Review: Poe Dameron #1
“Poe Dameron #1 does a lot in terms of backstory and set-up for what’s to come later down the line in the series. However, that heavy lifting seems incredibly light and accessible in Soule and Noto’s capable hands.”
Poe Dameron #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Phil Noto
Release Date: Wed, April 6, 2016
It’s easy to see why Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Poe Dameron, portrayed by actor Oscar Isaac, has developed the fan following that has swelled since he first hit the silver screen in December. While we know that the X-wing pilot fights on the side of light for the Resistance against the First Order, viewers didn’t learn an abundance about Poe. That mystery, coupled with the charming performance that Isaac gave when onscreen, created a fervor for fans dying for more. Tumblr users began ‘shipping Poe with Stormtrooper-turned-hero Finn, based on their budding bromance and penchant for sharing outerwear. The Resistance fighter, who appears to be equal parts old school Luke and Han, was a hit.
I don’t know if Disney or Marvel Comics knew the degree of the positive reception fans would have to Poe or had already planned a miniseries around him ahead of time. Regardless, it was a smart move on their part to give Star Wars fans a little more of a taste of what we can expect to see of the character in later films with the launch of writer Charles Soule and artist Phil Noto’s Poe Dameron #1, which went on sale this week.
At the beginning of The Force Awakens, we first meet Poe on a mission given by General Leia Organa to find Lor San Tekka, who might know the location of her brother Luke Skywalker, who’s been missing for years. In the first issue of Poe Dameron, we see Leia give Poe that mission and meet the members he’s chosen for his Black Squadron of X-wing fighter pilots who’ll accompany him. Poe’s intel leads him to a group of religious devotees who once communed with Lor as they protect a large, ethereal egg that may or may not hold a savior. Poe hopes to get some notion of where Lor might be, if the evil First Order doesn’t stymie those plans.
First of all, credit where credit’s due to Soule, who doesn’t exactly have a forgiving task placed on his shoulders. Spinning yarns of any licensed properties—particularly ones like Poe, whom we barely know—has to be a sometimes thankless task. While I don’t know for certain, I imagine that he has to tread carefully to make sure that whatever tales he tells are engaging and revealing without stepping on any story development we might learn in later Star Wars films. With Poe Dameron #1, we don’t necessarily get any character development with Poe yet—the story is largely set-up, as first issues usually are—but what Soule does give us is Poe’s cock-sure, can-do attitude that made the character such a joy in the film. Poe is all confidence without being an ass about, which is a refreshing take on cockiness and competence we don’t see that much in literature and film. Soule recognizes that and puts it on full-display in an authentic way, from how he speaks with Leia to how he interacts with droid BB-8, who’s back for the ride.
Noto’s skill with the pencil ensures that we’ll see the glint in Poe’s eyes as he goes off to perform his derring-do or attempt to charm information out of a group of people. Let’s just get it out of the way: Actor Oscar Isaac is a pretty man. Noto has been adding using his illustrator’s wand for years to etch a sense of beauty onto the faces of comic book characters for years, respecting those characters’ innate humanity while letting their own unique attractiveness shine through. While Noto might not have had to use any magical artist dust to pretty-up Poe or Leia, that sensibility lets everyone from the members of Black Squadron to the guardians of the egg pop off the page. That knack for character layouts an a seeming ease in detailing manic action in a pleasing way—look for his work on Black Widow for further examples—and it’s clear why Marvel thought Noto would be a good fit for this book.
Poe Dameron #1 does a lot in terms of backstory and set-up for what’s to come later down the line in the series. However, that heavy lifting seems incredibly light and accessible in Soule and Noto’s capable hands.
Poe Dameron #1, written by Charles Soule with Phil Noto on art, is on sale now from Marvel Comics.