At the end of "Star Wars: Poe Dameron" #1, our hero had taken refuge among the CrÃ¨che, a cave settlement dedicated to the safety of a massive blue egg, while Black Squadron circled the skies above. Charles Soule and Phil Noto waste no time getting readers back into the thick of things and hurl us into an exciting adventure.
It takes exactly two pages to introduce Agent Terex, the new antagonist. He is equal parts Lando Calrissian and moustache-twirling Bond villain, with a penchant for confident boasts and a flamboyant cadence. Soule masterfully frames the issue around Terex, who yearns for the cold, strict nature of the Empire of old. He is calculated and conniving in the best possible way, and -- when he forces Poe out of hiding with an aggressive move -- it's easy to forget to breathe. Not to be left out, the members of Black Squadron weigh their choices and Soule clues us in on some of the rules of the Resistance, namely: do not engage unless fired upon. Perhaps this hints at a cease fire put in place post-"Star Wars: Return of the Jedi," but only future "Star Wars" stories will tell us for sure; in the meantime, the issue rounds out with one heck of a cliffhanger, which will make readers ache for the next issue.
Not to be outdone, Phil Noto takes us on a beautiful journey. From cover-to-cover, his mastery of facial likenesses brings these characters to life; his faces are so spot-on for both Dameron and BB-8 that it's easy to feel like you're watching "The Force Awakens" as you read. Noto also successfully nails the mood of each scene with a natural palette, whether it's the slimy feel of Terex's negotiations with the CrÃ¨che, the bright blue of First Order Stormtrooper jetpacks or the distant, professional relationship between Terex and the First Order officers. In the only battle scene of the issue, the pilots' passion for flying leaps right off the page. "Poe Dameron" #2 even wins my favorite panel layout of the week near the end of the issue, where Terex flips the tables on the Resistance. Joe Caramagna's letters work well in this issue, stressing the details in especially strained moments between characters; special kudos must also be given to BB-8's dialogue, as Caramagna successfully illustrates the droid whispering. It's downright precious.
On the whole, "Poe Dameron" #2 adds even more perfect world-building to the lovingly crafted new Expanded Universe. There's care in every detail, from character likenesses to callbacks in the names of ships to footnotes about the novels. If you've enjoyed what Marvel has offered so far in their "Star Wars" titles, "Poe Dameron" will not disappoint.