Review – Black Squadron Goes Hunting for The First Order’s Secret Weapon in Marvel’s Poe Dameron #27
Marvel’s Poe Dameron continues to give us a glimpse of what Rey, Finn, and Poe were up to immediately following the events of The Last Jedi. It’s given Poe a chance to let his new friends know exactly what he was up to when he disappeared for close to one-third of The Force Awakens. In this issue, we don’t only get a look at what he was up to, but what the rest of Black Squadron was doing as soon as The New Republic was decimated. Also, we get to see how some other Rebels aboard the Millennium Falcon are faring after the Battle of Crait.
So much to unpack here in these opening frames. After all, the climax of The Last Jedi happened so fast I didn’t even stop to think while watching to realize that this was the first time Leia had been on the Falcon since Han’s death. The weight of that is fully realized in these gorgeous frames by artist Angel Unzueta and colorists Arif Prianto and Rachelle Rosenberg. These first few frames could have been the issue all it’s own and I don’t think many fans would complain about it. Something that hasn’t been addressed enough in Star Wars (I feel) is how Force-sensitive beings deal with grief. Similar to how people who’ve lost loved ones often have vivid dreams after the passing, Leia actually senses echoes of Han. It’s interesting to see that all beings leave strong echoes in the Force, not just Jedi. I’m not sure if our fandom is ready for interpretation of the Star Wars Universe afterlife for those who don’t become one with the Force, but this is an interesting glimpse into how Force-sensitives can be affected by familiar surroundings of those they loved and lost. I loved this, as I’m sure you will too.
Chewbacca can tell what Leia feels, as I’m sure our Wookiee friend has been feeling it himself. Han might not be flinging lightning bolts at ancient Jedi temples from the beyond, but his spirit still very much reverberates in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. The exchange between them is certainly less said – but for those who have been through so much and lost so much, there are no need for words most times. An old friend comes to join them, with Leia taking her leave.
Well, this page speaks for itself. Pretty great to see that Chewbacca and Nien Nunb are buddies and happy co-pilots. I love that Leia mentions how he earned his co-pilot seat. I know this can be chalked up to fan service, but I’ll take it. For all of us that love these characters, all these Star Wars have served to bring us great little moments like these we might not get to see on the silver screen. Whatever role the Millennium Falcon plays in the Episode IX, I’d be excited to see Nien either helping fly it or take a gunner seat.
Our heroes are getting some downtime with a couple cold, Corellian ales. Pretty cool shoutout to Greg Rucka’s Shattered Empire series with Poe mentioning the Great Tree from the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. In case you don’t remember, the final issue of that excellent series concluded with Shara Bey (Poe’s mom) helping Luke retrieve the Great Tree from one of Palpatine’s secret facilities. The series concluded with she and Poe’s father planting it just outside their home on Yavin IV. Sounds like there may be a story there. The Great Tree was how Poe became aware of the Force, even if he’s not sensitive to it. It’s never really addressed how familiar Poe is with the Luke Skywalker legend and the Jedi – as these were both lore to Rey and Finn, so I’m very happy Poe’s acquainted with the Force. I wonder if Shara Bey ever told him about her time with Luke. Speaking of Force related things, notice that split lightsaber sitting on the table.
Well, Poe meets his first porg. Rey seems to be pretty happy that the porgs made it along with the rest of the Resistance. Leia checks in with Poe and lets him know they need to talk later, which is a conversation I’m excited to hear. Poe and Rey recall what happened on Takodana and joke about being torture buddies after suffering the hospitality of Kylo Ren. Poe seems to be getting a little loose with the ale, but who can blame him. The evens of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi pretty much happen back-to-back, so the Mad Max pace at which Poe and Rey have experienced these events makes it pretty incredible they didn’t just collapse from exhaustion as soon as they stepped foot on the Falcon. The conversation eventually turns to the fateful shot taken from Starkiller Base and how the Black Squadron responded.
If you were wondering how the Resistance got such detailed schematics of Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens, you’re about to have your questions answered. They were just as shocked as the rest of the galaxy when the First Order took out the New Republic. General Organa ordered an investigation right away, and Jess built a stealth ship that could get close enough to Starkiller Base to avoid detection. Snap is doubtful about the little craft – which is essentially a glider. Black Squadron has no idea what they are about to find.
