The arc with the boys’ trip and the girls’ trip continues and things don’t really go all that well for our favorites in Black Squadron. (Are you surprised? I’m not surprised.) It didn’t take long for Team Capable Ladies to find the First Order acting suitably terrible. While that’s good from Suralinda’s point of view so she can get footage, Jessika is less than content to wait and record while the lives of innocent people are threatened. Meanwhile, Team Guys is inching along on their search for Oddy and not being nearly as successful yet. Point is… women, we get the job done.
I can’t get over how happy this arc is making me especially since it’s bringing characters like Jess and Karé to the forefront again. I love that Jessika Pava isn’t someone who can just sit back and let bad things happen for the greater good. It’s a lovely contrast to the First Order lieutenant who’s arrogant and comfortable in his assertion that the First Order is better than the Empire so obviously they’ll win.
Surprisingly, Oddy turned out to be another highlight of this issue. Honestly, I wasn’t terribly excited about him surviving but his pages end up being oddly delightful? Although admittedly, it feels strange to use that word here but I can’t quite think of a better one.
Mostly importantly, the War Stories arc is fun. Do their missions have weight to them? Definitely. Does the story still press upon you how precarious the Resistance’s continued existence is? Absolutely but it never stops being fun and in Star Wars? That’s crucial.
Poe Dameron #18: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
The X-Wing Gods must have heard my prayers because this next arc is another Black Squadron story and not just a Poe thing! Actually, it’s two Black Squadron things which makes it even better.
The first group (which I shall call Team Rad Ladies) is on a propaganda mission. Suralinda, Karé, and Jess are charged with capturing footage of the First Order doing some very bad things which sounds almost deceptively easy. Meanwhile, Team Dudes (Poe and Snap) are off to find Oddy Muva. I’m more on board with Team Rad Ladies. Because obviously.
Back in my review of Issue #13, I mentioned that this comic really feels like the spiritual successor to the X-Wing books and every time we get more of the entire team, it becomes truer. Admittedly, I’m biased towards Jess Pava but I love that we’re getting more of her background here. Her need to work on her own ships and modify them isn’t just a line on her character sheet anymore; it’s a fundamental part of who she is. Granted, I’m now mildly worried about how things will go for her during this arc but at least we know she lives.
Has Malarus always had one blue and one red eye or am I just now noticing it? Either way… very Ysanne Isard.
The blurred movement panel of Threepio looks like a bizarre alien head
Yay for old school starfighters!
Did Jess have an astromech in her x-wing during The Force Awakens? Someone should check.
General Organa Sass = A+
It’s painfully clear that this arc is going to be trouble for Black Squadron. I love it.
Poe Dameron #17: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
As Poe Dameron #16 kicks off, Poe’s still on a freighter that’s about to blow up and the rest of his squadron are in ships with very little fuel. Oh yeah and they’ve still got to get that fuel ship back from the First Order. No biggie.
Something that Charles Soule has done a good job with is something that’s been in the background of the entire book but that this issue really drives home. The Resistance isn’t that well off. It’s almost like they’re back in the early days of the Alliance where every ship, every shipment, and every life matters. In the grand scheme of the Star Wars saga, a mission like this doesn’t seem that important but in the context of the Resistance? It’s vital. It also makes the Resistance feel that much more real.
What this particular issue does very well is highlight the team aspect of Black Squadron. Poe is great and it’s his name on the front of the book but more than a few readers are here for Jess, Karé, and Snap too. More and more, they’re starting to feel like characters who just might have some staying power like the Rogues of old. I can’t decide what’s funnier: Jess’s reputation with he droids or Snap calling Poe Space Crazy multiple times.
There’s something about the coloring that’s just very… shiny?
Nice to see more women in the First Order
Cyborg Terex is disturbing
Commander Malarus’ eyebrows are a work of art
BB-8 continues to be the real MVP but you all knew that
Poe Dameron #16 is a win both for readers and for Black Squadron but… I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Commander Malarus quite yet. (Good for us. Not so good for Poe.)
Poe Dameron #16: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
Poe Dameron: not having a great day. Or week. Or month. Or however much time it’s been since the last mission. Conversations like this with Leia Organa cannot be fun.
