Warning! Spoilers ahead for Marvel's Poe Dameron #31...
All stories must indeed come to an end and so here we are looking at the final issue of one of the better Star Wars comic runs of the new era. With issue #31, “The Awakening, Part VI”, Marvel’s Poe Dameron series concludes in an exciting and somewhat optimistic fashion. These Resistance fighters, in particular Black Squadron, are not a forlorn bunch and their heroism and supreme confidence comes from two things, their leader Poe Dameron and their genuine affection for one another.
Both of those things are on full display in this issue as we start off with Poe venting at General Organa that his squad is struggling against the First Order on the planet Ikkrukk. In the previous issue Poe receives a broken SOS message from Jessika Pava that things aren’t going great for the team. As we know, the bulk of Black Squadron was sent by General Organa to round up any remaining Resistance sympathizers after the destruction of Hosnian Prime and its system.
For his part, Poe is agonizing on the Millennium Falcon with the remaining dozen or so Resistance members feeling pretty helpless. Leia refuses to risk the lives of the remaining few and the Falcon for what she thinks is likely a suicide mission but Poe remains steadfast. She allows him to go but he must get his own ride. Before he leaves, she promotes him back to Commander, a rank he lost in The Last Jedi during the Dreadnought Fulminatrix bombing mission.
This is an important detail because more than likely he’ll start Star Wars Episode IX with this rank and now we’ll now when he achieved it and why. It’s also wonderfully cathartic and heartwarming to know that Leia was the one who gave it back to him before she dies. Leia is Poe’s ultimate cheerleader and confidant and their relationship is a truly special one. After all, Poe lost his mother, Shara Bey, at a young age so Leia has filled that role in his life. Her loss will be felt by all but none more so than him.
Back to the issue. This exchange, which opens the book, is not unlike their previous encounters where Leia desperately wants Poe to be the leader she knows he can be. His brashness and over confidence in his skills, which are abundant, have kept him from reaching his potential in her eyes. But this time feels different, Poe even acknowledges as much…
So, here we have Poe finding a balance between accepting his fate as leader of the Resistance, considering the risks, but at the same time realizing that if this war is to be won, it’s to be won with sacrifice, valor and intelligence.
The next few pages we see Black Squadron in a heap of trouble on Ikkrukk with Temmin and Karé struggling in the air, and Jessika and Suralinda backed into a cave. While Jessika and Suralinda managed to overtake their pursuers, thanks to Suralinda’s unique gifts, Temmin and Karé are running out of time. They’re both low on fuel and out of ammo and just when things look bleak, in comes Poe to save the day. With some quick thinking, he manages to take out a squad of Tie’s and their cruiser, the Fortitude, and at the same time rescuing his friends. This sequence is laid out beautifully as we go back and forth between what’s going on in the air, the ground and on the bridge of the Fortitude where Colonel Barrut is struggling to maintain control, and her sanity.
Aside from where Poe got his ship, which we’ll get to, the interesting tidbit about this is the lack of or misinformation the First Order clearly shares amongst its fleet. Colonel Barrut and her ship’s Lieutenant both cast doubt on Poe’s identity when he radios them ahead of his attack, a trick he likes to pull on the First Order. They were unaware or hadn’t been told yet about the events in The Last Jedi where the First Order lost the Supremacy, the Fulminatrix and nearly two dozen Destroyers. Not to mention they were told that Poe Dameron and the rest of the Resistance had been killed during the destruction of their old base on D’Qar. At one point, Barrut’s Lieutenant even asks about the fate of General Hux and who, if anyone, is currently in charge.
So, is this a sign that the First Order has major kinks in it or just too large to effectively communicate across the vastness of space? Surely something as important as what transpired in The Last Jedi should have echoed to the far reaches of the galaxy so this tells me it’s a sign of things to come. On the other hand, in order to maintain discipline and morale, it makes sense that they wouldn’t want the fleet to know just how bad a hit they took at the hands of a few rebels.
As for Poe’s mystery ship, it turns out he got it from a familiar face, especially if you’ve been reading the Poe Dameron series. It came from none other than Grakkus the Hutt, the same Hutt who helped Poe locate Lor San Tekka after Black Squadron helped him escape Megalox prison. The issue doesn’t go beyond mentioning him by name but there’s no doubt Poe’s delicate partnership with the Hutts will prove fruitful in future battles with the First Order. Trying to dig around, I found no record or mention of this ship and they don’t mention by name in the issue so, for now, it’s a mystery ship.
With the Fortitude destroyed and a major victory in hand, the Ikkrukk leader Grist and her people have agreed to help the Resistance fight the First Order, or at least keep them out of their system.
This is where the issue, and series, ends. With the hope that more planets and systems will take notice of what happened during the Battle of Grail City and join the fight against the First Order. And that through the actions of just a few, inspire many more to see that peace will one day be the dominant force in the galaxy. There’s no doubt the issue sets up J.J. Abrams Episode IX from Black Squadron’s point of view but of course there’s still the issue of General Organa to sort out. But with Poe becoming a stronger leader by the day, his squad firmly behind him, and more and more systems joining the cause, it seems the skies the limit for these aces.
Charles Soule has written a wonderful series and really gives this character his due. It’s easy to dismiss Poe as nothing more than a throwaway character because he’s a risk-taking pilot who flies an X-Wing, and we’ve seen plenty of those. But this series really gets the heart of the matter and shows us what makes him a really great Star Wars character. He has one of the better backstories around with lineage to spare, and when you understand that Poe has lived his whole trying to reach the bar set by his parents, you start to appreciate him more, a lot more.
When you line this series up with Soule’s other Star Wars works, Lando, Obi-Wan and Anakin, Darth Vader: Lord of the Sith, it’s right up there. It’s the perfect Disney-era story where we get wonderful insight into a current character that the films just don’t have time to flesh out and at the same time add fresh content and connectivity to an always expanding universe…wonderful.
“I think that's the fight. We've lost a lot. Almost everything…but we can still do what needs to be done. We can still win. In fact in some ways…The Resistance has just begun."
Full props go to writer Charles Soule, Penciller/Inker Angel Unzueta, Letterer Joe Caramagna, Colorist Arif Prianto, Cover Artist Phil Noto and Editor Mark Paniccia.
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