Star Wars: Poe Dameron Vol. 1: Black Squadron by Charles Soule & Phil Noto
There’s so much STAR WARS-related content out there at the moment that it’s difficult to know what’s worthy of your time and energy and what isn’t. For those that are specifically interested in the latest STAR WARS sequel trilogy and the character of Poe Dameron (played by Oscar Isaac), then Charles Soule’s STAR WARS: POE DAMERON series of comics serves as a direct lead-up to The Force Awakens, gathering up characters and plot-strands that drive the 2015 film.
It’s been thirty years since the defeat of the Empire in The Return of the Jedi, but the First Order has slowly but surely risen to take its place. So far though, the threat it poses has not been recognized by the rest of the galaxy, and General Leia Organa’s warnings have been ignored. In anticipation of the First Order’s growing power, Leia has founded the Resistance and recruited several promising young pilots — including Poe Dameron.
Taking a few steps back from the start of The Force Awakens, Black Squadron gives us a chance to see the infancy of both the Resistance and the First Order, their relationship to the Rebel Alliance and the Empire, their goals and motivations, and their relationship to the rest of the galaxy — details that the film simply didn’t have the time to explore. It’s fascinating to see each one in their early years, still sorting out what they stand for and why they exist, and the way they’re both organized and operated from the inside.
The search for Luke Skywalker has begun by individuals on both sides, which first must start with the hunt for Lor San Tekka, an intergalactic explorer (seen briefly at the start of The Force Awakens, as played by Max von Sydow). Leia commands Poe to put together a squadron to find him, leading us to the introduction of the five pilots that make up the comic’s title — two of whom also appear in the film itself.
Their search leads them to a mysterious planet inhabited by an equally mysterious cult, and then to a high-security prison where they have to use all their wits to negotiate the prisoner/warden power structures that run the place. There’s the daredevilry and camaraderie you’d expect from any STAR WARS film, along with an effective villain in the form of Agent Terex, a former Imperial who is skeptical about the way the First Order is run.
Black Squadron serves as a fitting lead-up to the events of The Force Awakens, and for those that didn’t like Poe’s characterization in The Last Jedi, also helps better establish him as an impulsive, hot-headed pilot whose tendency to ignore orders and break rules could certainly have repercussions down the line.
This collection also includes a mini-comic in which BB-8 plays matchmaker among two Resistance recruits. It’s cute.