Congratulations to Charles Soule and Angel Unzueta for creating a comic page that made me audibly gasp really, really loudly.
It’s a relatively quiet issue for Black Squadron. They’re present, of course, and Poe, Snap, and Jess all have some nice moments but the real focus this month is on Leia Organa and Lor San Tekka. Poor Lor is imprisoned thanks to breaking and entering in search of knowledge and while Leia might be looking to find adequate storage and protection for her birth mother’s gowns, she definitely has an alternative agenda going on. Come on, it’s General Organa. She’s leading the Resistance. You don’t really think she’s just there to store dresses, do you?
This is actually something that I really like about this book. While Poe’s obviously the focus, Soule isn’t afraid to pull back and let other characters take and/or share the spotlight at times. It worked really well in the arc where the guys and girls split up and it works rather well in this issue too. Also, it certainly doesn’t hurt that this arc has thus far been a stellar example of how to incorporate Prequel elements in the Sequel era. After all, it’s one big galaxy.
Jess’s trouble with droids has shifted from being a funny joke to a genuine thing that makes me want to hug her
I just don’t care about Snap/Karé and their troubles
That lake gown. THAT LAKE GOWN
Phil Noto’s cover is drop dead gorgeous
Poe Dameron #21 keeps doing a lot of things right and I can’t wait to see where this arc goes.
Poe Dameron #21: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
Black Squadron: Not actually doing all that great
Lor San Tekka: Also not doing all that great
Poe Dameron #20 emphasizes that the Resistance is probably lucky that they even have a base and any matching uniforms. In terms of size and strength, they definitely aren’t on par with the Rebel Alliance. The Resistance is closer to being like just one of the original rebel cells before they became a part of the larger group… albeit it with more famous names attached. It’s fantastic how the books and comics can help flesh out the galaxy during the time.
Wait. Let me amend my first: Poe’s actually doing pretty good. He’s got his fancy x-wing back! Snap, Karé, and Jess though? Not so much. I won’t spoil those specifics for you but I will say that there is a delightfully meta BB-8 joke that made me giggle.
Gotta say though… “Legend Found” as an arc title does make me wonder curious about the future of the comic. We’ve always assumed that Jakku was the first time that Poe was meeting Lor San Tekka but given the title and this set up issue… maybe that’s not the case which in turn raises a lot of questions about that meeting. Perhaps “This will begin to make things right” doesn’t mean what we’ve always thought.
“Legend Found” is a nice start to the arc and while I’m certainly excited to finally get to know Lor San Tekka a little more, I think I’m even more excited about getting to see Black Squadron fly a mission while trying to deal with their own personal struggles. (Jessika Pava. I just want to see more Jess Pava all the time.)
Poe Dameron #20: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
I feel like I’m just repeating myself at this point but it bears saying again: War Stories is a very X-Wingy sort of story. That’s X-Wing with a capital X, by the way. As in the X-Wing series.
Why has War Stories made me happy? Oh let us count the ways…
It made the series feel like more of an ensemble piece again
It’s not afraid of humor
This includes bad jokes/puns because our heroes can’t be perfect at everything (LOOKING AT YOU, POE DAMERON)
The use of a holojournalist and propaganda examines a not as often dealt with aspect of war
The new main villain would totally be twirling her mustache if she had one and I mean that in the best way possible
We get illusions to a character’s tragic backstory which leaves us wanting to know more
It tugs at your heartstrings when you least expect it
Poe Dameron #19 is the cap on a very solid arc that has been very Star Wars to the core. There hasn’t really been any moment that’s left me gasping in shock or crying my eyes out in this arc but it’s been fun and I’ve enjoyed the heck out of every minute. Perhaps I’m biased because I adore Jess Pava but I can definitely see this being a story arc that I keep coming back and rereading. Kudos to all involved.
Poe Dameron #19: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor
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 →