When “The Force Awakens” hit theaters, “Star Wars” fans didn’t simply catch up with old friends; they made some new ones as well, like junk scavenger Rey, former Stormtrooper Finn, and the Resistance’s charismatic flying ace, Poe Dameron.
In the film, Rey and Finn heard the call to adventure for the first time, but viewers were given the sense that Poe and his X-Wing squadron were tried and true veterans of a number of battles. This April, writer Charles Soule and artist Phil Noto will chronicle some of the early missions of Poe and his squadmates as they kick off “Star Wars: Poe Dameron,” an all-new, ongoing Marvel Comics series, set before “The Force Awakens.” We spoke with Soule and Noto about the appeal of Poe and the special missions their cast will undertake, not to mention the strange worlds and vile villains they’ll encounter in the series.
CBR News: What do you think were some of the essential traits actor Oscar Isaac brought to the character of Poe Dameron?
Charles Soule: I think it’s his charisma that really defines him, for me. Poe Dameron is one charming fellow. We’ve seen great pilots before, and great warriors, but his ability to lead and inspire feels pretty fresh to me, as is his somewhat snappy roguishness. I dig him a lot — he’s super fun to write, which is the sign of a well-drawn character.
Phil Noto: I love the fact that he’s kind of Maverick from “Top Gun.” Cocky, but focused on his mission. I just want to capture his likeness enough so people feel like it’s really Poe from the film. I think Oscar did a great job with the humor and heroism of the character.
This is your third “Star Wars” project for Marvel, Charles, and your first ongoing, and Phil, you did interiors for the recent “Chewbacca” miniseries, covers for several issues of Marvel’s “Star Wars” comics, and covers and interior illustrations for several “Star Wars” junior novels. What keeps you coming back for more “Star Wars” projects, and how does it feel to finally be able to tackle a long form story?
Soule: Much like the regular Marvel Universe, telling stories in “Star Wars” is a blast. Among other things, I know this world inside and out. I’ve been studying for these jobs since I was a very small child, and it’s wonderful to be able to put that knowledge into practice. I’m also excited that I’ve written a story set in the Original Trilogy era with Lando, one in the Prequel Era with Obi-Wan & Anakin, and now I get to tell a story in the latest era. Hat trick!
As far as ongoing — well, it’s just nice to be able to stretch out a bit, and tell a story with themes that take a bit longer to develop. Such a great gig.
Noto: This is truly a dream come true as I still have my old Marvel “Star Wars” adaptation from when I was 6. I’ve always been a huge fan and have been having a blast working on all the different projects lately. I’m also thrilled that Poe is such a great character and that the movie was so well received. It would have been tough to promote a monthly comic based on something people really didn’t like.
An ongoing comic is nice because there’s a lot more you can slowly build on in terms of story and also there’s a wider range of characters and environments that I get to create and draw.
What can you tell us about the time period in which the series is set?
Soule: It’s set before “The Force Awakens.” The New Republic and the First Order are in a position of detente, and while there have been a few small skirmishes between the Resistance and the First Order, it’s very much a sort of cold war. That said, the “Star Wars” galaxy is a dangerous place, and the First Order isn’t the only opponent Poe will face.
Will Poe primarily be flying solo missions for the Resistance, or is he part of a squadron?
Soule: BB-8 is Poe’s right-hand droid, for sure. We also see a bunch of characters that readers will recognize from “The Force Awakens,” as well as new and old faces from across the Star Wars galaxy. Poe is part of a squadron, like a special missions crew, and it’s a great mix of folks.
Noto: Luckily, I have a ton of reference from working on the novels, so it’s been fun using that to bring more life to the squadron compared to the tiny bit of illustrations I’ve done with them previously. Designing the villain was a lot of fun using all the cool First Order visuals as a touchstone.
What can you tell us about that villain?
Soule: The main villain is a new character, an intelligence officer in the First Order with some ties to the old Empire. He’s a scary guy, a little older, which I think gives him a cool gravitas in much the same way Peter Cushing delivered as Grand Moff Tarkin in “A New Hope.” His approach to conflicts is very interesting, and he can be a charmer. I think of him almost like an evil Lando.
I imagine aerial and outer space dogfights will just be one type of action Poe and his supporting cast will become embroiled in, but what other types of stories we’ll see?
Soule: I think of it like a bunch of different genre movies, stacked up one after the other. I’ve been doing this for a while, actually — Lando was a heist movie, and Obi-Wan & Anakin is a post-apocalyptic steampunk western. Poe will be the same, with each arc feeling a bit different. The first story is straight-up weird, ’70s sci-fi, but there’s plenty more to come — a prison story, an espionage tale — lots of great stuff.
I imagine part of the fun of a book like “Poe Dameron” is the chance to build and design alien worlds.
Soule: I always love it — the “Star Wars” galaxy is really flexible as far as what it can include, and there doesn’t seem to be many limits on what you might find in the weirder corners of space. I think we’re going to explore that to its fullest extent in the series. The first story involves a strange cult that I can’t wait to see Phil design. Actually, I can’t wait to see all of it. Phil’s amazing.
Noto: I’ve always been a big sci-fi fan, and it’s been great to get a chance to create so many alien worlds and elements compared to variations on different Earth-based cities and locales. Drawing James Bond-type, Black Widow action will always be fun, as will big-scale superhero stories, but it’s nice to do something totally different from that for a while.
I’m trying to take some visual cues from the movies and apply them to the different environments in the book. For instance, there’s a lush green feel to the Resistance base, whereas the First Order has that Imperial coldness to it. The trickiest part is just coming up with color schemes that fit the new locations and establish them as something new and unique while having that traditional “Star Wars” feel to them.
We’ve talked broadly about the missions your protagonist will undertake, but can you leave us with some hints and teases about the first adventure you’re sending Poe on?
Soule: As I mentioned, Poe meets up with a sort of cult in the first story, and that’s related to a mission he’s sent on by the Resistance, which is in turn related to Lor San Tekka, the explorer character we saw at the start of “The Force Awakens.” It’s Poe’s first mission with this new secret missions squadron, and it’s pretty action-packed.
Noto: I think people will really enjoy this book as Charles has really nailed the charisma of Poe and it’s exciting to see him as the main character doing more than piloting an X-Wing.
Soule: It’ll be great! We love “Star Wars” as much as anyone, and I think we’re both bringing our A+ game to do it all justice. I can’t wait to hear what people think.