Released On: 29 August 2018
Rating: Rated T
Writer: Jody Houser
Penciler: Andrea Broccardo
Cover Artist: Rod Reis
CAN POE DAMERON OUTMANEUVER ONE OF THE GALAXY’S GREATEST PILOTS? Rebellions may be built on hope, but they need more than that to survive. LEIA sends BLACK SQUADRON on a new mission, one that will raise important funds for THE RESISTANCE. Can a group of pilots really do the work of smugglers and scoundrels?
The second Poe Dameron annual begins on D’Qar, before the events of The Force Awakens. Leia, C-3PO and Poe are discussing the needs of The Resistance, namely credits. Threepio’s droid network has discovered that The First Order have arranged a deal with a trader called Mek Nu’Tiv to get a data archive. The archive itself is old and the metals that comprise it are expensive. Also it is believed to house blueprints for a superweapon. Not wanting to endanger Nu’Tiv (and keep her neutrality), Black Squadron need to disguise themselves as smugglers and take the archive before The First Order obtain it.
At the Fluzhi Clan shipyards, we find Han Solo and Chewbacca stealing a ship in order to pretend they are with the First Order. They are meeting with Nu’Tiv for the same weapons archive that Poe will be after.
Back at the Resistance base, we see the pilots of Black Squadron having to take older ships that show they are smugglers, rather than their trusted x-wings.
On Nu’Tiv’s cruiser, we find Han trying to make the deal with the female trader. However, she quickly realises all is not as it seems, forcing Chewie to step in, causing a fire fight between the trader’s men and Han and the Wookiee.
While Han and Chewie are fighting on board the cruiser, Black Squadron exit hyperspace and start their approach. BB-8 has a trick up his sleeve, and Poe is able to fire some ion shots at the cruiser, causing it to lose power. In the darkness, Han and Chewie are able to leave the firefight in search of the archive.
Black Squadron quickly find themselves against fighters. While the rest of the squadron deal with their new enemies, Poe and BB-8 race aboard the cruiser to try and find the archive. Before Poe can complete his search, Han finds the archive. Opening it, he says ‘Leia’ and realises that the Resistance are on board to get the archive. Without hesitating, Han and Chewie hide but keep an eye out for Poe. They allow Poe to take the archive and head back to his ship.
Back on D’Qar, Poe explains that things didn’t seem quite right, that someone was there before him. Without too much pondering, Leia opens the archive to reveal that the archive is in fact the archive of The Great Library of Alderaan. Poe can’t believe that Leia would sell such a thing but Leia points out that the files can be copied and the money can be used to fight the same kind of evil that destroyed the planet.
I can’t say I’m a particularly fan of the annuals that Marvel release. None of them seem to grip me and the writers struggle to provide the standard set in the regular issues. Poe Dameron does set an extremely high standard, both in terms of writing and artwork, making it very difficult for any writer or artist to match. I have to say, the first thing that struck me with this comic was the artwork. When looking at the work of Angel Unzueta for so long in the regular issues, the artwork here just isn’t good enough. Most notably were the faces of the characters. No one particularly looked like they should. This is an issue when you are needing your readers to realise that Han is in a disguise, but you can’t recognise him from any other character. Another thing that didn’t feel right were the Mek fighters, who were coloured very brightly. Now I know it’s a big galaxy, but having such bright colours on ships just didn’t feel very Star Wars for me.
The annual format is always going to have the inherent problem that everything has to be dealt with in one issue, rather than building up over the course of several. They are always going to feel a little rushed and this comic is no different. That said, Houser does write a good story. I particularly liked the links with the rest of the series and the movies. The phrase, ‘Rebellions are built on hope’ is being seen a lot more in the comics and books, and rightfully so. Jyn Erso had a huge impact on the Rebellion and it seems right that she (and her words) would be held up by the Rebellion and the Resistance. Although only brief, we see L’ulo back in a flashback scene, my only complaint is I would like to have seen him even more! The reference of the older ships from the Clone Wars era was also well done, with Z-95 head-hunters, ARC fighters and V-wings. There is a lot of appreciation of what has come before and although only brief glimpses, they are weaved very well into the story.
Although I couldn’t recognise him, seeing Han in this time period was great. He is up to his old tricks, conning who he can and being, well, Han. It is not an easy thing to write Han Solo, yet here is being the smuggler we all remember from the first film. The flashback scene with Leia was very well done. What I appreciated the most was Poe and Han not meeting. I assumed from what I had seen that they would, but it was far more effective keeping them apart and was a good decision on Houser’s part.
All in all, this annual is like any other from Star Wars that I have read. It is a quick story that doesn’t really connect to the rest of the series and feels rushed. The artwork is not the best I’ve seen, and particularly with the expectation I have from the Poe Dameron series, I would expect far better. What does come across, is a writer who likes Star Wars, who has been able to weave pieces of the franchise here and there to tell a short, enjoyable story. Just make sure that you don’t judge the entire series by this annual, as the series written by Charles Soule has so much more to offer.
The Poe Dameron Annual is a one shot issue available from Marvel. This issue is available via the Marvel App and all good comic book stores. This issue retails at $4.99.