Since Marvel Comics regained the comic book rights to the Star Wars franchise several years ago, they’ve focused almost exclusively on the original trilogy era. However, with the massive success of last year’s Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, it was only a matter of time before the new film’s characters began appearing on the comic book page. This week Marvel released their first series based on a Force Awakens character, Poe Dameron, starring the ace fighter pilot played by Oscar Issac in the film. The book has heavyweight talent behind it, with Marvel enlisting veteran pros Charles Soule and Phil Noto as writer and artist respectively.
Set a bit before the film, the first issue begins with Poe Dameron piloting his X-Wing fighter through a dangerous cavern, much to the consternation of his trusty astrometric droid BB-8. The issue flashes back to General Leia Organa assigning Poe to locate an explorer named Lor San Tekka, whom she believes has knowledge that will help find her brother Luke Skywalker. Poe enlists a group of Resistance pilots including Snap Wexley, Jess Pava, L’ulo and Kare Kun to accompany him, naming them Black Squadron.
Coming back to the present, Poe has maneuvered his way through the caves and landed at a seemingly abandoned outpost, finding nothing but a giant blue egg. When he approaches the egg however, he’s ambushed by a group of armed settlers bent on protecting it. He tries to explain that he’s only there to find Tekka, but the group offer no help. Things only get worse when BB-8 finds a tracking device on the X-Wing, and Poe realizes the First Order have followed them, ending the issue on a dramatic note.
Truth be told, Poe Dameron was my personal favorite new character in The Force Awakens, so I had very high expectations going into this issue. I’m happy to report that the issue more than lived up to said expectations. Soule is able to translate the innate charm that Issac brought to the character on film to his version of Poe Dameron, which makes for a very entertaining read. He also crafts a story that not only feels like Star Wars (which is easier said than done, as proven often in licensed comics) but also sets itself up to fill in the blanks on Lor San Tekka, the character played by Max Von Sydow in The Force Awakens.
Phil Noto’s art is well suited for this book. His photo-realistic art style is effect for adapting live action properties, as evidenced by looking at his spot-on renditions of Poe Dameron, Carrie Fisher’s Leia, and Greg Grunberg’s Snap Wexley. Noto also does a better job than most at capturing the classic, “lived-in” look of the Star Wars universe.
Poe Dameron is easily my favorite first of a Star Wars comic that Marvel has released over the last few years. It does a better job than most at capturing the actual look and feel of one of the films, and I would heartily recommend it to fans of the franchise.