In Review: Poe Dameron #14

Only worth picking up for the reveal on the final page. Disappointing.

The covers: Thankfully there are just two covers to pick up this for this installment. The Regular cover is by Phil Noto and it’s a very somber image. A hologram of Black Squadron in happier times rests upon the black draped coffin of L’ulo L’ampar. It’s a good image and sets the tone for the story that’s to be found within. However, the coffin is almost half the illustration and makes the cover seem empty. The Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant is by Dave Marquez. This shows Han Solo confronting Greedo in the cantina. This is seconds before the Rodian will die. Marquez has tilted the image so that Solo is in the bottom left of the illustration, while Greedo is in the top right. This leaves much wasted space in the top left and Greedo is really dark, due to the light source being before him. This was a disappointing variant for such an iconic moment. Overall grades: Regular B and Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant C+ 

The story: This issue deals with the death of L’ulo L’ampar. At his funeral, Leia says a few words before allowing Poe to speak. He says all the right things, making his fellow Resistance fighters feel better. Meanwhile, in the Unknown Regions, Terex is being held aboard a Star Destroyer. He demands he be allowed to speak with Captain Phasma. She does visit him and their conversation changes his character’s direction. Charles Soule’s story starts strongly, with the funeral service, but takes a turn in the wrong direction with what happens between Poe and Leia — it was unnecessary. It comes across as really forced character growth. Better are the scenes with Terex and Phasma. This is due to the captain not having many appearances in the comics, and next to nothing in The Force Awakens, so anything that adds to her character is needed. She is an exceptionally strong presence and what she says and does to Terex is outstanding. This issue had me bored with Poe after Page 5, but looking forward to Phasma’s upcoming series. Overall grade: C-

The art: The visuals on this book are created by Angel Unzueta. His work is very realistic, with the key characters looking exactly like the actors who portrayed them in Episode VII. The issue opens dramatically with a full paged splash of L’ulo’s coffin on a small dais with Leia next to it. On the next two pages there’s a panel that stretches across Pages 2 and 3 and it was with this panel that I knew that Unzueta would be a good artist: the crowd that’s assembled for the service is full of unique characters, with none repeated. In addition to having them look very different from the individuals next to them, the characters are also in a unique stance. This makes all seem very believable because everyone would be standing differently at this ceremony. When Poe stands next to the coffin and speaks, Unzueta pulls in close to him, focusing primarily on his face. The artwork in these panels is very strong. There are two panels, though, that show his back and they do not look as well. Phasma’s reveal is very well done and her scenes with Terex are good. If any nit can be made of Unzueta’s work is that many panels have no backgrounds; it did become noticeable as I made my way through the book. To test this out I counted the panels and then counted how many had no backgrounds. 41% of this book has no backgrounds. That seems like a lot. Granted, much of that space is need for Soule’s dialogue, but I do prefer to see full backgrounds in comics. Overall grade: B+

The colors: This book has many panels that glow with colors. This is due to Arif Prianto placing light sources in odd places, making the light that falls on the characters very strong.  The first panel on Pages 2 and 3 has extremely bright light behind the attendees, yet when Poe speaks to the assembly, the light source is falling on the left side of his face, not the front (last panel on 3). The bottom of 4 has the light in front of him, but it’s changed position in the second panel on 5. Better is the coloring on the Star Destroyer. A mixed showing from Prianto. Overall grade: C

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna is responsible for the book’s dialogue, scene settings, stormtrooper voices, sounds, BB-8’s exclamation, and an augmented voice on the final page. I’ve always taken issue with the thin font used for dialogue, as it gives no strength to characters who need to be strong in their speech: see Phasma’s final words on 10. There’s a lot of dialogue in this issue and the text ends up covering some of the art (second panel, Page 10 and panel four, Page 11). This isn’t Caramagna’s fault, because Unzueta didn’t leave him enough space, but he could have had dialogue balloons go beyond the borders of the panels. The text seems really crowded. Overall grade: B-

The final line: The villains outshine the hero’s story, which peaks by the fifth page. Odd coloring and crowded dialogue doesn’t help. Only worth picking up for the reveal on the final page. Disappointing. Overall grade: C

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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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