Tuesday, May 10, 2016

REVIEW: Poe Dameron #1-2


The Story So Far:

30 years after the battle of Endor, General Leia Organa tasks her best pilot, the titular Poe Dameron, with the formation of a new strike team within the subset of the freedom fighting Resistance.  Poe must track down Lor San Tekka, an explorer that may help the Resistance find the missing Luke Skywalker.  Poe is led to an as yet unnamed planet, to seek out the elusive explorer with his newly formed Black Squadron. Deep within the planets natural spires and caves, Dameron comes across a mystical cult calling themselves the Crèche, whose mission is to care for an enormous blue egg said to contain their savior.  Just as Poe brokers an uneasy truce with the cult, Dameron finds he's been tracked to the planet by the First Order.
Agent Terrex of the First Order leads a squad of Stormtroopers into the egg cult's village. Terrex seeks to flush out Poe Dameron and gain whatever information he has that would lead the First Order to Luke Skywalker....

Issue 1

Artist: Phil Noto

Writer: Charles Soule

Since we're only two issues into this first arc of the series, and I had not written a review for issue number one, I figured I'd lump it in here. If that seems a bit dismissive of that first issue, well, it would deserve it.  The first issue falls flat on its face, HARD, and while both the writing and the art are good, they aren't great.
Phil Noto's lineart is solid, his likeness' of the characters is dead-on,  but his  colors do this book a big disservice. Most of the canyons and terrain look flat and one-dimensional.  Noto's renderings of the star fighters in flight feel a bit stiff as well. You don't get much sense of the tight spaces Poe's flying in, or how dynamic his maneuvers have to be in these situations. Since Poe is, you know, a pilot, it's important to be able to feel that from panel to panel.
Charles Soule's writing, particularly on issue 1, was merely, "OK". It laid the necessary groundwork that an entry into a series has to have.  The characters were introduced, they were set on their way, and danger was introduced.  The characters are true to their on-screen counterparts, and perhaps a bit too on the nose. I can distinctly hear Oscar Isaac's voice coming through in the dialogue. It's the light banter we expect the from the pilot, but it actually clouds us from Soule's tone for the series, (which I'll elaborate on below). The best scene of the book is a bit of a flashback where we get to see General Organa brief Dameron on his upcoming mission, it's serious, and straightforward.  Contrast that later in the issue where we encounter the Crèche and find out they worship a  giant, blue, floating, egg. This harsh change of gears was jarring to say the least, and left me with just one response: "Really!?!"  As the issue wound down, not even the arrival of the First Order could pull this issue out of an intentional nose dive.  I was always going to read the whole series, but definitely felt like it would be a chore. Then issue 2 came out.



Issue 2

Artist: Phil Noto

Writer: Charles Soule

While many of the problems I had with both the writing and art from the first issue, are still present, they are definitely eased by the humor in issue 2.  Right out of the gate, Soule boldly proclaims states his tone for this series, something he seemingly forgot to do in the first issue.  In the very first panel, Agent Terrex blasts his way into the series as the main antagonist.  His pencil thin mustache, and playful attitude with both underlings and prey is some classic villainy.  If that mustache could be twirled, it would have been. His reaction to the Crèche and its giant blue egg is priceless, and a highlight of the issue.  This series' strong points overall continue to be the small flashback sequence where back story is told.  This issue focuses on Terrex and how he fits in to the First Order. It is here we learn that he is a collector of sorts, not only of memorabilia, but of sentient beings as well. All of this housed on his starship, which is also a bit of memorabilia, that followers of all things canon will recognize from James Luceno's Tarkin novel. The issue sadly ends predictably, where Terrex uses Poe's sympathies for the egg cult to force him out of hiding.  Poe and Terrex then engage in a game of "Whose got better 'leverage'", and, of course, they threaten the stupid egg. Despite the telegraphed ending, it was still an enjoyable read, and worth your time. 

Final Thought

Although now halfway through the series, it seems unlikely we'll get off this world (whichever world it is, I still don't think we have a proper name for it). I really hope this blue egg has some massive payoff, either in laughs, or... well, the  best they can hope for is something silly. Which I'm OK with, the lighter tone of this issue really had me grinning while reading it, and if the flashback sequences are as solid in the next two issues, I might actually look forward to finishing out book 1, instead of feeling obligated to purchase it because, you know, Star Wars.