So far, Marvel Comics’ Poe Dameron series has given us a look at the hotshot Resistance pilot’s rise to glory as the leader of Black Squadron before the events of the sequel movie trilogy. But its most recent issue has brought us not just to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but beyond it—helping to recontextualize an untold part of Poe’s journey.
Poe Dameron #26, by Charles Soule, Angel Unzueta, Arif Prianto, and Joe Caramagna is technically, in Disney’s grand remaking of Star Wars continuity, the most current piece of Star Wars material available. Its primary framework is set in the immediate moments following the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi—the remnants of the Resistance, mid-hyperspace escape from the battle of Crait aboard the Millennium Falcon, Poe introducing himself to Rey, and catching up with Finn in what has been a pretty trying time for all of them.
They catch up by explaining about how they all first met on and over Jakku, but for Poe, there also comes an explanation for his friends—one about not just why Poe came to Jakku in the first place, but what happened to him between his and Finn’s purloined TIE Fighter crash landing back on the desert world and reuniting with Finn at the Resistance’s base on D’Qar.
The story itself takes up most of the issue, and although this is the first time it’s being shown to us, it’s not actually new information. Poe’s brief bargain with a scavenger named Naka for a ride back to what counts for civilization on Jakku was originally part of drafts for The Force Awakens’ script—in fact, it was in the script late enough into the writing process that it made it into The Force Awakens’ novelization, which is where we first learned this. And plus, it’s not that interesting a story, outside of the fact that Poe actually left his jacket behind (for Finn to eventually collect and then basically take ownership of) because it caught on his ejector seat, meaning he couldn’t escape like Finn:
But what makes the story interesting is how it’s being told—this is not the Poe Dameron Finn reunited with in The Force Awakens, this is the Poe Dameron who’s own hubris and braggadocio cost the lives of Admiral Holdo, Paige Tico, and countless other Resistance members over the course of The Last Jedi. It’s the Poe who’s learned that it’s better to fail and survive sometimes than it is to be hero. That framing, and that context, makes the bluster that Poe tells this story to Rey and Finn with just that: bluster. It’s a simple tale, one that’s easy to recall after the hurt of the Resistance fleet’s losses and Crait, of Poe being cool and worming his way out of a bad situation with charm and skill, like Poe Dameron the Hero always does.
It’s only in a brief moment near the end of the issue, when Poe recalls how he felt having to report back to Leia that he’d lost both Lor San Tekka and the map to her brother, that we see a glimmer of the man forged by the lessons he learned in The Last Jedi. That line about failure takes on a sharpness coming from after the events of The Last Jedi it would have lacked if this was a tale Poe was recounting to Finn in the brief period after The Force Awakens—and it’s what makes this issue a much more intriguing and compelling examination of Poe than it would have been if it had just “confirmed” an unseen tale from The Force Awakens.
Poe Dameron #26 is not the end of this brief recollection—the preview for the next issue implies Poe will continue to recount his perspective of the battle for Starkiller Base to Rey and Finn. Given that that too is a story of grand heroics, it’ll be interesting to see how a post-Last Jedi Poe tells it.