Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Phil Noto
Backup by Chris Eliopoulous & Jordie Bellaire
Good times are ahead with Marvel’s release of Star Wars: Poe Dameron #1, which marks the comic company’s first published venture into the Force Awakens era. This is a baby step: Disney/Lucasfilm seems to be holding most of the details of the sequel era close to their chests, with the current canon only giving us the barest of glimpses into the new era and most of the media focusing on the classic periods. Still, with The Force Awakens now a few months old and Episode VIII inching ever closer, it seems like the right time for the comics to begin exploring this era.
Which is not to say we’re propelling past The Force Awakens just yet. Marvel’s original 1970s comic had the luxury of sailing past the open-ended Episode IV, and Dark Horse had some wiggle room to explore the galaxy after Episode I. Not so with this new book: Episode VIII purportedly will pick up immediately after The Force Awakens, so it’s doubtful we’ll be seeing what Poe did right after the film. No, Poe Dameron is playing it conservatively by showing us Poe’s mission just before The Force Awakens: to find Lor San Tekka, the old man Poe meets at the beginning of the film. In other words, the opening arc will bridge the gap between the novel Before the Awakening and the film.
Fortunately, Marvel has creatively stacked the deck on this one. On writing chores is Charles Soule, who’s already proven himself on the Lando and Obi-Wan and Anakin books (and making him the only comic writer to date to work in the Original, Prequel, and Sequel eras). Soule’s written a straightforward plot about Poe being sent on a very specific mission. In the course of 22 pages, he manages to work in action sequences, quiet moments, introduce us to the supporting cast, and develop a new alien species. For an introductory story in a standard-length comic, Soule manages to pack a lot into the story–a welcome treat where modern comics often seem to sacrifice prose for art.
Soule is excellently paired with Phil Noto, who has an excellent eye for both small details and panoramic shots. Honestly, Noto does a great job of pairing up big and small artwork together. For example, Poe’s entry into a strange alien base is presented on a splash page, but he’s worked in smaller panels around the larger image in order to allow the story to keep flowing. Additionally, he superbly captures the likenesses of the characters, so his Poe quite naturally resembles Oscar Isaac and Leia authentically looks like Carrie Fisher.
A backup story by Chris Eliopoulous provides a funny and very fitting story about BB-8 playing matchmaker between two Resistance members. This story’s clearly aimed at the kids, but adults will love the humor and overall adorableness of the story. Also, it’s nice to see Marvel finally allow a “cute” Star Wars story. Dark Horse did a number of them before the reboot, and it seemed like the new Star Wars canon was going to stay strictly serious. The backup suggests that won’t always be the case, and it’s a welcome change.
Poe Dameron represents a welcome first step into the new story era. While this initial arc is apparently going to play it safe–obviously, Poe is going to find Lor San Tekka at some point–it’ll be fun to see how we get there, and this will provide a welcome distraction until the comics can move past the events of Episode VII.
Rating: Five out of five X-wings.