Star Wars: Poe Dameron 10

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Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Star Wars: Poe Dameron 10, originally released January 11th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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Michael: In the beginning there was Star Wars and it was good. Then came The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and eventually what would be known as “The Expanded Universe.” The original Star Wars films are classic stories of good vs. evil that served as the groundwork for the countless novels, comic books and video games that The Expanded Universe built on. Marvel has made it very clear that EU no longer exists within their Star Wars realm. But the current Poe Dameron arc “The Gathering Storm” has a lot of that EU spirit – specifically in the series’ antagonist, Agent Terex.

I will admit that I wasn’t very impressed by Agent Terex in the opening chapters of Star Wars: Poe Dameron – he just seemed like another evil prick trying to thwart the heroes in the Star Wars galaxy. In the past few issues, however, Charles Soule has peeled back the layers to reveal a man who faced an existential crisis in the wake of the Empire’s destruction. Terex went from loyal soldier of the Empire to criminal warlord to agent of The First Order, and in Star Wars Poe Dameron 10 he is something of a combination of all of those things.

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Soule depicts Terex as a man who has gone through a loss of a faith, a crushed idealism. In the flashbacks we see him clinging on to one last chance to bring back the glory of The Empire. Once he learns that his companions don’t share his vision he realizes that goal of Imperial restoration might be impossible. We all have a particular vision of how the world works and often times that worldview – idealistic or cynical – can be disproven and come crashing down. It could be something simple as a child learning that there is no Santa Claus or an adult learning that his or her friends aren’t who they thought they were. It looks like Terex has gone through two such moments of crisis: after the fall of The Empire and after re-assembling his gang “The Rancs.”

I’m not an Expanded Universe expert, but I like the idea of it. The battle between good and evil presented in the Star Wars films is a compelling one – but at it’s a core, a very simple one. Like the Expanded Universe, Star Wars: Poe Dameron is taking that simplistic battle of good vs evil and making it a little more complicated. The Force Awakens is an entertaining movie, but it suffers from an overwhelming lack of specifics. We don’t really get the sense of what makes The First Order drastically different from The Empire; like Kylo Ren, The First Order seems like a bunch of Empire fanboys.


Though not explicit, we get a better understanding of the inner-workings of evil in the Star Wars galaxy through Terex’s perspective. After Terex accepts that the Empire is truly gone he becomes a criminal. After he joins up with The First Order he soon learns that they’re not the Empire Part II. After he has his little epiphany there’s a telling line of dialogue from Terex to one of his lieutenants:

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Star Wars is simplistic in the struggle between good and evil but there are still varying shades of evil. There’s always been a division among The Empire/First Order, the Sith/Force users and criminals. They all want similar goals but there are certain things about one another’s philosophies that they don’t respect. Terex is a criminal in the eyes of The First Order but if he can give them and “that freak Kylo Ren” the end of the Resistance then it’s a win for all the baddies.

Mark I feel like Poe Dameron has finally found a compelling story that doesn’t rely so much on the plot of The Force Awakens – what do you think? I’m also a big fan of C-3PO being in charge of his “network of operatives.” Do you like seeing him in a more active role? And is Oddy the First Order spy or is that too obvious?

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Mark: Writing in the OG Expanded Universe (now called Legends) must have been incredibly liberating after a while. As the Star Wars universe kept expanding and the original trilogy retreated further and further into the background of the EU, creators had great leeway in telling their stories without fear of upsetting established canon. Charles Soule and other creators working in the current, rebooted Star Wars EU are constrained to much tighter parameters— parameters that are tied much closer to the films. It has to be an often difficult line to tow; there’s a lot of freedom when writing Momaw Nadon, for example, that isn’t afforded when writing Han Solo.

