Happy May the Fourth! Our increased look into the galaxy that is Star Wars circa The Force Awakens this week continues with Marvel’s Poe Dameron #2. Right off the bat, I will say #1 is required reading if you are going to jump in. Hard Case has a great review of it here. The issue is stellar and you’d be wise to add it to your Star Wars collection. Beware, SPOILERS AHEAD…
At the end of the last issue, we left Poe in the midst of his search for Lor San Tekka, the key to finding Luke Skywalker. Poe and his Black Squadron ended up on a still unnamed planet amongst a monastic settlement of beings called the Crèche, who dedicate themselves to a massive egg. Yes, you really should read issue #1 or take a look back, because those two sentences skirt over some more interesting moments. After Poe has first made contact, he discovers he’s not the only one after Lor San Tekka’s knowledge. The First Order, lead by a new character called Agent Terex, is not far behind the Resistance pilot.
Agent Terex strikes me as a cocky and flamboyant officer who is absolutely sinister. I hope Walking Dead fans don’t pelt me with tomatoes and rotten eggs for saying this, but there is something Negan-esque in his appearance and tone (sans the potty mouth, obviously). The fact that he enjoys toying with those weaker than him, doing horrible things, and always with a grin and a chuckle the entire time. Those kinds of villains always make my skin crawl, so I guess Agent Terex is doing his part in the story. He and his band of Stormtroopers arrived to question the Crèche about where Poe is. It turns out they are after Poe specifically, as you will catch a note by writer Charles Soule and the Lucasfilm Story Group to read-up on Poe’s story in the Before the Awakening novel published this January.
Agent Terex took this assignment from none other than the chrome trooper herself, Captain Phasma. During a flashback we get a glimpse inside Terex’s personal ship, the Carrion Spike (if that name sounds familiar, hold that thought), and I got the sense he is something of a casual servant of the First Order. Phasma clearly has no respect for him, and Terex hints her feelings are shared with General Hux. Terex mentions he was once a Stormtrooper in the Empire, but you can see in the above frame First Order loyalists aren’t too keen on being compared with their Imperial predecessors. Very interesting. I assumed that the First Order held the Empire in high-regard, but I guess it makes sense they would see their defeat by the Rebellion as weakness. I’d suggest we keep our collective eyes and ears open for more of this disdain for the Empire via First Order elites. It made me think back to the end of Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars, where defeated Imperial officers looked forward to the moment they would rise again, only stronger.
Terex’s ship, Carrion Spike, may sound familiar to you. That’s because, if you’ve been keeping up with your reading, it was the personal ship of none other than Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin (it appears in James Luceno’s 2014 novel, Tarkin). From Terex’s ample amount of vices he has filled the late Moff’s ship with it, it’s safe to say the agent has converted it into his personal ship to do what he will until the First Order needs a job done. Terex’s information is what seems to keep him useful to the First Order and well compensated. I wonder what Tarkin would think of his ship’s fate.
As Terex prepares to turn up the heat on the helpless Crèche, we meet our hero who has been hiding out in the shadows, waiting for his next move. Remember, the Black Squad, the finest pilots in the Resistance, are waiting to hear from Dameron for their next move. Making a quick decision, Poe decides to get some leverage. The Black Squad takes this to mean they destroy the small, First Order ship that Terex and his Stormtroopers came from. Another interesting insight is the Resistance pilots mention they are NOT allowed to engage First Order ships unless they are fired upon. Sounds like there was a very hostile sort of cease fire in place before The Force Awakens. These Resistance fighters decide if they can’t bring battle to the First Order, let the First Order bring the battle to them.
L’ulo, who I hope you remember flew with Poe’s mother Shara Bey during and post the Battle of Endor in Shattered Empire, takes matters into his own hands. To prevent the First Order from identifying him as Republic or Resistance, he begins buzzing the First Order pilots in his A-Wing. I guess X-Wings are the official ships of the Republic/Resistance. After a possibly not-so-accidental firing of his blasters that launches TIE retaliation, Black Squadron finishes the TIE Fighter carrying vessel.
Poe reveals himself to Terex, as soon as he has word that the First Order back-up is out of the picture. Poe offers up a stalemate of sorts, insisting the two adversaries figure out a way to talk through this. Terex, slimy as ever, has his Flame Troopers ignite their weapons and take them to the Crèche’s sacred idol, the giant egg. It would seem that Poe and his Black Squadron underestimated how much resources the First Order is pouring into their hunt for Luke Skywalker. Speaking in terms of Star Destroyers….
Bravo to writer Charles Soule and artist Phil Noto on another great issue! This issue builds upon the excitement that #1 started, and we Star Wars fans are given a little bit more context of the galaxy’s political climate before TFA‘s opening crawl. Soule manages to keep the momentum of this story going, despite the flashback, and set us up nicely for the third. Noto’s art is something I’m a sucker for, but I don’t think my bias overstates that he gives us a warm, Star Wars feel with his colors and lines. The disaster that was the Chewbacca series only had one thing consistently in the plus column for me and that was Noto’s work. I’m very happy Marvel put him on this series.
You really don’t have a reason NOT to be reading the Poe Dameron series. It’s a great prologue to the events of TFA. The art and writing are among the best of the SW comics so far. Plus, Poe will certainly have a role to play in the next two films of the Sequel Trilogy, so it wouldn’t kill you to get to know him a little better. Something tells me he will have a huge roll in Episode VIII. Why not get to know Poe Dameron a little bit better before that curtain goes up in 2017?