In Review: Poe Dameron #11

A bridge issue that could have much shorter, but with superior visuals.

The covers: Five covers for you to fly off and find if you’re a hardcore fan. The Regular cover is a beauty by interior artist Phil Noto. This shows Poe in X-wing fighter gear, helmet on, in profile. He’s obviously speeding through space because Noto has placed some sweet speed lines on his helmet. Just cresting his visor is an X-wing in miniature, while behind it are several makes of different ships in hot pursuit. This image may be foreshadowing an event within the book. This looks terrific and the colors are sensational. I love the dark blue used for the background. There’s also a Textless Regular cover featuring the same art and if one is in love with the first cover, he or she will love this just as much. The next Variant is by Reilly Brown. Poe is in casual brown attire, holding his blaster with both hands and firing it to his left. Behind him is an enormous BB-8, with Snap Wexley behind the droid in a bust shot and an unknown Resistance pilot behind him in profile. This is good combination of images and the coloring is also good, but it’s a generic cover that could be placed on the front of any issue of this series and it would still be appropriate. I prefer covers that are specific to the stories. And is it me or does this look a lot like a Battlestar Galactica cover back when Marvel had the license? It sure has that feel. The Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant is by Michael Walsh and shows the iconic scene of the jawas carrying off Artoo-Detoo on Tatooine from the original film. This piece is framed in the same black and yellow starships that have graced the previous covers in this variant series. The jawas look great, Artoo solid, the mountains strong, but — WOW! — the coloring sells it. The rocky structures are violet and the sky a gorgeous sunset. The colors make this beautiful. Yet another cover I’ll have to track down. There’s even a Textless 40th Anniversary cover, not wrapped in the black and yellow border. This is also terrific. Overall grades: Regular A+, Textless Regular Variant A+, Brown Variant C+, Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant A-, and Textless Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant A

The story: After last issue’s events, Poe has to transport the spy droid, N1-ZX to the Resistance base. That’s exactly what the title character does this issue: he flies his ship as fast as he can. There are two other plots that take precedence this issue: what Oddy Muva is doing aboard Terex’s ship and what that antagonist is planning to do next. This is the logical progression of the story by Charles Soule, but it didn’t do much for me. Page 1 sets up what Poe is doing, but didn’t the first page sum that up for the reader? It came off as a wasted page. The second page goes aboard the Carrion Spike, Terex’s ship, to show the reader that Oddy is aboard and doesn’t know what he’s going to do next. This is followed by four pages of Terex speaking with a holographic transmission of Captain Phasma. Her inclusion in this story was unexpected and any appearance of her expands her character, which it needs after basically being an extended cameo in The Force Awakens. Their banter is good, but the conclusion to their conversation is predictable. The remainder of the issue has Poe figuring out how Terex has been following for the previous ten issues, why Oddy went onto that ship, and why Terex has been chasing Poe. The ending of the issue has all the players going to a new world. This is a bridge issue, filling in between Issues 10 and 12, but it could have been done in half the space to get to the ending. Okay, but nothing spectacular. Overall grade: C

The art: Regardless of the lackluster story, the visuals on this book are extraordinary. Phil Noto does the illustrations and the colors and he has become one of my favorite artists. The third panel on the first page is a perfect introductory shot of Poe, with him looking just like Oscar Isaac, and the colors terrific; look at the great shine on his helmet! Terex and his ship’s interior look outstanding. I love the use of reds throughout the ship, giving it a constant sinister look. Seeing Phasma was terrific and she looked just as she did in the film. I also liked the different shades of blues that colored her, echoing the holographic effects of those in the films and television shows. The blues employed to show the hyperspace background were also good. Pages 10 and 11 have a good action scene with a surprising character and Noto makes this individual look very heroic during the scuffle. The protagonist’s foe during this scene uses a blade that employs an electric current and it looks incredibly dangerous as it’s used. This sequence also has the only panels in the book where traditional panel layout is slightly skewed to make the action more intense and it works very well. The double-page splash on 14 and 15 is incredibly effective: first, it’s a dramatic reveal; second, the speed lines employed give a great sense of motion to the vessels; and third, it’s a great punchline to the dialogue that immediately proceeds it. There’s a brief space battle and Noto creates motion and explosions extremely well, especially with one ship changing its course and the damage it does and receives. Even if one is not a Star Wars fan, the beauty of Noto’s work is impossible to deny. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, BB-8’s speech, and transmissions are the contributions by VC’s Joe Caramagna to this issue. The dialogue continues to be too wispy on all Star Wars comics, with a stronger font needed to ensure that dramatic speech comes off as powerful. The banter that occurs on 10 and 11 looks weak, and it shouldn’t. However, the sounds on this book, including BB-8’s droid bleeps, are terrific. Though I do wish that there had been some sounds during the space battles. More times than not, Marvel’s Star Wars space scenes sound more like Joss Whedon’s Firefly than that of George Lucas’s creations. Overall grade: B

The final line: A bridge issue that could have much shorter, but with superior visuals. My opinion of this issue may rise, depending on how the next issue plays out. For now, this felt incredibly stretched out. Overall grade: B

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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