In the Annual, Poe is somehow both Wedge Antilles and also the person that Wedge Antilles is dressing down. It’s really quite admirable and (honestly) probably why so many of us love him. There were even a few panels where Poe looked like a hybrid of Wedge and Janson from the old X-Wing comics. There aren’t many people in the galaxy who have quite the same luck as Poe and Wedge nor who also have the same skill in a starfighter.
The Annual is mostly a solo adventure for Poe and BB-8 as they end up in trouble they didn’t expect. Mostly, the issue feels like an excuse for Poe to learn A Thing and for Nik Virella to draw some truly fantastic facial expressions for both Poe and Leia. You’ve never before seen such an unimpressed eyebrow raise. That alone is worth the price of admission.
In a way, this issue feels like a bit of a callback to The Force Awakens in terms of Poe’s mission. It’s difficult to describe how without spoiling the plot but the vibe is there nonetheless.
The Poe Dameron Annual is a perfectly acceptable story with fun art that makes it worth it.
Poe Dameron Annual: Robbie Thompson/Writer, Nik Virella/Artist, Jordan Boyd/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Editor, Jordan D. White/Supervising Editor
After last issue’s emotional tribute to both L’ulo and Carrie Fisher, Black Squadron moves onward because the Resistance can never afford to remain still for too long. After all, they’re beginning to run critically low on supplies, including fuel. Leia’s gotten some smuggler names from Han but someone seems to systematically be taking them out. Unsurprisingly, she turns to Black Squadron to help protect this latest fuel vessel. Also unsurprisingly… oh yeah the First Order is totally involved.
Poe Dameron #15 feels like a soft reset for the series. While art duties may have shifted to Ange Unzueta last issue, this issue still feels more like the start of something new. Terex is still working for the First Order but he’s not quite the same threat that he once was. Meanwhile, Black Squadron has to find a way to move forward in the wake of the loss of one of their own. On the surface, supplies and logistics might not seem like the most exciting story choice but I rather like it because it helps make the Resistance feel more real. They don’t have infinite funds and people within the New Republic can only do so much to help them.
A few other notes:
I sincerely hope that someone nerdier than me takes the time to translate the names of all the smugglers from Aurebesh.
I like that the smuggler captain distinctly looks not-human.
The lack of fuel thing is totally going to turn into a plot point.
Poe Dameron #15 continues to live up to the feel of the series and would be a great jumping on point for anyone new to the series.
Poe Dameron #15: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
Poe Dameron #14 just might be one of those comics where it’s advisable to read with a tissue box nearby and not just because there’s a funeral.
I mentioned last time that it’s never been more apparent that the Poe Dameron comic is a spiritual heir to the X-Wing novels from Legends and it’s even more obvious that Poe Dameron is Wedge Antilles’ spiritual successor. Poe has a gift both in the cockpit and for knowing the right thing to say as squadron leader in a time of sorrow but he also needs someone there to tell him that it’s okay to take a minute to process things and it’s not only okay but that he needs to. Charles Soule has said that this issue was his way of playing tribute to Carrie Fisher and it’s very nicely done. You can certainly see his intent but he doesn’t hit you over the head and have the artist write “IN MEMORY OF CARRIE FISHER” in giant glittery letters across every page. The issue is about Poe figuring out how to move forward in the wake of L’ulo’s death but it’s also, in its own way, about reminding us that Leia is a leader for a reason. She understands both war and people and that’s what it’s all about.
Surprisingly, Agent Terex still has his role to play in the issue. He’s now a prisoner of the First Order and… things do not go quite as you might expect. It’s a plot line that just might make you look at Captain Phasma a different way.
Angel Unzueta takes over art duties permanently from Phil Noto and it’s certainly a shift. I don’t dislike it but it’ll likely take a few issues to adjust after a dozen issues of Noto’s ever fabulous work. Unzueta does do some very neat work with his panel layouts and telling both parts of the story at once.
For oh so many reasons, this is definitely an issue you should pick up on release day.