Much of Poe Dameron 10 is devoted to Agent Terex, and Terex’s characterization and motivations hit that sweet spot of enriching the world of Star Wars without feeling like a retread of what we’ve seen in the films. Terex is, frankly, a much more compelling character to follow at the moment than Poe Dameron. Dameron was pretty ill-defined in The Force Awakens outside of “Ace Pilot #1,” but a lot of his thin characterization was forgiven thanks to the force of personality of Oscar Isaac. Without that charisma, the Dameron of the comics is harder to love. The Poe Dameron book hasn’t done much to deepen our understanding of Dameron, and when he’s backgrounded for the majority of the issue you don’t really notice that he barely features in his own comic.

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You can tell Soule has more fun writing for a stronger voice like C-3PO. It has to be hard when writing a well established character like C-3PO to not have the comic version feel like a simulacrum of the real thing. What C-3PO sounds like is so engrained in my brain that it’s easy for me to come up with my own head canon about what is “right” or “wrong” for C-3PO to do and say (for better and for worse), and trying to write a C-3PO that agrees with every fan’s individual version of the character is a thankless task. But, for my money, Soule does a good job of capturing the idealized C-3PO voice here. Watching C-3PO command his network of droids was a new feat, but one that still feels in-character.

Like I’ve mentioned in the past, Poe Dameron and all of the other Star Wars books are at their best the further they get away from the movies. Striking the right balance between telling an original story and strict fidelity to the source material is difficult when dealing closely with the films, and, honestly, the payoff is rarely worth the effort. Poe Dameron 10 shows the potential of a story based around a new character, with secondary appearances by established film heroes to pay the bills.

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For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?

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7 comments on “Star Wars: Poe Dameron 10

  1. The lack of specificity in the Force Awakens is incredible, isn’t it? Star Wars Episode 8 is basically going to have to do all the world building that Force Awakens should have done, even as it deals with the aftermath of Force Awakens. Force Awakens is a great roller coaster, but it is unsurprising that this book gets better the further away from the movie you get. True in general, but especially with TFA.

    • TFA was definitely more worried with shoring up its legitimacy by connecting itself to the original trilogy than it was being its own movie. That might be a smart move for a movie that nobody really expects to stand on its own, anyway. But that definitely means none of the new characters got to do more than roughly establish their type. Like, it’s still kind of surprising to me that people had any connection to Poe based on that movie — he’s absent from the bulk of the action, enough that Han and Leia arguably have bigger roles than he does.

      • If you are going to rip off a George Lucas movie for your Star Wars film, Temple of Doom is hardly the worst choice. Temple of Doom is a masterpiece for what it is. Adventure filmmaking stripped to the very bone. But there is a reason we don’t reference Temple of Doom in the same breathes as Raiders of the Lost Arc and Empire Strikes Back

        But I think TFA is going to age badly. I wouldn’t call it a smart move, but a safe move. It did the bare minimum it needed, to create a great time enjoying something that was comfortably Star Wars. Enough to reignite interest, and provide insurance for the sure to be controversial Rogue One (which will be a movie I think people will be debating for ages while TFA will be treated as this thing whose only real importance was as a beginning (and Kylo Ren)). I mean, it is a movie that blows up the Capital of the New Republic, a faction whose relationship to the Resistance and the First Order is not established, and the consequences of which are ignored

        I do love Rey, Finn and Poe. But solely because of the actors. You love Poe Dameron because he is played by one of the best working actors of today, playing the dashing pilot perfectly. But a big reason I am looking forward to Episode 8 (other than the fact that Rian Johnson is directing it!) is to see these great actors get to be characters. I guess you could say I’m in it more for Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Issac than I am for the characters they are playing

        But the fact is, the real smart thing to do would have been to have created a movie that works as a true beginning to the new start of the franchise. JJ Abrams was always the safest choice, as a nostalgia artist with a skill for mimicry but an inability to be anything other than be a chameleon, But they should have gone for a braver choice (like Rian Johnson). Find someone who can make it feel like Star Wars and do all the things that TFA did to reassure the public, without feeling like every moment the movie slows down requires a sudden action sequence. Someone who could give the movie the substance that JJ Abrams can’t, and be a proper start of a new trilogy, instead of just the postscript of the old one.

