Poe Dameron: Flight Log is the latest series of in-universe journals written from the perspective of a main character. Poe’s edition follows another from The Force Awakens: Rey’s Survival Guide. It also follows two from Rebels: Ezra and Sabine. Is this book worth the $10 ticket price?
For once, I can actually say yes. Poe’s log finally combines a Visual Guide, an Incredible Cross-Section, a narrative, and a movie in such a way that new information is added. Not only does it feel like a substantial addition to The Force Awakens, it also connects with a lot of other canon. Stories from Shattered Empire, C-3PO, Before the Awakening, and the Poe Dameron comic are interlaced perfectly into a single, coherent narrative. More on that soon.
For the most part, this makes Poe’s journal feels like an actual narrative. One of the most fun aspects of the book was seeing all of these stories roll together. It starts with logs from Before the Awakening, from Poe’s adventure with Rapier Squadron to his mission to oust Senator Ro-Kiintor as a First Order loyalist. The details are not entirely filled in, but there are enough to give you a sense of the story without having read it yourself. The logs then focus on a section describing his rescue of Admiral Ackbar from First Order captivity. The book throws a curveball: a fluff piece starring 3PO seems to be a disappointing commentary on the mission, more of a waste of space than fun description, but the next page is actually a two-page spread detailing the details of the rescue mission! I won’t spoil the outcome here, but seeing this new commentary was gutsy. It is not very often that we see a narrative in synopsis form before we see the actual story itself in a canon format. Now, we know what to expect when the actual narrative comes out, so I’m excited to see how they will make the story itself different enough to make it thrilling, and hopefully surprising! (Though, I will remind our readers that you can see this mission in a LEGO style animation!) This alone almost makes the book worth checking out. (One of the perks of the Story Group is that you can take risks in any book because even these super young reader stories are still canon!)
After these missions from stories taking place before TFA, we learn a little bit about what Poe was doing on his way to Jakku. While on the long journey, he updates the logs on his parents, Shara Bey and Kes Dameron. Though we don’t learn a lot of new information on Shara, I love the character and had fun revisiting her. Where Before the Awakening had already shined some light upon Shara’s character, we learn a lot more about Kes from this adventure. We see a lot of his relationship with Poe detailed, and then we hear about life on Yavin. These insights, his dad’s view of life as formed by his time with the Pathfinders, coupled with his mom’s optimism in the stars, shows a new dimension to Poe that was missing from the movie. As the Star Wars Saga is the story of parents and children, legacies, and how to deal with failure and successes of the past, giving Poe this sort of background solidifies his place in this grand narrative more than his appearance in the movie does alone.
We get a bit more insights into what happens after his escape from the Finalizer. It weaves in a bit that, as far as I remember, has only come from the Del Rey novelization. It shows how Poe wanders around Jakku to eventually wind up being saved by a speeder. Interestingly, we get back story into the alien that rescues him. It’s sort of silly, but worth seeing these silly little backstories to see that the canon is just as interested in the minutiae as Legends was. Because of this scene, Poe Dameron: Flight Log one of the first projects to actually add to the movie itself! (For the purpose of this review, I will exclude the ambiguously canon movie novelization.)
When I say that the book is an interesting combination between a Visual Guide and a Cross-Section book, I mean that the book is filled with cross-sections and guides. (I know – novel concept and a little on the nose.) For some, these might feel like an incredible waste of space. They take up half the page on their own, space where valuable canon information could have gone! I used to be one of those people. Thanks to books like these, I finally realized the value of having fun tidbits of information in a book rather than more canon for the sake of more canon. There are great little looks at cross-sections of the T-70, Black One, TIE/sf, and an A-Wing. There are a few more ships, but those are fun to discover in the process of reading the book (seriously: there are a lot). As an avid RPG Game Master, I find these details to be incredibly fascinating. Having these technical specs available to me allows me to add many new layers of storytelling and detail to my adventures. You may not think of the technical aspects while watching the movie, but these details add a new layer of depth to a film just knowing that someone thought about it!
There is a little more backstory on Lor San Tekka, but not a whole lot. But what is revealed starts to connect the stories in Poe Dameron the comic and The Force Awakens. One of the highlights of the book was seeing everything being drawn together. Without spoiling too much, and mostly letting the book put the story together for you, I would say that this book will easily make me re-watch The Force Awakens in a new light. I can’t say that the novelization, Finn or Rey’s Story, or the comic adaptation has put new light on the movie for me. Michael Kogge, the one who wrote the children’s adaptation for The Force Awakens, has been the only author who has given me the ability to see the movie in a new light.
Some miscellaneous opinions: I loved seeing Peet Deretalla again! His story was a really fun side-adventure in the Poe Dameron premiere issue, so I was happy that he even got a little blurb. I also loved a few new insights into BB-8. They might have been the most fun, so I will leave those to the book. There are a few fold out flaps, and some actually turned out to be cool enough to even impress me. A flip-up revealing General Organa as a hologram was especially fun.
All in all, the Flight Log was a fun insight into Poe Dameron’s character. It added a lot of backstory to his mission to Jakku by simply reframing the stories we have read before. Not only that, but it proved that Poe deserves his place in the Star Wars canon as one of the greats, up there with Padme and Luke and Rex and Vader and Rey themselves. I love The Force Awakens, and most days I’d say it’s my favorite movie, so to say that the Flight Log added more enjoyment to the film is saying quite a bit more than I’ve probably said about most canon projects. You’d be crazy to pass up a book this fun.
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