In Review: Poe Dameron #20

A decent character issue before Black Squadron gets their next mission.

The covers: A twosome to seek out as if you’re looking for the location of Luke Skywalker. The Regular cover is by Phil Noto. Poe is dead center with his trademark jacket on, turning to his left after hearing something. His pistol is held ready in his right. Behind him are two large images of a pair of important individuals: General Leia Organa and Lor San Tekka. Leia’s pose, with her chin thoughtful on her chin is great and Tekka looks at the reader wisely and ominously. I love the coloring on this, too. The Star Wars 40th Anniversary cover is by Brian Level & Jordan Boyd. This is a neat way to get two images for the price of one: Level has split the image with a white silhouette of an X-wing. Above the fighter, the Rebel pilots are shown scrambling to their ships, while below the ships are shown flying toward the Death Star. I like the top image the most because of the amount of detail in it. The bottom illustration looks fine, but it’s the backside of the fighters, not exactly thrilling visuals. The top image also allows more opportunities for different colors from Boyd. Overall grades: Regular A+ and Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant A-

The story: In the Colonies Region at Cato Neimoidia a group of tourists is entering the palace that belonged to Lot Dod. Their guide gives the expected information about the Trade Federation and its fall. Inside the structure the group is told of the vaults that were used at this location. It’s at this point that one of the tourists drops several small discs on the floor which reveal themselves to be small droids. This individual stands back from the group, using a personal cloaking device to mask his absence. Once he’s left alone he follows the path his droids took and, entering another room, finds two Neimoidians tied up on the ground. Remaining masked, he leans to one of the guards and says, “If you could hear me, I’d tell you not to fear — I’m not here to steal anything. I just want a look. One quick look. I tried the proper channels, but I was rebuffed. This seemed like the only way…” He finds what he’s looking for and then something happens. The story then moves to the secret base of the Resistance, seen in The Force Awakens. Here, Poe Dameron learns something about BB-8, See-Threepio discovers something, Snap and Karé have a painful discussion, Jess and Zari have a conversation, as do Admiral Statura and General Solo. After this character catch up, the beginning of this book is brought up and has Black Squadron off on their next mission, which looks as if it will directly lead to Episode VII’s start. A decent character development issue from Charles Soule, but I’ll admit to being anxious to return to the opening plot. Overall grade: B

The art: The grandeur of the first four pages is outstanding work. To see the opulence that Lot Dod lived in is amazing. Angel Unzueta has done a spectacular job on this book’s settings. He also does a good job with the movement of the droids in this setting and their master slinking about in the shadows. The reveal of whom this character is is also good, with those familiar with the franchise recognizing him before his name is spoken. Unzueta’s Poe Dameron looks great. Any reader looking at this book’s art will recognize him, and the other familiar faces instantly. That says much about Unzueta’s skill as an artist. I also appreciate that he can draw these characters from any angle without doing the same two or three sides of the character as is often done in comics. He also gets some good emotion out of the droids in this book. That, too, is an impressive feat since the characters have no moving faces for them to emote. By posing the droids certain ways, I was able to discern their states before they spoke or beeped. The best two pages of the book focus on Snap and Karé. The story has this as an artist’s nightmare: two characters sitting at a table having a conversation that becomes heated. Notice how Unzueta moves the point of view around to make the discourse grow in tension. I really like the panel focusing on the pair’s hands to show their discomfort. This is good visual storytelling. There’s a solid visual joke on 14 that has Threepio humorously leaving the scene before the verbal punchline. Very cool. The book ends with a full-paged splash that had me thinking of the ending of both Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan films. It fit the story and I liked it. I’m enjoying all that Unzueta brings to this book. Overall grade: A

The colors: The book starts with some sickly greens for Cato Neimoidia, which is what one would expect for the green aliens. However, the interiors of their structures are brilliant in reds and gold to show the wealth that the Trade Federation accumulated when it was at its prime. Hyperspace only appears in two panels but is a beautiful shade of blue that I wish other books employed. Snap and Karé’s scene has them standing out due to their orange suits against the pale macaroon cream (Yes, I did look it up) background.The greens used for the exteriors of the Resistance base are much healthier looking than those used at the beginning. Reds return powerfully for the book’s conclusion and they look awesome. I’m enjoying Arif Prianto’s work on this. Overall grade: A+

The letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna creates this issue’s scene settings, dialogue, sounds, droid speak, BB-8’s speech, and an astromech’s speech. This has some of the most varied sounds I’ve encountered in a Star Wars comic in some time, and there’s no monstrous action scene in this issue! I was pleased to see all the varied droid sounds, be they beeps or speech, making them feel so much like their screen personas. There are also a few sounds, due to the opening scene, and they look great. Again, I wish Marvel would let Caramagna insert more sounds into the Star Wars books because he’s more than capable of doing so. I’m still not a fan of the dialogue font, this is my continual beating-a-dead-horse moment in my reviews of this franchise, but a different font would make the dialogue stronger. Overall grade: B

The final line: A decent character issue before Black Squadron gets their next mission. I enjoyed the opening sequence much more than the scenes with the Resistance, but even those weren’t terrible. The visuals are strong, with all the familiar faces looking just like their big screen inspirations. Again, a decent issue. 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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