Poe Dameron Annual #2 Review

by Dennis Keithly

Poe and Black Squadron get a little help from an unexpected source in an early adventure in Poe Dameron Annual#2.

This review contains plot details for Poe Dameron Annual #2.

Poe Dameron Annual #2 Cover

Poe Dameron Annual #2

Writer: Jody Houser | Artist: Andrea Broccardo | Colorist: Stefani Renee | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Cover Artist: Rod Reis| Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia

Poe Dameron Annual #2 follows in the tradition of comic book annuals in providing a story that doesn’t necessarily fit into the current story arc of the main title. Last year, Poe Dameron Annual #1, jumped back in time by about a dozen issues to tell the story of how Poe stumbled upon a First Order trap. With the follow up annual, this series returns to some of the earliest days of the Resistance. General Organa leads this bold band of freedom fighters, but they have problems. Among those problems are a lack of funds. Therefore, she turns to Poe Dameron and Black Squadron to carry out a heist devised by C-3PO to recover an asset that might just return the Resistance to solvency. They get an assist from an old scoundrel along the way.

A Scrappy Resistance

The Resistance has a financing issue in Poe Dameron Annual #2. They don’t have money and they don’t have any reputable financial backers. Threepio proposes stealing illicit goods from a known criminal as a remedy. The goods are a data archive said to predate the rise of the Empire. The archive itself is constructed from precious metals valuable enough to buy a small planetoid. The fear is the data might contain blueprints for a potential super weapon. Worse yet, the criminals, headed by the Kudon trader Mek Nu’Tiv, propose to sell this archive to the First Order. This issue is set before The Force Awakens, so one might guess that Treepio was eluding to the plans for Starkiller Base. However, given the context of the rest of the issue, it seems unlikely.

Threepio further proposes that Black Squadron pose as smugglers and steal the archive. This plan has the advantage that the Resistance wouldn’t be implicated should Black Squadron be discovered. The disadvantage is that Black Squadron must resort to flying Clone wars era starfighters. Although the squad grumbles about it, they make do.

Poe Dameron Annual #2 - Threepio

An Unexpected Ally in Han Solo

Black Squadron gets some secret help. Unknown to them, Han Solo and Chewbacca are also looking for this archive. Han hopes that by retrieving the archive, he can sell it and payoff debts. He gets to the archive first after Mek Nu’Tiv discovers he is an impostor. But, he then discovers, before the reader does, what the archive contains. At about that time Poe and Black Squadron attack Mek’s ship, but Han doesn’t know who they are just yet. His examination of the archive allows him to put two and two together and Han figures out that the Resistance has arrived. Han then makes the decision to pave the way for the Resistance, so the archive can make it’s way to Leia.

This is perhaps one of the most touching moments of the issue. Upon discovering exactly what the archive is, Han has some flashbacks to his relationship with his wife. At the conclusion of his flashback, he makes the decision to see that Leia gets this data without her and the Resistance knowing he helped. After all, he and Leia are estranged at the time. This is perfectly in keeping with Han’s character. He has a heart of gold, but he doesn’t necessarily want everyone to know about it.

The Archive

With Han’s secret help, Poe recovers the archive. He then makes his escape from Mek’s ship. After he presents the archive to Leia, she unveils the contents. It is the Archive of the Great Library of Alderaan. It is clear to see why Han figured out who else was after this. It is also apparent why he wanted Leia to have it. The Archive was another piece of her destroyed home.

Despite the sentimental value, Leia elects to sell the archive. The Resistance needs the money and Leia can copy the data itself. In addition, she notes that she can think of no better way of honoring the memory of Alderaan than by putting that money to use fighting the same kind of evil that destroyed her home planet. One can only wonder what her reaction would have been if she knew Han Solo assisted in getting it to her.

Poe Dameron Annual #2 - Poe

A Word on the Art of Poe Dameron Annual #2

The success of the art in Poe Dameron Annual #2 varies throughout the issue. Artists working on Star Wars titles have the challenge of creating likenesses of very recognizable characters without exactly mimicking well known images from the films. In other words, fans demand that Luke looks something like Mark Hamill without the image being a photo reproduction. On the other hand, while readers are looking for characters that one would expect to find in a comic book, they don’t want the artist to invoke too much artistic freedom and interpretation. Take Mace Windufor example. A frequent criticism of that series was the artist interpretation of many of the characters and chiefly Yoda.

The characters of Poe Dameron Annual #2 vary on how well they capture the likeness of their real-life counterparts. Figuring out who Poe is fairly easy. He is the dark-haired guy wearing the Resistance jacket. He doesn’t look too much like Oscar Isaacs, but he is a sufficient stand in. Then there is Leia Organa. Again, it isn’t hard to figure out who she is from the context of the comic. However, she looks sufficiently different from Carrie Fisher and that it is a little distracting.

Han Solo presents an interesting challenge in this issue. In some of the earlier panels, Broccardo drew him so that Han looks just enough like Han that the reader knows instinctively knows who he is, but he isn’t so similar as to reach the uncanny valley. However, his next appearance is confusing. The art doesn’t make it clear that Han is posing as a First Order operative. After the first read, it seemed that a First Order operative was negotiating with Mek Nu’Tiv and then got blasted by Chewbacca. However, the context from subsequent reads of this same series of panels make it clear that it was Han posing as a First Order agent, and some other henchman of Mek Nu’Tiv’s got shot.

Despite this criticism, there are several instances where the art shines. Threepio’s appearance is outstanding. So are the appearances of the other members of Black Squadron. The fighter craft also look amazing. Mek Nu’Tiv is another great addition to the art of the series. Again, the art in the issue is more successful in some areas than others.

Final Thoughts on Poe Dameron Annual #2

Overall, Poe Dameron Annual #2 is a good story. It has some touching moments when Han Solo does the right thing at personal cost to himself for the benefit of Leia and the Resistance. Also, Leia sacrificing an artifact from her former home was a wonderful sentimental touch as well. There is a “Gift of the Magi” vibe with this issue. Jody Houser (who wrote the comic adaptations of Rogue One and Thrawn) paced this story very well. Although this story was a Poe Dameron annual, the real story was about Han Solo and General Leia Organa. Their relationship and history were the soul of this story. Unfortunately, this is the second to last issue of Poe Dameron. The next offering, Poe Dameron #31, will wrap up the story. This was a nice tribute to add to the series before its conclusion.

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