A review of Poe Dameron issues #1 and #2 by Stephen Vincent
Artist: Phil Noto
Writer: Charles Soule
The Story So Far:
30 years after the battle of Endor, General Leia Organa tasks her best pilot, the titular Poe Dameron, with the formation of a new strike team within the subset of the freedom-fighting Resistance. Poe must track down Lor San Tekka, an explorer who may help the Resistance find the missing Luke Skywalker. Poe, with his newly-formed Black Squadron, is led to an as-yet-unnamed planet to seek out the elusive explorer. Deep within the planet’s natural spires and caves, Dameron comes across a mystical cult calling itself the Crèche, whose mission is to care for an enormous blue egg said to contain their savior. Just as Poe brokers an uneasy truce with the cult, Dameron finds he’s been tracked to the planet by the First Order.
Agent Terrex of the First Order leads a squad of stormtroopers into the egg cult’s village. Terrex seeks to flush out Poe Dameron and gain whatever information he has that would lead the First Order to Luke Skywalker….
Since we’re only two issues into this four-part series, and I had not written a review for issue #1, I figured I’d lump it in here. If that seems a bit dismissive of that first issue, well, it would deserve it. The first issue falls flat on its face, HARD, and while both the writing and the art are good, they aren’t great.
Phil Noto’s line art is solid, his likenesses of the characters is dead-on, but his colors do this book a big disservice. Most of the canyons and terrain look flat and one-dimensional. Noto’s renderings of the starfighters in flight feel a bit stiff as well. You don’t get much sense of the tight spaces Poe’s flying in, or how dynamic his maneuvers have to be in these situations. Since Poe is, you know, a pilot, it’s important to be able to feel that from panel to panel.
Charles Soule’s writing, particularly on issue #1, was merely OK. It laid the necessary groundwork that an entry into a series has to have. The characters were introduced, they were set on their way, and danger was introduced. The characters are true to their on-screen counterparts, but perhaps a bit too on the nose. I can distinctly hear Oscar Isaac’s voice coming through in the dialogue. It’s the light banter we expect the from the pilot, but it actually clouds us from Soule’s tone for the series (upon which I’ll elaborate below). The best scene of the book is a bit of a flashback where we get to see General Organa brief Dameron on his upcoming mission–it’s serious and straightforward. Contrast that later in the issue where we encounter the Crèche and find out they worship a giant, blue, floating egg. This harsh change of gears was jarring to say the least, and left me with just one response: “Really!?!” As the issue wound down, not even the arrival of the First Order could pull this issue out of an intentional nose dive. I was always going to read the whole series, but definitely felt like it would be a chore. Then issue #2 came out.
While many of the problems I had with both the writing and art from the first issue are still present, they are definitely lessened in issue #2. Right out of the gate, Soule boldly proclaims his tone, and I’m completely on board with it. In the very first panel, Agent Terrex splashes into the series as the main antagonist. His pencil-thin mustach, and playful attitude with both underlings and prey is classic villany. If that mustache could be twirled, it would have been. His reaction to the Crèche and its giant blue egg is priceless, and a highlight of the issue. This series’ strong points overall continue to be the small flashback sequence where backstory is told. This issue focuses on Terrex and how he fits into the First Order. It is here we learn that he is a collector of sorts, not only of memorabilia, but of sentient beings as well. All of this housed on his starship, which is also a bit of memorabilia, that followers of all things canon will recognize from James Luceno’s Tarkin novel. The issue sadly ends predictably, where Terrex uses Poe’s sympathies for the egg cult to force him out of hiding. Poe and Terrex then engage in a game of “Who’s got better ‘leverage,’” and, of course, they threaten the stupid egg.
Although now halfway through the series, it seems unlikely we’ll get off this world (whichever world it is;I still don’t think we have a proper name for it). I really hope this blue egg has some massive payoff, either in laughs, or… well, the best they can hope for is something silly. Which I’m OK with, as the lighter tone of this issue really had me grinning while reading it, and if the flashback sequences are as solid in the next two issues, I might actually look forward to finishing out the series, instead of feeling obligated to do so.
Poe Dameron #3 is out June 8th.