In Review: Poe Dameron #9

A rescue mission has the book delving into a villain's past.

The covers: The Regular cover is by interior artist Phil Noto. Poe is back to back with See-Threepio, he’s holding his X-wing helmet, while the droid is holding a comlink. There’s a circle around the communication device and it’s connected by a line to five smaller circles which contain the portraits of different droids. It’s a great layout and a neat way to tell the reader that the droids are going to be playing a heavy part in this issue’s story. The artwork by Noto is, as always, superb. His likeness of Poe to Oscar Isaac is incredibly strong and, as shown by this cover, he’s able to capture the character’s swagger with a silent image. Excellent! The Variant cover is by Mike Hawthorne. This image shows Poe on D’Qar in his X-wing flight suit, holding his helmet. Behind him is his ship and faithful BB-8. This is an okay illustration, with it having a somber tone due to the light browns used for the background. Is it me, or are Poe’s hands bigger than his head? Overall grades: Regular A and Variant B-

The story: This is the second installment to “The Gathering Storm” by Charles Soule. Poe and Threepio are on Kaddak to rescue a droid operative. “But what they don’t know is that Terax is on Kaddak, too…” The pair arrive on the planet accompanied by BB-8 and Oddy Muva and witness how problems are handled on the world when they see someone fall from the top of the Sliver, the large building they’re on. Not one person notices the person plummeting to his death, prompting Poe to remind all of them, “This isn’t just another spaceport. It’s a bad place…” On Level 72 of the Sliver, Terax is making his way to a location when a street urchin tries to steal something from him. The former trooper whips around and grabs the child’s hand. The boy’s mother runs up and pleads, “He doesn’t know who you are!” Terax does something unexpected and walks off stating, “Now he does.” Talk about a villain’s first appearance! Wow! Writer Soule in two pages introduces Terax to the reader, shows his capabilities, and how he handles those who treat him poorly. That’s perfect writing! Where the villain goes creates a flashback which greatly enhances his backstory. I’ve been enjoying Terax in all his appearances, that if this character were to get his own series, I’d be more than willing to pick it up; after all, Doctor Aphra has her own book now. This backstory shows how Terax made the turn from stormtrooper to Imperial agent. Meanwhile some very familiar faces from The Force Awakens have a fun moment in the background of Poe and Threepio’s tale, but, sadly, the two lead characters don’t do too much this issue. Soule is setting the pair up for trouble in the issue’s next installment, and I’m okay with that. The history given on Terax is outstanding and this book looks like it’s inching closer to catching up to the chronology of Episode VII. Soule’s been aces on this book so far and I trust where he’s taking me. Overall grade: A

The art: Both artist and colorist of this issue, Phil Noto is an incredibly strong illustrator. The first panel outstandingly creates an alien environment that is both futuristic and classic Star Wars dirty, combining a rosy pylon that ascends into the sky covered by brown and tan platforms that the people of Kaddak live and work upon. The first panel of the second page is extremely dramatic and it creates a shock to the reader and a character. The second panel on this page has a good change in point of view that creates depth in the image to reinforce what’s just occurred. The look on Poe’s face at the bottom of the page shows pain and regret at the action, complimenting his dialogue. Terax’s two page introduction moves as smoothly as a film’s storyboard, set up in such a way to make every action and emotion stand out. When the story goes into flashback mode, Noto wisely tints the colors so that they’re brown, giving them an aged look, but he also rounds the corners of these moments, giving yet another visual cue to the reader that this part of the book is not set in the present. The third panel on Page 7 has got some incredible coloring that makes this moment look almost three dimensional. When the story returns to the present the colors go bright and the light green-gray really makes Poe and Threepio pop on the page. My favorite image of the book is unquestionably the full paged splash on 16. If a reader is fan of the Empire or tech in the Star Wars films, he or she will be gobsmacked by what Noto has created. Noto is a stellar artist to be working on a Star Wars book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, Threepio dialogue, a scream, BB-8’s communications, and a key sound for the final page are crafted by VC’s Joe Caramagna. The story doesn’t demand much of sounds in this issue, but when Caramagna is allowed to create a font different from the frail looking dialogue, it’s outstanding. Overall grade: B+

The final line: A rescue mission has the book delving into a villain’s past. A good read, which is inching up to The Force Awakens, and superior art. This will please Star Wars fans immensely. 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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