rey team up to fight the Prateorian Guards. I’m becoming more and more convinced that Soule is a psychic when it comes to Star Wars storylines. Later, in the final issue of the arc, Lor San Tekka has a double-page spread discussing his recent interactions with the Force, as he senses an oncoming awakening.
Finally, Star Wars in general has struggled to create challenging or scary new comic villains. Star Wars, the flagship series, may have a new worthy adversary in General Konchar, but it has struggled with other villains, such as the disappointing SCAR Squadron. Thankfully, this looks to be turning around, thanks to Doctor Aphra, Poe Dameron, and Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith (another Soule title). Both Commander Malarus and Agent Terex are fantastic villains, scary in their own rights. Malarus, obsessed with finding Black Squadron, hijacks Black One and Leia’s ship, while juicing with performance enhancing drugs to replicate some of Poe’s more daring piloting techniques. As satisfying as her end was in the arc, I was looking forward to her being a constant antagonist to Black Squadron!
Agent Terex, on the other hand, has been one of my favorite comic book characters for the entirety of the series. He is unpredictable, out for himself, and a master tactician. We have seen him command legions of stormtroopers and his own gang, the Rancs. We have seen him as a former stormtrooper, struggle with his role in the First Order, and now see him out for himself and himself alone. Having been technologically brain washed by Phasma to serve the First Order without his personality getting in the way, Terex is looking for a way out. While Malarus and Black Squadron duke it out in the sky, he escapes with Lor San Tekka and heads straight to the First Order! As the First Order’s technological hold on his mind is slipping, he starts to scheme in order to escape their hold. He uses a riot control baton to zap his implants, giving him clarity of mind. When he has this clarity, he comes up with a plan to secure his freedom (safeguarding it against any tricks the First Order may pull to keep him on board) by initiating a meeting with the First Order using Lor as bait. While he escapes to the First Order, he throws Padmé’s dresses into hyperspace specifically to hurt Leia. This makes him truly the easiest villain to love to hate. Now that the series is running concurrently with The Force Awakens, I am curious as to which direction his future will be taking…
Angel Unzueta (art) and Arif Prianto (colors) do magnificent work on this arc, both in their ability to do dynamic action scenes and more static conversations. Angel’s ability to capture the ever-elusive portrait of Oscar Isaac is unparalleled. I am currently watching Netflix’s Iron Fist, so I was struck by how life-like Jessika Pava (played by Jessica Henwick, the co-lead in Iron Fist) looks in the comic without being traced from movie stills. I hope this pair sticks around for a long time, and I hope they are able to branch out into different eras, as well! As much as I love Phil Noto’s art, who is now on cover duty rather than interiors, this art is a worthy follow-up. Editors Jordan White and Heather Antos are stepping away from Marvel Star Wars comics as this series shifts gears into The Force Awakens, so I will be extremely curious to see how both a new editor and new direction for the series affect the book’s future.
The Last Jedi
The Old Republic Era: Dawn of the Jedi: Into The Void | Lost Tribe of the Sith | The Old Republic: Revan | The Old Republic: Deceived | Red Harvest | The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance | The Old Republic: Annihilation | Knight Errant | Darth Bane: Path of Destruction | Darth Bane: Rule of Two | Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil
The New Jedi Order Era: Scourge
Star Wars Young Reader Reviews:
Adventures in Wild Space: The Escape (Prelude)
So You Want to be a Jedi?
Beware the Power of the Dark Side!
Poe Dameron: Flight Log
Princess Leia: Royal Rebel (Backstories)
Darth Vader: Sith Lord (Backstories)
The Force Awakens: Finn’s Story
Forces of Destiny:
Daring Adventures vol 1 | Daring Adventures vol 2 | Tales of Hope & Courage | Leia Chronicles
LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures Reviews:
“A Hero Discovered” 1×01 | “The Mines of Gabralla” 1×02 | “Zander’s Joyride” 1×03 | “The Lost Treasure of Cloud City” 1×04 | “Peril on Kashyyyk” 1×05 | “Crossing Paths” 1×06