The Galaxy in Comics is a deep dive into the events and themes of one recent Star Wars comic. In this installment, StarWars.com checks out Poe Dameron#31, the final issue in the series.
Spoiler warning: This story contains details and plot points from Poe Dameron #31.
It’s Black Squadron versus a First Order Star Destroyer and a fleet of TIE fighters above a far away planet and there’s nothing Poe Dameron can do to save his friends. So he watches Jess Pava’s possible final transmission and hope it doesn’t end with her death. Or is there a way he can still help his team?
When the Poe Dameron comic series first started, Star Wars fans didn’t know much about the pilots who flew alongside the famed Resistance fighter. Over the course of thirty-one issues, we’ve journeyed with Poe, Jess, Snap, Karé, and Suralinda as they’ve searched for Lor San Tekka, tangled with Agent Terex, bartered with a Hutt, and fought back against the tyranny of the First Order at every opportunity. Every bump along the way — mourning the loss of a comrade or dealing with the betrayal of another — has led to this final moment: Black Squadron will either survive to fight another day or be added to the list of revered yet dead heroes of the Resistance.
In the comic’s final arc, writer Charles Soule and artist Angel Unzueta have taken us beyond the events of both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, as Poe recounted his adventures both on and off the screen to whoever aboard the Millennium Falcon was willing to listen. The story also expanded upon what’s happened to Black Squadron since last we saw them on D’Qar. At the end of issue #30, it wasn’t looking good for our favorite group of Resistance pilots.
During the wait for #31, we were left wondering if Suralinda Javos had perished due to the gaping hole in her chest. Thankfully, she was only wounded and survived not just the injury but through the end of the issue. The series has been no stranger to heartbreak, but a relatively upbeat ending could not be more fitting. Just this once, everyone we’ve grown to love gets to live. The Resistance has already faced more than enough loss over the last few days. As Leia observes, they can almost count the number of surviving members on their fingers. Another death would have been truly tragic not just for Poe, but for all of us.
Instead, they succeed in their mission to find allies and bring a new planet to the Resistance’s cause, adding a sense of optimism to future viewings of The Last Jedi; if Black Squadron could find allies, there could very well be more out there. By giving Black Squadron a last, significant victory against the First Order, Poe Dameron #31 neatly mirrors the final moment of hope in the film. As Poe says, “We can still win. In fact, in some ways, the Resistance has just begun.” It’s a genuinely beautiful page (and piece of art by Unzueta and colorist Arif Prianto) to mark the end of the series.
Poe Dameron #31 connects with The Last Jedi on far more than just an emotional level. It reminds us how chaotic everything has been for most of the galaxy since Poe met Lor San Tekka on Jakku not long ago. The First Order officers aboard the attacking Star Destroyer haven’t heard about the Holdo Maneuver and are shocked by the news of Supreme Leader Snoke’s demise. One officer even wonders if that means maybe Hux is in charge now and, oh boy, would he have been in for a surprise if their ship had managed to escape! It’s small details like that that really bind the universe together and make it feel so real.
Of course, it’s not a Black Squadron story without Snap, Karé, Jess, and now Suralinda. The last few issues have worked so well because this book has consistently made us care about what happens to each one of them. Both Snap and Jess are now more than just random pilots who help take out Starkiller Base. Jess particularly benefited from the comic as her family’s encounter with pirates gives her every reason to fight back against those who would control others. Despite her notoriously bad luck with astromechs, she’s also a brilliant mechanic and Poe never would’ve been able to pull off his Dreadnaught stunt if it hadn’t been for her work. Snap’s grown from being just a kid from Akiva into a leader who runs things when Poe can’t.
Soule also takes the opportunity to tie up one last loose end left over from The Last Jedi. While the movie makes it clear Poe and Leia are on good terms again by the time they leave Crait, his demotion still lingered. By page three, Leia promotes him to Commander once more as she authorizes his rescue mission, a contrast to the literal slap-in-the-face incident on screen. The events have also shifted his perspective that led to the original demotion. “I don’t think it’s about heroes. I used to,” he says. “It’s not about saving the galaxy. It’s about saving your galaxy.” This isn’t something he would have said and truly meant back when the comic first began.
One of the joys of comic books is that, much like television, we live with these characters and see them so consistently that they can start to feel like old friends. That’s part of why, after two and a half years, it can be so difficult to say goodbye to a comic that’s been a dependable delight for so long. But say farewell we must.
So long, Poe Dameron. It’s been one heck of a flight and I’ll definitely miss seeing you on the comic book store shelves.
Bria LaVorgna is a writer who doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t love Star Wars. She also really loves Alderaan, Doctor Aphra, and Inferno Squad. You can follow her on Twitter @chaosbria.