"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" opens with Resistance pilot Poe Dameron meeting Lor San Tekka on the planet Jakku in search of information about the missing Luke Skywalker. In "Star Wars: Poe Dameron" #1, writer Charles Soule rolls back the clock to a time not so long ago, just before that meeting. Soule and artist Phil Noto introduce readers to Poe and his Black Squadron as they embark on their inaugural assignment in this debut issue, which expands on the new mythos and explores the characters introduced in the film.
Noto's crisp style is well suited to the "Star Wars" universe. Poe's X-Wing fighter looks as though it's straight out of the movie, right down to its eye-catching colors. Noto's choreography for Poe's fighter is tight, laying out panels like still frames from the film, which gives his pages a cinematic punch. It's not just the tech that looks sharp, though; Noto's characters also seem to have stepped right out of "The Force Awakens." Poe is his charming, handsome self, and the other main players who make an appearance are also faithful to the actors' likenesses. Soule's dialogue blends organically with Noto's renderings, so that readers can hear the lines in the actors' voices.
Soule admirably lives up to the challenge of managing a licensed property and all of its inherent restrictions. Poe's characterization is played safely within the context established in the movie, without any real surprises or attempts to advance his character, but it's a smart move to feature the character this way; Soule welcomes readers with a familiar face without alienating them. Soule also introduces a new group of characters that fit well into the existing space, yet still feel fresh. This gives the issue some flavor, keeping it from seeming like nothing more than recycled elements from the film. Noto's designs for the new characters also offer a freshness that expands on the feel of the franchise without going against the look established in the film.
Chris Eliopoulos and Jordie Bellaire follow up Soule and Noto's story with the lighthearted but charming BB-8 backup story "SaBBotage," where the lovable little droid finds himself in an unlikely role. Eliopoulos' Bill Watterson-esque style is a perfect fit for a cute and comedic BB-8 story, giving the droid an adorable personality that will make readers who already loved the roly-poly robot a reason adore him even more.
"Star Wars: Poe Dameron" #1 is a conservative but well-executed take on a fan-favorite character from "The Force Awakens." Its faithfulness is enough to win over readers, but its baby steps forward won't scare them away, either.