Review by Jamie McNeil
The insidious First Order is gaining momentum throughout the galaxy. The only defence is General Leia Organa’s Resistance movement, and her top man is Poe Dameron, the best pilot in the galaxy and leader of a crack group of pilots called the Black Squadron. In Black Squadron, Poe made a ruthless enemy of Agent Terex of the First Order Security Bureau. When Poe and Threepio head to the lawless planet Kaddak to retrieve an operative with important intel, Poe’s mind is elsewhere. It seems there is a traitor in the Black Squadron feeding plans to Terex, and Poe isn’t taking this well. He has known many of the Squadron for years. They’re more than friends, they’re family. But how can you try to save the galaxy when you can’t trust your family? Poe reckons it’s a sure bet Terex will be working behind the scenes on Kaddak. If only he knew how much.
It wasn’t obvious that Charles Soule was using Vol.1 to build the basis of quite the engaging story. When Poe Dameron was introduced in The Force Awakens, there didn’t seem much to him. He came across as a straightforward, yet very confident pilot. Soule doesn’t exactly deepen his character, rather building on Oscar Isaac’s portrayal of Poe. What you see is what you get. He’s a born soldier who leads by example. He inspires loyalty by taking people at face value, giving them a chance. People follow or co-operate because they quickly see he is prepared to sacrifice himself to help them. He believes the best in everyone, something he knows is both weakness and strength. He’s a self aware thrill seeker whose confidence borders on arrogance. It makes him a far more likeable character than his brief intro.
Artist Phil Noto works with this, instilling Poe with a good guy bearing. His action scenes are far more dynamic than in Vol. 1, and his characters look great, but apart from Poe they lack emotion. When tragedy hits, you simply don’t feel its full effect on the cast. The irony is that the droids carry a real charming, often humorous aspect to them. In fact anything mechanical looks pretty awesome but it’s faces of sentients that need to sell the drama. Despite this, it’s still a pretty good yarn. The predictability of Vol. 1 is something of a smokescreen. You think you know what’s going to happen, but there are a surprising number of twists and turns to the narrative. Soule’s intelligent setups blindside you, piquing interest again and again. He suggests a far more sinister side to the First Order, a very subtle commentary on modern politics. Once the penny drops, the point he’s making is almost obvious and oh so tantalising, but no spoilers! It all makes for a compelling read.
Soule’s and Noto’s blend of story and visuals have made the Poe Dameron series quite the tale, and have established Dameron as a surprisingly interesting character. A new artist for Vol. 3: Legend Lost changes the dynamic.