– Spoiler Review –
The best pilot in the galaxy stars in the latest on-going Marvel Star Wars comic: Poe Dameron! Written by Charles Soule (who’s a Star Wars comics veteran at this point) with art by Phil Noto, Poe Dameron #1 brings across Poe’s charm and skills in comic panels, it layers in some interesting bits to the background of The Force Awakens, and promises to explore some of the stranger parts of the universe. In other words: it’s a stellar start for a new series! There’s also a BB-8 one-shot in the issue and it’s about the cutest thing you’ll ever see (and not just because it stars BB-8, though that helps a lot).
While we know Poe Dameron won’t find Lor San Tekka (played in the film by Max von Sydow) until the start of The Force Awakens, issue #1 of his series starts with Leia giving him the mission in the first place. Leia’s intel on Lor San Tekka comes from intercepted data, thanks to Poe’s first big mission for the Resistance, meant for the First Order and Supreme Leader Snoke, revealing the evil group’s intentions on locating her brother, Luke Skywalker. While we already know this from TFA, we learn it won’t be an easy road to get to Jakku/San Tekka, as Poe quickly finds out their trail goes cold at the backwater planet he visits in #1. But the First Order, somehow getting a tracking device on Poe’s black X-wing, is already hot on their tails, possibly setting the series up to explain how the FO knew about San Tekka’s Jakku hideout as well. The most interesting aspects of the issue though, besides all the set-up about Poe’s place in the galxy prior to TFA and the introduction of his newly assembled Black Squadron, are both the egg worshiping group Poe meets and figuring out why a Jedi artifact/sacred site hunter and adventurer like San Tekka would’ve found it important to visit them.
The yet unnamed planet Poe and Black Squadron visit contains a treacherous, dead-ended cave which houses a giant, glowing green egg protected by a multi-species group calling themselves the Crèche. They are in charge of protecting and caring for the egg, which they believe contains some harbinger of salvation (which a quick Google search reveals that’s exactly what the word crèche stands for), but what it’ll bring salvation to and why are still up for question. San Tekka took the time and had the patience to learn the Crèche’s secrets, but Poe’s hilarious mention of being on a timetable (due to the fate of the galaxy depending on him) causes the group’s apparent leader to deny him any of their knowledge. There’s some fun back and forth with Poe and the Crèche, as he tries to figure out how best to appeal to them and convince them he’s not their enemy but a friend, and in the end it’s a combination of his charm and sincerity (plus offering to protect them from an invading First Order presence) which seems to earn him the pal status he so eagerly wants with them. Throughout the issue, it feels like Poe at his finest and I can’t wait to see him interact with other new groups and characters throughout the series. Some of the big questions regarding the mystery of Crèche include: Will we get to see the egg hatch? What secrets in San Tekka’s quest for Jedi knowledge did he uncover here? And can Poe and the rest of the squad save them from the First Order? I don’t know for sure, but I’m looking forward to the answers to these questions and the many others I’m sure I’ll have as the series continues.
While not as big of a question as the ones regarding the mystery of the egg, learning how the First Order tracking device got on Poe’s X-wing is still quite important. Considering he was on D’Qar, the Resistance’s secret base first scene in TFA (and first mentioned in Lost Stars) and then the planet with the egg, could there be a mole? My only other guess would be the FO put a bunch of trackers along known hyperspace lanes out of the D’Qar system, hoping they’d attach to a Resistance fighter at one point, but that seems like a waste of time and resources. And in the end, a mole makes for a more interesting story, which means it’s possible we’ve already met the character.
Most of the Black Squadron introduced in PD #1 include familiar faces from other parts of the canon, while some can be seen as members of Blue Squadron in TFA (who attacked Starkiller Base with Poe). Temmin “Snap” Wexley was first seen in Aftermath and is portrayed by Greg Grunberg in TFA (who Noto does a good drawing of) and the issue gets to reveal he was at the Battle of Jakku at age 16 (as he is part of the New Republic by Aftermath‘s end) so it’s possible we’ll see that unfold in Aftermath: Life Debt in July or Empire’s End next year). Karé Kun was recruited by Poe during Before the Awakening, who flies with him on the mission which recovers the San Tekka location data, though she’s not seen in TFA. L’ulo, the Duros pilot (still flying an A-wing!), was Lieutenant over Shara Bey, Poe’s mother, back in the original trilogy days as seen in Shattered Empire, which meant my heart dropped out a bit when he called Poe ‘son’ (despite not being his actual dad). Jess Pava, already a Resistance member, starred in the bookend TFA tie-in sections of Luke’s YA novel The Weapon of the Jedi (where Noto previously drew her) as a pilot eager to learn more about Luke even if it meant a story from C-3PO, and is portrayed by Jessica Henwick in TFA. And lastly, Oddy Muva, a member of the Abednedo species seemingly so popular during this timeframe in the galaxy, functions as their tech (in TFA, Ello Atsy is the Abednedo pilot flying with Blue Squad). He seems to be the most likely candidate for a mole, if there is one, as he’s not in the film and has access to everyone’s ships considering he’s their tech. It’s a diverse, varied cast and I hope the others besides Snap get more time in the comic because he’s already got the biggest role out of them all. Plus, getting to see L’ulo and Poe talk briefly about Shara in any capacity would be utterly fantastic.
Soule’s work on Lando is what made him the writer I most looked forward to seeing return to Star Wars comics, while Obi-Wan & Anakin‘s run so far has only added to his early comic’s legacy. With Poe Dameron #1, Charles Soule has cemented himself as my favorite writer to date, as he manages to bring Poe’s charisma alive on the pages, weave the beginnings of what looks to be a fun, original, mysterious, and action-packed adventure, and give fans clamoring for a canon answer to the Legends X-Wing series just what they want. As much as Soule’s writing converts Oscar Issac into comic form as Poe here, it’s Phil Noto’s (Chewbacca) usually excellent work that brings it all home, as he does a terrific job of nailing the actor’s likeness in every panel, which even he admitted isn’t easy. He also makes the short sequence of Poe navigating the cave seem intense and fast paced due to both the panel placement and sense of speed he’s able to convey in how he frames said action. While getting the eponymous character and the ship action for this series just right is obviously important, you can’t forget Poe’s companion, BB-8! Noto’s BB-8 captures the droid’s loyalty and curiosity just as well as his Poe captures Issac, bringing this dynamic droid and human duo to life just like you remember from watching TFA. It’s hard to imagine a better pair at work at this series and they’ve certainly delivered in the first issue.
BB-8 One-Shot: “SaBBotage” by Chris Eliopoulos with Jordie Bellaire. This short little story is essentially just BB-8 playing matchmaker between Resistance pilot Theo Meltsa and Resistance tech Peet Deretalia. It’s super short and super sweet, and it’s entertaining as hell to see BB-8 not only recognize their interest in each other, but that he’s so insistent and goes to such lengths to get them together. Now I’m wondering if BB-8’ll try to play matchmaker for Poe in the upcoming films! The artwork is stylized, which might throw some people off and dismiss it, but you’ll be missing out on a big ol’ grin and smile if you do.
Here are a few other things:
- It’s surprising and neat to see just how much issue #1 and Poe’s story in Before the Awakening overlap. His reference to flying old ships to steal the data is an action scene included in his section of BtA, which leads to the moment Leia gives him the mission to find Lor San Tekka. The comic picks up almost immediately afterwards, though slightly overlaps the scenes to let readers of the comic be caught up. So far, between this and all the character backgrounds, the new canon has been unfolding rather well!
- My favorite bit of #1 comes when Poe first comes into contact with the group: BB-8 rolls over to protect Poe, getting in front of him and the group, shock attachment ready to mess some people up; I didn’t think I could love BB-8 anymore, but this issue proved me wrong quickly.
- Charles Soule guest-posted to the official site on how he was worried about bringing Poe to life and how quickly Oscar’s performance got him excited to write Poe, as well as how instrumental Noto was in helping him with the series. And in his interview at ComicBook.com, he talks about the FO villain to be introduced in issue #2, how BB-8 makes every scene better, Leia will continue to be a presence going forward, and again extols the virtues of Noto’s work (there’s some preview panels for #2 at the link as well).
Poe Dameron #1 essentially encapsulates the gif above, as this series looks to be some good fun with every issue, taking us on an exciting adventure we’ll keep wanting to return to starring both the greatest pilot in the galaxy and, of course, BB-8.
+ The charisma of Poe (brought to the page by Soule)
+ Phil Noto’s work
+ Egg mystery
CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
Black Squadron: #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)