A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Oscar Isaac took off his helmet, his tousled hair cascading around his face, and Finn and the internet collectively fell in love. And now thanks to the Disney merchandising machine we all have a chance to spend a little more quality time with the greatest addition to Star Wars canon since Mara Jade. Who I guess is technically not canon anymore thanks to The Force Awakens. So…um…how ‘bout the galaxy’s best pilot, eh?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens with Poe Dameron collecting a vitally important thumb drive with part of a map to Luke Skywalker on it from a mysterious journeyman named Lor San Tekka. Tekka is hiding out in a village on Jakku, a desert planet that years before was the scene of the final stand in the war against the Empire after Leia, Luke, Han, and a gaggle of Ewoks won the Battle of Endor. Poe Dameron is a new series that tells the story of how Poe ended up in Tekka’s tent beginning with General Organa sending him and his crack Black Squadron—Snap Wexley, Jessica Pava, Karé Kun, L’ulo, and Oddy Muva—off into the galaxy to track down Tekka. But Poe’s not the only one after that map. The First Order is hot on his trail and it’s going to take all of Poe and his Black Squadron’s smarts to stay ahead of them.
The first issue of the ongoing series Star Wars: Poe Dameron was released by Marvel on April 6, 2016, with the second on, of course, May the Fourth. Writer Charles Soule (like, literally everything), artist Phil Noto (2014 Black Widow, Star Wars: Chewbacca), and letterer Joe Caramagna (Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel) are the men in charge of bringing to the page the rebellion’s greatest pilot. Plus a bonus Bill Watterson-esque comic at the end of #1 done by Chris Eliopoulos and Jordie Bellaire featuring everyone’s favorite orange and white robo-ball, BB-8. Sadly no bonus comic in issue #2.
To Pull or Not to Pull
Straight up: I loved this comic. I could probably just end this review there, but for your sake I’ll keep going. I am a lapsed original trilogy fan and massive The Force Awakens nerd. Aftermath was one of my favorite books of last year. And the amount of money I’ve spent on TFA merch in the past five months has left a serious dent in my bank account. Frankly, Poe Dameron could’ve been a dozen pages of nothing but Oscar Isaac photos and I’d still give it two thumbs up. Poe Dameron isn’t the best comic book on the market. If I’m being honest, it’s a solid B; not the best ever but far from meh. I loved it anyway and smiled from first panel to last because yay Star Wars!
There’s nothing especially surprising in the series, and since we know how it will to end there likely aren’t going to be any major twists and turns between now and then. Although the series is billed as ongoing, there’s only so many adventures to be had between the Crèche temple and the attack on the Jakku village. In other words, don’t get your hopes up for a bi Poe or any other major canon upsets.
Good news is that the story itself is pretty darn fun in a classic Star Wars way. It’s a fun little side adventure that expands the universe while sitting comfortably within canon. While searching for Lor San Tekka Poe encounters a religious cult that worships a blue egg and has to convince them to help him while also protecting them from the First Order. Captain Phasma sends Agent Terex, an ex Imperial stormtrooper, to recover from Poe the intel he intercepted between a New Republic spy and the First Order. Poe and BB-8 get cut off from Black Squadron and have to rely on their wits to get them out of it.
Poe willingly puts himself in danger to protect the helpless but also has enough faith in his team to trust that they’ll be there when he needs them the most. There are daring acts of heroism, brash piloting, and charming confidence galore. If you read the Star Wars: Princess Leia that came out last year (and if you haven’t, you totally should) you’ll see why Leia has such a soft spot for our dashing hero. In fact, there’s quite a bit of similarity between the two stories—about as much as between A New Hope and The Force Awakens—with both heroes traveling similar arcs albeit with very different end results.
Charles Soule has perfectly captured Oscar Isaac’s puppy dog playfulness. Moreover, he nails the type of characters this updated Star Wars ‘verse contains. I could see a guy like Terex popping up in Chuck Wendig’s pre-TFA books. The original trilogy always felt a little too cloistered to me, but this new expanded universe feels exciting and vast…crunchy and meaty…real.
Phil Noto’s artwork also handily reproduces the cast in fine detail, leaning heavier on realism than most comic books. The combination of Soule’s dialogue and Noto’s art makes the story feel almost like a deleted scene from the movie rather than a standalone title. Occasionally the art tries too hard to be realistic and comes off instead as static as if the images were stills from a camera, but most of the time it flows at a nice clip. The fight/action sequences work particularly well as set pieces. Joe Caramagna has some fun with the sound effects and BB-8’s chirpy “dialogue.” Even Chris Eliopoulos and Jordie Bellaire’s adorable short about BB-8 playing matchmaker to a couple of resistance fighters is squee-inducing.
Like just about every other Star Wars comic book, Poe Dameron is a ton of fun and definitely worth the read, especially if you’re a fanatic like me. For more casual Star Wars fans who don’t have an extra $3.99 lying around every month, hey, there’s nothing wrong with being a trade-waiter. In the meantime, it’s not like you don’t have a ton of other amazing Star Wars fics to read or anything.
Alex Brown is an archivist, research librarian, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter and Instagram, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.