        I won’t ever call Force Awakens a bad movie, as it is too fun. Too many great actors, too many great action sequences, to be bad. But it is inessential. Quite simply, you wouldn’t lose a lot if you skipped TFA and went straight from Jedi to Eight. Anything that actually happened in TFA was so ignored by TFA itself that Episode 8 is going to be the movie to truly introduce it. I mean, I’m interested to see what Episode 8 does with the idea that the New Republic lost its capital and the entire Galaxy has a political vacuum that the Galaxy has never had before. But TFA gives us no clues to what that means. Because TFA doesn’t define anything. It s just a rollercoaster

        It is why, when Marvel announced a Poe Dameron comic, I went ‘Really? Now? They don’t want to wait a bit?’ but I left Rogue One eagerly awaiting Marvel announcing a Captain Cassian Andor comic (come on Marvel, you know you want to)

        • I’d totally read that Cassian comic. I do think part of my affinity for that character is that I like Diego Luna so much, but I’d be willing to see Soule or Aaron or Duggan or someone from Marvels stable take a crack and bringing that charming motherfucker to the comic page.

          I also believe it’s possible that TFA will be considered non-essential in the future, but I still believe it’s hyper-relevant in the moment. I agree with what both of you have said about needing to re-connect the audience with the franchise and re-assure them that this is more Original Trilogy Extension than anything else, but I think the way the movie explores themes of impossible legacies IS incredibly vital. Both Rey and Kylo Ren are essentially Star Wars fans – they’ve been playing with Star Wars toys and cosplaying as their favorite characters their entire lives and they all have to come to terms with the fact that they’re not affording that wonderful distance of fandom forever – they have to become part of the story. For Rey, that’s thrilling, but for Kylo, it’s humiliating.

          That’s the same journey the audience takes, and we kinda feel both in equal measure all the time. I can simultaneous be excited to see Darth Vader and bummed out when he makes a “choke” pun. I’ve seen the criticism that TFA does feel like a “personal” movie, but I’d almost argue that Abrams made the most personal Star Wars movie, as so much of it has to do with figuring out how the new pieces fit into this thing we already love.

        • In as much as anything is important in TFA, it is Legacy. Kylo Ren is the heir of two different, contradictory legacies, and being torn apart by this conflict. Meanwhile, Rey and Finn are the opposite. In a Galaxy where Legacy is so important, they have been stripped of theirs. Both have no family, no history and their quests are in part to find a Legacy/Family to be part of.

          But I disagree that TFA is about fans. Kylo Ren certainly isn’t a fan. By virtue of birth, he has never been distant enough to the story to be a fan. He is the story.
          Rey is a fan, but I don’t think that matters too much to the story. Ultimately, Rey’s arc (which never gets really explored as she is never given a chance to make a choice about returning to Jakku) is about whether accept the new family or wait for her ‘real’ family. Her status as a fan informs part of the reason that Rey is attracted to the greater Skywalker family, but ignores the fact that Finn is the most important member of that family. Rey, once you address the insubstantial aspects of her arc, is about family more than fandom.
          I would love to hear more about why you think it is about fandom, as I can’t see it.

          And Cassian Andor is honestly a great character. Diego Luna plays him wonderfully, but he also has a strong foundation for a comic. His moral ambiguity makes him unique to the Star Wars universe, and he has a great complexity balancing his idealistic hopes with his pragmatic actions. In a perfect world, were he not exclusive to DC, Tom King would be fantastic. Grayson is proof that he writes great spy comics, so he just needs to do Grayson with the sort of moral ambiguity and use of terrorism themes of the Trilogy of Good Intentions. But I can also see Aaron or Duggan doing a great job. Though actually, of the Marvel stable, I think Gillen would be best. Darth Vader is an obvious reason why, but Gillen’s work on things like Loki, Uber, Wicked + the Divine and stuff actually give him a range that suggests that he would be able to tell a great Cassian story without doing the same thing as he did with Vader (because the most obvious thing to do with Cassian is to give him an Aphra style character who can be executed at the end)

