Ever since Marvel announced that Poe Dameron would be getting his own Star Wars comic, we’ve been very eager to read it. Thankfully, it was worth waiting for. Just like the film that inspired it, Poe Dameron is a blast—one lays down the groundwork for something even better come after it.
Spoilers ahead for Poe Dameron #1, by Charles Soule, Phil Noto, and Joe Caramagna.
I’ll get the important bit out of the way first: Do you want a comic book about the joy that is X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron? Do you want a comic book that focuses on pilots on risky missions and tales of derring-do rather than Jedi and the Force? Then pick up Poe Dameron #1.
Do you want a comic book drawn by the almost-maddeningly talented Phil Noto, whose gorgeous style pitch-perfectly recreates the aesthetic of The Force Awakens, and totally nails the likeness of real-world actors like Oscar Isaac and Carrie Fisher?
Then definitely pick up Poe Dameron #1.
The Poe Dameron comic is pure, unadulterated Force Awakens fan service. Set just before the events of the film, with Poe recruiting Black Squadron on his General-Organa-assigned mission to find out the location of Lor San Tekka (and thus Luke Skywalker) before the First Order does. It’s a space adventure writ large. Soule’s writing is a breeze, and he captures the cocksure cadence of Poe’s speech as excellently as Noto’s art captures the likeness. It’s got a simple quest at its heart—grab some pilots, hop in some space ships, and go on a search across the galaxy—that it sets to at a blistering pace.
It’s also just absurdly fun. So far there’s not as much spacefighter action as I’d like out of a comic—it opens with a punchy escape scene with Poe and BB-8 that promises that when the book does get to the space battles it’ll be a downright hoot—but Poe and Black Squadron spend more time on their feet here than they do behind the controls of an X-Wing. It’s still got action and charm by the bucketloads, and even if you preferred Rey or Finn when you watched The Force Awakens, you’ll be smiling throughout Poe’s adventure.
However, arguably just as The Force Awakens did before it, Poe Dameron is also rather conservative in its handling of Star Wars, no matter how joyously it recreates the series’ magically-indescribable vibe. It sticks to very familiar beats, for better or worse, polishing them to a fine sheen. Its direct links into the movie with the quest to find Lor San Tekka aside, it doesn’t really give us anything new about Poe, at least so far.
Beyond Poe, the issue does try to peel back the layers of the weird, Force-based mysticism that Tekka practised. Poe discovers the old man had been spending his time with an underground religious group protecting a mysterious egg that allegedly houses some sort of savior figure. But the idea of at least exploring a post-Empire world where these sort of strange, mystic religions can begin to flourish again without facing the Emperor’s wroth is an intriguing idea.
Hopefully as the comic continues, Poe and his pals can be fleshed out a little beyond what we’ve already seen on the big screen. But even if it doesn’t, Poe Dameron #1 is a proof-of-concept that this character that has become so popular, so quickly, can work in the pages of a comic book without being physically embodied by the walking charm-machine that is Oscar Isaac, a man this website literally once described as a “sexy sex god.” That’s impressive all by itself.