"Black Squadron" in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON Vol. 1 by Charles Soule
Art 10
Characterization 8
Plot 7.5
Summary
STAR WARS: POE DAMERON is a fun prequel for the franchise's newest fan favorite.
8.5
Fast-Paced Space Adventure

This year marks the 40th anniversary since the release of the original STAR WARS film on May 25th, 1977. This month, writers at ComicsVerse will be bringing you our insights on all things STAR WARS as we look at where the series has been and where it will take us next in the galaxy far, far away…

The Space Race

The STAR WARS universe seldom disappoints, especially when it comes to creating memorable characters. In one of the latest STAR WARS comics, STAR WARS: POE DAMERON, the Resistance’s best pilot takes the lead. Poe became one of my favorites well before I read the first issue. His appearance in STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS left me wanting to know more about the ace pilot. “Black Squadron” in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON is the first volume of the series.

The story precludes the events just before THE FORCE AWAKENS, in which Poe and his team search for an essential piece of intel from Lor San Tekka. The Resistance isn’t the only one looking for information on Luke Skywalker’s whereabouts. Poe and company have to compete with Agent Terex, an officer of the First Order that the team can never seem to shake off. The plot of “Black Squadron” in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON VOL. 1 sticks to the standard STAR WARS formula. A mission or quest is introduced, and many conflicts stand in the way of its completion. There’s not much downtime, which makes the comic a quick and entertaining read.

Interesting Characters, New and Old

Writer Charles Soule has written for other STAR WARS comics, like STAR WARS: LANDO. Lando has been around for decades, so it’s much easier to write a character that already has a strong foundation. Writing such a new character is a challenge, but Soule hits the nail on the head when it comes to maintaining Poe’s charm. Like his first meeting with Kylo Ren in THE FORCE AWAKENS, Poe has no qualms bantering with his foes in “Black Squadron.” Even a Hutt is no match for his charisma. However, he’s nothing but chipper towards his teammates.

READ: Check out how Marvel’s DARTH VADER continues to connect the STAR WARS universe!

It’s refreshing to see a confident hero that doesn’t rely on hyper-masculine tropes. It’s too common for comics writers to man up a character, so it’s a relieving to know Poe’s movie characterization stays intact. Poe never underestimates the other pilots, despite his title as one of the most skilled pilots in the galaxy.

star wars: poe dameron
Image courtesy of Marvel Comics

Though this is Poe’s comic, he doesn’t completely overshadow the other characters. The comic shows a more tactical side to General Leia Organa, something the latest film doesn’t touch on much. I’d love to see more of her in the comic though because so far she serves mostly as a means of exposition. This is one of the reasons I took off points for plot and characterization. The dialog is one of the weaker points in “Black Squadron,”especially when it’s used to tell the reader everything that’s going on instead of showing it. As a visual art form, comics shouldn’t have to reiterate what is currently happening through speech.

Aside from some awkward dialog, I enjoyed meeting the new characters as well. THE FORCE AWAKENS only gives viewers a brief glimpse of the other pilots. Character backstories haven’t been fleshed out as much, at least in volume one. But you can see more of how the team interacts with one another according to their personalities. Hopefully, we’ll get to know them better as the series progresses.

Image courtesy of Marvel Comics

CLICK: Read the latest analysis of STAR WARS: THE LASY JEDI!

Out of This World Art

Artist Phil Noto’s illustration is what sold the comic for me. It’s recognizable but stays close to the Star Wars aesthetic. Noto’s art style is realistic but retains stylistic qualities. Some comic artists focus heavily online work, but Noto’s lines are more expressionistic and sketchy. He captures the likeness of the characters’ respective actors without sacrificing emotion or Oscar Isaac’s big beautiful eyes.

The colors are uniform throughout volume one as well, with a focus on teal, orange, and red. Teal and orange is a highly popular choice for color grading in movies, but for a good reason. The warm oranges pop beautifully against a cool blue background, especially the fighter pilot suits and BB-8. The muted blue is usually accompanied by intricately drawn, but not distracting, backdrops as well.

Image courtesy of Marvel Comics

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STAR WARS, Nothing but STAR WARS

STAR WARS: POE DAMERON fits into the rest of the universe quite well. Regarding style and tone, the series feels more like A NEW HOPE than the most recent films. ATTACK OF THE CLONES and REVENGE OF THE SITH get into “edgy” territory and thus lose the original appeal of the franchise. The original trilogy is a bit kitschy but endearingly so. It does have its dark moments, but it doesn’t leave fans feeling utterly hopeless. Of course, this aesthetic has to do with time period aesthetic as well.

The colors in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON mirror the orange pilot suits and bright blue lights in A NEW HOPE. Obi-Wan’s blue lightsaber, Leia’s message, and R2D2 are all blue and relate back to hope in some way. On the other hand, EPISODES 2 and three basically lose hope altogether as the colors transition to black and blood red.

THE FORCE AWAKENS brings the inspirational colors back. Though, orange tends to be more destructive and blue more somber, similar to ROGUE ONE’S use of the colors. Orange is the desolate landscape of Jakku, while blue is the cold and snowy forest where Rey and Kylo Ren duke it out.

Image courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd.

STAR WARS: POE DAMERON Creates Balance

STAR WARS: POE DAMERON may not be as nuanced as the STAR WARS films, but it maintains an energetic atmosphere that the prequel movies lost sight of. Right now it leans mostly on its moral attributes, which is to be expected from a family-friendly comic. As the entire franchise can attest, the best stories come from a balance of light and dark. Without one, the other has no purpose. THE FORCE AWAKENS is on the right track when it comes to this equilibrium, so hopefully, it can hold up.

“Black Squadron” in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON VOL. 1 is an excellent introduction to the series. The comic fills in the blanks before THE FORCE AWAKENS and gives more insight to Poe’s character. With a great cast of characters and stunning visuals, STAR WARS: POE DAMERON VOL. 1, I’m excited to see how the series pans out.

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