by Spencer Irwin
This article containers SPOILERS. If you have not read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
The fact that The Last Jedi picks up almost immediately where The Force Awakens left off leaves the Poe Dameron comic in a bit of a tight spot — the Star Wars comics have been mining the fertile ground between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back for decades now, but Poe Dameron doesn’t have that kind of space to work in, instead leaving Charles Soule and Angel Unzueta only tiny blank gaps of backstory to fill in. We here at Retcon Punch have been a bit frustrated by this over the past few issues, generally preferring the sweet, chemistry-filled framing device (a conversation between Poe, Rey, and Finn) to the actual stories it’s being used to tell. Poe Dameron 28, though, finds success by approaching these vignettes from a new angle, building a mystery around who actually is telling the story.
It’s a smart move because the first half of Poe Dameron 28 is devoted to retelling the climax of The Force Awakens, and as gorgeous as Unzueta’s work often is, it’s still hard to get excited about seeing scenes we’ve already watched on the big screen play out on page. What draws readers into this sequence, then, is the mystery of the two narrators telling the story. Identified only by two differently colored narration boxes — orange and blue — readers are left to slowly put together the pieces, crossing prospective narrators off the list once they’re brought up in the story, and trying to guess based off the relationships and perspectives mentioned. It’s a tight little mystery with a brilliant pay-off.
Retcon Punch’s own Patrick messaged me immediately upon reaching this moment to tell me that it made him laugh and cry simultaneously, and I can see why. There’s humor, of course, in finding out that the entire somber conversation we’ve just read has actually been a bunch of beeps and bloops exchanged between two droids, as well as in C-3P0 popping up to shush them in his characteristically fussy manner. But the actual content of their conversation becomes even more touching when their identities are revealed — seeing that BB-8 remembers the name of every pilot and droid who has sacrificed their lives for the Resistance, or how R2-D2 feels fated to watch the galaxy evolve, and thus compelled to record the its stories and keep them alive, tugs at the heartstrings and adds real weight and character to figures perhaps too often used as comic relief.
This whole sequence is formally inventive and full of insightful character work, turning a flashback/retelling that probably should have been filler at best into essential reading. That’s how you handle a storytelling challenge like the one Poe Dameron‘s been handed this arc.
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?