        • I think the character-as-fan argument can actually be made most clearly for Kylo Ren. He’s got one of the rarest collectibles in the galaxy, and has an obsession with Darth Vader that’s so powerful it overrides his base morality. Remember that he feels the pull to the light side, but stays the dark path because he’s so in love with being like Darth Vader. He’s even got a mask and voice-changer that are purely superficial because he wants to look and sound more like Darth Vader. This is really the first time in the series that any character is modeling themselves directly off of another character – even when Luke was training to be “a Jedi like my father before me,” he’s kinda just pursuing the avenue of power that’s available to him. And clearly Luke forges a distinct path. Basically he’s trapped in Anakin’s legacy, but Kylo chooses to emulate it.

          And I think there might be a difference between TFA being “about fandom” and TFA being about the relationships the characters and the audience have with the original trilogy. Like, I’m not even really sure you can consider Star Wars fandom “fandom,” you know? It’s too pervasive and too culturally relevant to be pigeonholed as a niche experience. Star Wars has left an un-erasable, unavoidable mark on cinema, science fiction, comics, toys, video games that it’s sort of impossible to imagine a filmmaker, storyteller or artist that hasn’t been influenced by it. I think Rey and Kylo (and to a lesser extent Finn) all represent the current generation of Star War storytellers and the struggles they face bringing all of their own Star War baggage to telling original Star Wars stories. (I said Star Wars three times in that sentence, I assume now the franchise will appear in front of me and offer to help me scare Catherine O’Hara out of my house.)

          In that way, I think the similarities to A New Hope aren’t just meant to trigger our “hey I remember all of this” happy thoughts. JJ et al. are retracing the steps and inserting new characters that are both intimately familiar with and super excited by the events of the original. That’s how I see TFA as about both fans and creator-fans.

        • Does Kylo have a one of the rarest collectables? Or does he have a family heirloom? Is he dressing up as his favourite character, or following the family tradition? Is he trying to complete what Vader started because he is Vader’s biggest fan, or because it is hos responsibility as Vader’s heir? I think any discussion of Kylo Ren as a fan has to deal with the fact that this is Kylo’s actual legacy. Kylo is Vader’s grandson, and that matters. Any obsession he has (and he has a lot of obsession) is intimately connected to his relationship with his grandfather. I would argue Luke has a better claim of being the fan – a lot of Luke’s early actions are inspired in part by heroic stories of things like the Clone Wars. Learning his father was a Jedi simply gives him access to the stuff he always dreamed about. The difficult thing about this conversation is that we don’t know how Snoke tempted Kylo (surprise, TFA is insubstantial), but I think family is far too important to Kylo. Remember, he tells Finn that Luke’s lightsaber belongs to him. That is him staking his claim on the lightsaber by virtue of inheritance.

          THe big problem with the fact the idea of saying that Rey, Kylo and Finn represent the new generation wrestling with their Star Wars baggage, is that so much of the retreads are simply just retreads. When they describe Starkiller Base as being bigger than the Death Star, or when Poe Dameron does his trench run, or when they walk into a dangerous cantina, very little is done to address to explore what that means. What struggles do they face? When Rey faces a retread, she treats it no differently than she does the new content, like the escape from Jakku (I love that sequence). She is just as much the adventurous hero diving into action as Luke is. Maybe the only sequence I can say that her status as a fan matters is when she uses the Jedi Mind Trick to escape, where the knowledge of Star Wars itself is justification enough to know what to do. But other than that, I can’t think of many scenes that are about the relationship we have with the original trilogy, as opposed to simply referencing them to remind us of Star Wars. I’d love to hear some examples of sequences where you think that idea is explored and what your interpretation of them are, because I can’t think of many moments where the character’s relationships to the previous movies cross into thematic territory (with the exception of Kylo, but I still believe that comes down more to Family/Legacy than fandom)

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