STAR WARS: POE DAMERON ANNUAL #1
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Penciller: Nik Virella
Colorist: Jordan Boyd
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release Date: 6/21/17
Poe Dameron might be the best pilot in the Resistance, but he’s the worst at taking orders. This bad habit gets him and BB-8 into trouble in Star Wars: Poe Dameron Annual #1.
Plot: Poe Dameron pursues a distress signal against orders from General Organa. While at the site Poe uncovers a secret plot from the First Order that could mean even more danger for the Resistance. Throughout the issue, readers see flashbacks exploring Poe’s relationship with General Organa.
Story: I have to start off by giving Robbie Thompson credit for writing a fun annual that a casual reader can pick up and enjoy without losing too much of the book’s flavor established by Charles Soule. There are some hilarious moments between BB-8 and Poe, and the ease of their relationship in the panels makes for a fun buddy action-comedy team up. BB-8 trying to help Poe and tricking the Stormtroopers also reminds us why we love that little droid so much.
As much as this issue is a fun adventure read, I appreciate that it also looks critically at Poe’s relationships. My favorite part of this issue had to be the scenes Poe shares with Leia. Learning more about Poe as a person is what makes this series such a great complement to the movies. We don’t just see Poe on adventures, he gains dimensions as a character. The dialogue here is brilliantly written by Robbie Thompson, playing off Poe’s reputation as the “best pilot in the Resistance.” We learn that with that reputation comes Poe’s cocky side, one that reminds Leia of another pilot she’s worked with (an obvious allusion to Han Solo).
Of course, Poe’s adventure pays off and they gather crucial intelligence about the First Order, but this all comes after Poe agrees to sacrifice his life for BB-8’s escape. Poe is flawed, but what makes him such a loveable character is his commitment to the Resistance. I hope we continue to see Poe as a multi-dimensional character throughout this run and other appearances in the Star Wars universe.
Art: Nik Virella, doing the art for this issue, uses a style that fits really well with the action-oriented nature of this issue. While the usual art for this series is much softer, Virella uses sharper lines and much more saturated coloring (done by Jordan Boyd). With this, you lose a lot of the subtlety and emotion usually found with this book. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough contrast between the action scenes and the one-on-ones with Poe and Leia to explore the subtext of these conversations. In previous appearances of Leia in this run, the relationship between the two shows clearly through the art.
This style does, however, shine during action scenes. When they’re floating in space, the punch of the details helps accentuate the danger of the setting and give it a 3D quality among the land mines.
And BB-8’s movements have a more urgent quality with the heavy lines paired with his bolded lettering. This complements the high-stakes nature of the plot and the art paces the action.
Verdict: This annual does a great job of building an easy to read standalone adventure, while still contributing to the ongoing plot to reward regular readers. If you just want a fun story without committing to the book, this annual is a great choice. The plot is fairly simple to understand without the background of previous issues, though Terex does play a larger role towards the end.
And while I think the emotional connection between Poe and Leia could have been explored more, there are still great bits of dialogue that gives the issue more depth among the excitement and explosions.