Karé pilots an X-Wing, towing Snap in the glider, who she’ll drop once they reach Starkiller Base. This duo is incredibly brave, as they don’t really know what they’re walking into. It’s no Rogue One, but it’s still an interesing glimpse into what Black Squadron did while Poe was on Takodana leading a rescue. I have a great hope that Poe Dameron will morph into being more and more about Black Squadron and their stories. We know a lot about Snap, due to his family’s role in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath series, so I’d love to learn more about the others. With Dave Filoni’s Resistance coming, I have a feeling this series will help serve telling more stories connected to those characters, as well. All that said, I think it’s apparent to most who’ve been following my reviews of Poe Dameron that I’m a big Black Squadron fan.
Welcome back to Starkiller Base. The size of Starkiller Base is so outrageous that it’s hard to fathom how terrifying this must have been for the Resistance to see. Snap dives right in and gets to work, as both he and Karé know the Resistance is already pretty much out of time.
It doesn’t take long before Snap finds himself in a difficult situation. He’s getting too close to the base’s shield, and it’s starting to cook the little glider up. He’s not sure if he’s going to make it, so he’s doing the best to get whatever data he can. If you forgot, these two are married (Poe Dameron #25), so one partner watching the other put themselves in considerable danger adds a heavier tension to these frames. As things heat up, Snap’s not sure if he’s going to make it, so he proposes to just transmit the scans to Karé’s X-Wing.
Karé warns that if Snap transmits that amount of data, The First Order will detect it and their operation will be discovered. Due to the heat, the glider has been damaged and Snap says that even if he can make it back to her they won’t be able to get back. Karé is not as defeatist and remembers some tricks that Poe taught her. One aspect of this exchange that my cause some head scratching is that there’s no “You can’t die” heart-tugging coming from Karé, and I like that. I’m happy that writer Charles Soule didn’t feel it necessary to state the obvious: these two people love each other, but they’ve chosen to devote themselves and their partnership to a greater cause, and if one or both die it’s a calculated risk. It may seem cold to some, but it adds to the cold dedication members of Black Squadron harbor.
Karé uses the s-foils of her X-Wing to lock Snap into place, while declaring herself the best pilot in Black Squadron. She may be happy, but Snap is pretty shaken up. Now that he’s looked into the eye of the abyss, there’s no kidding about what the Resistance is up against. Now that they have the data, they need to come up with a plan, and no matter what it is, Snap knows the only way to stop the First Order is to destroy Starkiller. That won’t be easy, as we know.
It’s a pretty ominous ending, so I imagine we are going to get a much more intimate look at the assault on Starkiller Base. The assault on film had to happen pretty much and we didn’t really get a look at how each X-Wing taken out takes it’s toll on Black Squadron. We’ve seen in the twenty-seven issues of this series how tightly-knit Black Squadron is. Each loss is more than a few seconds of the exploding X-Wing we may see flying through the trenches, so it will be good for each of these characters to get their due in the larger story. I’d argue that the realism of war’s mortal cost was felt much heavier in The Last Jedi than I’ve felt in any other film, so I think the stories of how members of the Resistance cope with trauma would be valuable to the Star Wars Universe as a whole. Post-traumatic stress is a reality that many people live and it would be good to see that representation. It’s not all spectacle, there’s a very terrible cost.
Poe Dameron not only moves beyond where Sequel Trilogy has left off, but it’s doing a great job off providing better footing for fans still trying to figure out where the galaxy is. I’m not sure how far this is going to take us past The Last Jedi, but I’m pretty convinced by the end of this “The Awakening” arc we will know exactly what Black Squadron was up to during the Battle of Crait. We’ve had vague explanations so far, but maybe we’ll get a better idea of where the Resistance will end up before we rejoin them Episode IX. This is all spitballing and hypothesizing, but even if it doesn’t lead us to that point, I’m happy we get to spend a little more time with these characters, as well as Black Squadron.
This is a great issue. Writer Charles Soule continues to build upon the great characters that he’s had a skillful hand in helping flesh out. Soule is on quite a roll with in the Star Wars Universe and if you can get your hands on anything he’s written, you’ll be delighted. The team of artist Angel Unzueta and colorists Arif Prianto and Rachelle Rosenberg bring these characters to life as if they were onscreen. The art in this issue is really phenomenal, especially the opening pages. I can’t wait to see what happens when the action gets dialed-up. I’ve been forgetful and need to mention that the inaugural artist of this series, Phil Noto, has continued to deliver great covers. The cover of this issue is one of my favorites. The ensemble of writer and artists behind Poe Dameron continue to make it the most consistently great Star Wars comic title out there, in this reader’s opinion. Get your hands on these books now.