In Review: Poe Dameron #22

A change of pace for a Star Wars story that's very successful.

The covers: A pair to purchase on this exploit involving Black Squadron’s leader. The Regular cover is by Phil Noto and has Poe in his pilot’s outfit in the foreground. Behind him is his X-wing. Above that, and dominating the illustration, is a head shot of Terex, with his cybernetic implants clearly on display. Surrounding this series’ baddie are several Neimodians. This looks great, as does any illustration by Noto. The Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant cover is by Michael Del Mundo and features the Death Star exploding. This is a very interesting interpretation of this killing machine’s destruction, looking like blobs of water peeling off its frame. It’s done entirely in black and white. It’s undeniably striking, but this is not the way I’ve ever seen, or considered, this explosion. Overall grades: Regular A and Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant C

The story: The first two panels of this issue have Leia giving Black Squadron the details on her plan to rescue Lor San Tekka. The final two panels show Leia being escorted by Baron Maccon through his vaults on Cato Neimoidia as a potential storage space. Maccon suggests that she might enjoy watching the execution of thief that was caught earlier on the premises when an alarm goes off. A droid informs the baron that three unauthorized starships are approaching. The Neimodian orders fighters be launched, and then continues the tour. The ships are three members of Black Squadron providing a distraction for Poe, who’s been hiding somewhere the entire time. Faster than you can say “Ocean’s Eleven” this caper kicks into high gear. Charles Soule has crafted a fun story that’s outside the normal adventures of Star Wars characters. Also making it enjoyable is Leia’s briefing to the squadron which cuts into the action of the present. This allows the reader to see that Leia has planned out everything and no action of the heroes is random. Naturally, there is a complication from two characters who make a surprising and welcome appearance into the proceedings. I like this story, I like the inclusion of Leia in a major role, and I like that this is a different kind of Star Wars and Poe Dameron story. More, please! Overall grade: A

The art: Angel Unzueta is good. No, wait — scratch that. He’s really good. His likenesses of an older Leia are fantastic. His likeneses of all the human and alien characters from the film are outstanding. One can tell from the very first panel, with Leia speaking with Black Squadron, that the characters will strongly resemble their film counterparts. The emotions that Unzueta can create for the characters is fantastic. I know this is Poe’s book, but I was completely in love with every emotion from Leia, who spans the gamut from joyous to frustrated. When she smiles I felt my heart break just a little since Carrie Fisher’s passing. The settings on this book also look extremely good. The vaults look terrific, the Resistance consoles behind Leia are stunning, and the rocks on Cato Neimoidia’s exteriors excellent. Unzueta’s highly detailed backgrounds create a strong sense of realism for this book. There are also several pages involving fighters of several kinds and they, too, look smashing. Pages 4, 5, and 10 will have a reader’s jaw drop at all the ships on the page. The droids also look good, with BB-8 great and leaving me gasping at what happens to him on 19. But take a look at the bots that work for the Neimoidians: they are servers and enforcers. They look magnificent. That pretty much is the perfect word for this book’s visuals: magnificent. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Arif Prianto’s solidify the visuals’ reality. Look at the gorgeous sunlight in the first panel. It’s shining down upon Black Squadron as if they were blessed by the gods above. Look at the strong reds and yellows of the vaults. The way those crimsons reflect their colors onto Leia at this location are outstanding. I love the greens of the Resistance setting. The engines and laser blasts from the ships look extremely powerful in their luminescence. All of the sounds are strong with bright colors, which is something I wish all comics did. I’m loving Prianto’s work. Overall grade: A+

The letters: This issue’s text from VC’s Joe Caramagna includes scene settings, dialogue, sounds, droid speech and transmissions (the same font), BB-8 speech, and a yell. The sounds are good on this book, with them being large, which makes them sound strong. BB-8’s bleeps are a visual match for the character because they look cute. The yell at the end of the book has a spiky balloon around it and that makes it look odd. Why couldn’t the font have just been larger or in a different design? And as always, I’m not thrilled with the scene settings or dialogue. Overall grade: B

The final line: A change of pace for a Star Wars story that’s very successful. I love the caper, the focus on Leia, and the sensational visuals. Definitely a winning issue. Overall grade: A-

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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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