Poe Dameron #14: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
He hasn’t gotten any less busy since the last time we chatted but Charles Soule was kind enough to sit down with me after the big Marvel panel at Star Wars Celebration last week. We talked about his relatively recently announced Darth Vader book and his continuing work on Poe Dameron including a very in depth look at today’s issue.
Warning! This interview contains spoilers for Poe Dameron #13 and I mean major spoilers. They are all in the back half of the interview so you can safely read until the first mention of the Poe book. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Bria for Tosche Station: So you still haven’t talked them into giving you a Palpatine book then? Just a Vader one?
Charles Soule: Yeah but a Vader book is by definition almost a Palpatine book at the same time. They’re still very, very intertwined. The story that I’m telling in the Vader book has Palpatine as the only point of connection that Vader has left anymore. He’s the only person he can turn to for any sort of advice or guidance. His physicality is completely different and completely changed. He has no anchor point except Palpatine, which Palpatine of course knows and realizes and uses to manipulate Vader further in the great tragedy that is Darth Vader’s life. Continue reading →
Thirteen might be an unlucky number for some but it’s definitely a lucky one as far as the Poe Dameron comic is concerned. In fact, this just might be one of the best issues of the comics thus far. There’s action, there’s humor, there’s comradeship, and droids get stuff done. In short, it’s never been clearer that this comic book is one of the spiritual successors to the X-Wing books from Legends and around here? That’s a very high compliment.
Poe Dameron: Still in a lot of trouble
Poe Dameron: Friend to droids everywhere
Poe Dameron: Making all this madness look gooooood
Those are just three of the taglines I’m considering for this month’s issue of Poe Dameron. Also in the running are “We don’t deserve these droids” and “Why didn’t we get to see BB-8 hanging out with Chopper on the page since that clearly happened at some point?”
Speaking of droids, BB-8 may continue to be the best and a delight but Threepio really comes in with a clutch move this issue. I rag on him a lot but, well, Leia made him her spymaster for a reason. He has his uses for more than just bantering with Artoo and driving those around him insane. Way to go, Goldenrod! On a related note, all of BB-8’s beeps and boops this issue are particularly fun and delightful especially when he’s *ahem* taking a cue from Chopper in terms of being a good droid teammate. Honestly, the droids really are the MVPs this issue. The timing is ironic given the most recent Rebels episode.
The issue has a bit of a chaotic feel to it but that’s a good thing as everything is rapidly coming to its conclusion. Honestly, I’m not sure that Terex is going to make it out alive and I’m a bit worried about Oddy. Heck, I’d be worried about Poe too if we didn’t know he makes it to Jakku. (It’s totally fine if N1-ZX gets disintegrated though.)
I am absolutely looking forward to seeing how this arc ends! It’ll be such a lovely post-Celebration present for those of us attending.
Poe Dameron #12: Charles Soule/Writer, Phil Noto/Artist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
Okay can we please start by discussing how drop dead gorgeous this cover is? Phil Noto is rarely anything but excellent but this is another level. I want this framed on my wall.
But about the actual content of the issue… Oh Terex. You’re certainly not going to win First Order Officer of the year and frankly, I’m increasingly concerned about your contining existence. (It’s shocking that Phasma hasn’t broken his spine already.) That said, Charles Soule is presenting us with an interesting comparison with our two sides. Leia formed the Resistance because the New Republic was blind to the threat and now Terex is using his own private army to strike against the Resistance because the First Order can’t. It’s a thought-provoking contrast especially since the First Order is so focused on….uhhh…order. It’s surprising that they’d bring Terex in at all and now that he’s in and pushing back so strongly against Phasma… how long will he stay a part of the First Order especially if he loses to Poe?
We still don’t know who the spy is for sure and it’s driving me insane! While Poe comes to the same conclusion that I did several issues ago, I have a feeling that there’s going to be a twist. This is comics: there’s always a twist and I can’t wait to read what it is.
Sidebar: If someone doesn’t pull together a Lord-General of the Rancs of Kaddak cotsume soon, I’m going to be very disappointed.
Poe Dameron #11: Charles Soule/Writer, Phil Noto/Artist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor