– Spoiler Review –
As the dust settles from the events of the previous 13 issues, Poe Dameron #14 slows things way down to deal with the fallout of the last arc’s finale, as the Resistance honors a fallen member of Black Squadron which also manages to serve up a nice goodbye for Carrie Fisher (that’s possibly changed my opinion about Leia’s role going forward in the films), while Poe and Terex learn valuable lessons about their role in their respective fights (from the powerful women in their lives)…with varying outcomes for both.
L’ulo has been around for at least the past two years and watching Poe deal with the death of the uncle-figure in his life was just as sad as I imagined, as well as hard for him as I expected. His speech, which includes a version of Obi-Wan’s death in A New Hope as part of a tale Leia told him and his family when he was younger, is pretty fantastic and moving, both about L’ulo and (as writer Charles Soule promised a while back) Carrie Fisher. Poe’s speech ends up talking about how we’re luminous beings, something Luke told Leia who told Poe, as the impact of our actions and influence can be felt long after we pass, a sentiment that not only addresses the loss of L’ulo and helps Poe realize the truth about Leia’s insistence throughout the issue he needs to be more than the best pilot in the Resistance, but it also comes back to losing Carrie. Leia forces Poe to think about more than just the next mission, rather the Resistance as a whole, when she grounds him until he can figure out why his single-mindedness/self-focus just won’t be enough in the long run. When he makes the realization, Leia mentions her push to have him rethink his role in the Resistance stems from the fact she’s unsure of how much longer she’ll be part of the fight/be its leader, saying, “And, I’m sorry to say, probably sooner than we’d like…I’ll be luminous,” which is Soule’s way of addressing Carrie’s passing but also Leia’s concerns about how the Resistance will continue on without her, if it comes to that. In a way, this is Leia actively searching the next generation for new leaders/new fighters/those committed to the cause to continue the fight of helping free everyone from the First Order’s oppression, and her admission of frailty and concern about the future has given me pause about my feelings towards Leia’s role in the films, specifically Ep. IX. From what we’ve heard, she won’t be in the movie (either written out or because she doesn’t survive The Last Jedi), which has gone against my belief Leia should be recast so her role isn’t diminished and her story told completely (and yes, I understand no one can replace Carrie Fisher in the role, but I imagine there’s an actress out there that could honor the role and Carrie correctly), but hearing Leia talk about her possible demise and the need for the next generation to take up the mantle of fighting for everyone else kind of makes her potential off-screen death for Ep. IX make sense to me more because it’ll let the next generation take up the baton passed by her, something Legends was having problems doing as it continued to kill off its next generation of characters (and even ended with a novel that essentially was set up as a send off to the Big Three but kept them around to stay in the focus anyways). I got all that from a funeral speech in a comic book about Poe Dameron…have I ever mentioned how great of a writer Soule is? Because I’d like to submit the above train of thought coming from just a few lines of dialogue written by him as an example of how he can both tell a great story and give it a very symbolic and deeper meaning.
I absolutely enjoyed the juxtaposition of Terex and Poe’s struggle to understand their part in the greater scheme of their respective fights, as while Poe realizes he’s being groomed for leadership and accepts the honor (which he already seems headed in that direction in The Force Awakens and I’m sure that’ll only increase in TLJ), Terex attempts to wiggle his way back into the First Order’s graces to help serve his own desire for control and order. The fundamental difference between these two is how one only thinks of himself and how he is necessary for success while the other realizes that’s not always the case, and it shows why they’ve been a great pair to see battle throughout the past thirteen issues. In a testament to how compelling and enjoyable of a villain Soule created with Agent Terex, I was actually pretty sad about what happened to him here even if he deserved it: Captain Phasma straps the First Order’s equivalent of the implants to Terex, making him a loyal, committed drone with a wealth of knowledge. How Lobot ultimately succumbs to the implants is far more poetic and heartbreaking (as seen in the early classic Lando series) than Terex, but considering he was such a charismatic, unpredictable, and yet entertaining villain and now he’ll be a subservient tool effectively kills him off without actually killing him. It’s a fate worse than death, but maybe, just maybe, he might find a way out of it? I can only hope (he is assigned a mission by Phasma at the end of this issue so maybe this isn’t the last we’ll see of him), but for now Terex’s fate is sad, understandable, and very cruel…only fitting for the former head of the Rancs.
With Phil Noto out, Angel Unzueta on art (previously joining Poe Dameron for issue #7) and Arif Prianto on colors fill in the giant hole left in Noto’s wake and they manage to do quite the job that I’m happy to say things certainly feel like we’re still in good hands. My problems with Unzueta’s work with actor likenesses in the past isn’t as warranted this issue, as he seems to have a better handle on Oscar Isaac’s look and mannerisms, though not all the time, while his ability to bring Carrie Fisher’s face to the page is pretty astounding (considering in Shattered Empire I didn’t like his work on a younger Leia); Plus, his Terex was fantastic, but I’m not worried about his work on original characters. Together, Unzueta and Prianto do some very great things with color and light to help highlight this issue’s focus on the individuals and its lack of action.
Here are a few other things:
- If this is just a taste of how much more menacing Captain Phasma is going to get, I’m even more excited for not only her role in The Last Jedi, but also her upcoming comic series and novel (both part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi).
- Oddy is on the Muva! Sorry, I couldn’t resist that pun even if I tried. Considering how the issue ends with Poe sort of letting questions and his pursuit of Oddy go, I don’t know if we’ll ever be seeing the ex-tech again or if Poe and Black Squadron will ever get closure knowing Oddy wasn’t a complete traitor. We readers know and maybe that’s enough.
- I liked how Threepio’s memory core was damaged due to BB-8’s electric attack on Terex, but the result of that means Threepio is rebooted with an upgrade, potentially losing those memories. However, after the surprisingly deep C-3PO one-shot comic last year, one has to wonder if he’ll have phantom memories of his adventures with Poe on Kaddak.
Soule helps us through the loss of a real person and a fictional character, pushes Poe and Terex onto new paths, while new artists take up the challenge left in the previous’ wake in an another excellent, and quite, Poe Dameron issue.
+ Touching tribute to those fallen in the comic and real life
+ Terex put on a leash by Phasma
+ Unzueta and Prianto are certainly welcomed as Noto’s replacements
CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6) | The Gathering Storm (#7-13)
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)