Star Wars: Poe Dameron Vol. 5: The Spark and the Fire by Charles Soule & Angel Unzueta
They certainly left the best for last, as this final instalment in the POE DAMERON series involves exciting new adventures, several important “gap fillers”, seriously beautiful artwork, and some much-needed development and introspection from our titular character.
Whereas the previous volumes have all taken place before The Force Awakens, this one jumps ahead to the aftermath of the battle of Crait, in which Poe, Finn and Rey (and BB-8 of course) are finally able to catch up on the Millennium Falcon. This means that until Episode IX comes out in December 2019, this comic contains the most recent chronological events in the saga.
It’s great to see our three leads finally interact with one another, and their warmth and witty banter makes me wonder (not for the first time) why on earth they had to spend the entirety of The Last Jedi in different subplots.
Seeing the chance to update the other two, Poe goes right back to when he was first sent to Jakku by Leia to find Lor San Tekka. We finally get to see how Poe survived the crash on the planet’s surface and his escape from the desert, as well as the events that led Black Squadron to Maz Kanata’s place to retrieve BB-8 and their reconnaissance mission to Starkiller Base.
Charles Soule is basically filling in some of the blanks from The Force Awakens, though sadly he doesn’t take the opportunity to explain how the First Order found out Poe was meeting with Tekka, or how Tekka found the map to Luke Skywalker in the first place. They’re details that were unimportant in the film, but finding these things out are practically the whole point of supplementary material! Ah well.
The Spark and the Fire then lets us know what Black Squadron was getting up to during the course of The Last Jedi: they were sent on a mission to recruit allies to the Resistance cause. This comes as something as a relief, since Snap Wexley and Jessika Pava were missing from The Last Jedi, leading to some speculation that they had perished.
Instead we see how they, along with Snap’s wife Karé Kun and former-journalist Suralina Javos travelled to various planets in order to recruit more fighters to the Resistance – with decidedly mixed results. (As it happens, Greg Grunberg is returning for Episode IX, so hopefully we’ll get to see the rest of Black Squadron too).
The Spark and the Fire is a fantastic gap-filler for anyone interested in some of the finer details of the sequel trilogy, which builds on some of the hard lessons learned by Poe (especially in The Last Jedi) and features artwork by Angel Unzueta that brings the characters to life extraordinarily well. In the case of characters that have already been brought to life by actors, Unzeuta even manages to capture their unique facial nuances and body language.
There are also lots of lovely details, from Leia thinking of Han, to Rey translating the books she took from the tree on Ahch-To, to a beautiful elegy to fallen soldiers shared between two unexpected characters, to Chewie and Nien Nunb fist-bumping. There’s also a final standalone story that takes place well before The Force Awakens in which Poe gets some help to steal an important artefact from under the First Order’s noses.
I know a lot of people felt burnt-out after seeing The Last Jedi, but the POE DAMERON comic book series gave me back some of my optimism.