Charles Soule and Phil Noto hand Black Squadron a dangerous mission!

Each week, Star Wars Spotlight combs through the digital archives of Marvel Unlimited to showcase one classic story from that distant galaxy filled with Jedi, Sith, princesses, scoundrels, and droids.

Prior to the silver screen events of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” General Leia Organa gave the Resistance pilots known as Black Squadron a specific and important mission in the pages of POE DAMERON: find Lor San Tekka. And while readers may know what happens at the end of this specific operation, the journey there has proven to be engrossing.

After a blazing start, the second arc of the series, which ran from issues #47, began with a celebration on D’Qar after Poe Dameron and Black Squadron made it back alive from a dangerous raid across the galaxy. The team, however, realized that they had trouble in their ranks, as the enemy seemed to know their destinations almost immediately after their arrival. Nonetheless, following Leia’s orders, they proceeded to Megalox, a prison that housed Grakkus the Hutt—a contact of San Tekka.

Poe Dameron (2016) #4

Poe Dameron (2016) #4

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Thanks to a prison warden’s flexible ethics, the Resistance group bribed their way into the jail, though upon arriving at the cell, found the First Order’s Agent Terex—Poe Dameron’s nemesis—had arrived before they did. In response to the situation, the wily Hutt told each side that he would provide Lor San Tekka’s location to whomever broke him out of Megalox.

Poe Dameron (2016) #5

Poe Dameron (2016) #5

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Poe and his crew dispatched their droids to work on the prison controls while Terex began his own scheme to harness the other prisoners’ hatred of the Hutt as a means to start a riot. As the resulting mob began to overtake the prison, BB-8 and a team of astromech droids hacked into the jail’s network before disabling the prison’s Grav-Field Dome. As the Dome shut down, chaos ensued, allowing Black Squadron to abduct Grakkus and leave the planet. Terex, however, managed to summon his own ship and followed.

Poe Dameron (2016) #6

Poe Dameron (2016) #6

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Furious at his rivals’ success, Terex decided to fly his ship directly through the prison’s control satellite. Instead of leaving the people of the prison to suffer the consequences, Poe led Black Squadron into a counterattack on the evil agent’s ship. Damaged from the ensuing fight, the First Order craft retreated and jumped to lightspeed.

From the Jedi Temple Archives

If Grakkus the Hutt seemed familiar to readers of the current era of Star Wars comics, that’s because he first appeared in the pages of STAR WARS during the “Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon” story. Not long after the Battle of Yavin, Luke Skywalker made his way to Grakkus’ domain and found himself in awe of the Hutt’s collection of Jedi artifacts. Grakkus, however, had something else in his midst: an Imperial spy. That fact led to the Hutt’s imprisonment, where readers would later find him.

Next time, we look back at a story set before the prequel films in STAR WARS: QUI-GON & OBI-WAN – THE AURORIENT EXPRESS.

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Artist Angel Unzueta continues to soar with Poe Dameron and crew!

For Angel Unzueta, drawing STAR WARS: POE DAMERON marks a dream come true. The artist, who’s been a Star Wars fan since his early days, first jumped onto the Charles Soule-written book with issue #7 before taking over as the regular artist with #14.

These days, Unzueta and Soule remain focused on throwing the title character and his Black Squadron into increasingly more dangerous situations. With the November-shipping POE DAMERON #21, the team will mount a very different mission as they commit a jailbreak on orders from General Organa.

We talked with the artist about his continued work with Soule, playing in one of the greatest sandboxes in pop culture, and the responsibility that comes with it. How has it been for you diving so fully into the world of Star Wars with the POE DAMERON series?

Angel Unzueta: It has been really fantastic since I am a big fan of the Star Wars movies. So, if someone would have told me when I was seven years old that one day I could make some canon stuff for the Star Wars Universe, I [would not] have believed him. What would you say are the main differences between working on a super hero book and a Star Wars one?

Angel Unzueta: Well, I think that the difference is what the reader is waiting for about the books. I truly believe that the Star Wars reader wants to feel inside the Star Wars Universe like he feels when he is watching the movies. Because of that, the realism for me is so important. But, at the same time, we need to make a comic book so sometimes it is really difficult, but a big, fun challenge at the same time. What’s the design process like for coming up with the new races or characters seen in this book?

Angel Unzueta: Really fun! As I told you, feeling inside that canon universe and putting something yours there is just amazing. How has it been working with Charles on the series so far?

Angel Unzueta: Charles is, without any doubt, the scriptwriter with whom I have worked the most fluently with. He visualizes the stories from a very cinematographic view and therefore it is very easy for me to graphically interpret what he is imagining. He is always open to suggestions and is very easy to work with. On the other side, I am a big fan of him, so it is great to give life to his stories.

Charles Soule and Angel Unzueta send our hero off on a new mission in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #21 on November 29.

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Charles Soule runs down the talented squad Poe has watching his back.

Resistance pilot Poe Dameron’s embarking on a new mission in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #21, out November 21, and he’s going to need all the help he can get to score his ultimate target, the mysterious Lor San Tekka.

Good thing Black Squadron’s got his back.

They’ve had their ups and downs over the course of the series, even lost members, but the men, women, and droid of Black Squadron also have someone to back them up, namely writer Charles Soule. He knows the ins and outs of their strengths and weaknesses, and he’s ready to tip his hand to light them up for your illumination and edification.

“Temmin ‘Snap’ Wexley has been fighting evil in the galaxy since he was a little kid, as we saw from Chuck Wendig’s great ‘Aftermath’ trilogy of Star Wars novels, set right after ‘Return of the Jedi,’” says Soule. “He fought the Empire, and knows how important it is to prevent anything like them from rising again. So, he’s got enormous strength and resolve. He can be a little impulsive, though—he’s not always in control of his emotions—and it gets him into trouble.”

Poe Dameron (2016) #21

Poe Dameron (2016) #21

“Jessika Pava is fantastic!” raves Soule. “I love writing her. She’s a gearhead, who’s always tinkering with her ship and modifying it to make everything run more powerfully, better, faster. She talks tough and fights tougher. That also lends itself to her main weakness, though, which is that she always needs to feel like she’s in control—that stems from events in her childhood. If she doesn’t, her effectiveness goes way down, to the point where she almost collapses, psychologically.”

“Karé Kun is just one of those hyper-competent badasses you want on your side in a fight” Soule offers. “She’s been flying with Poe since before the Resistance was formed, and knows her job inside and out. However, sometimes she gets too job-focused, and forgets she isn’t just part of a machine. Black Squadron is a fighting force, but it’s also sort of a family, and she’s not always sensitive to that.”

“BB-8 has no flaws!” insists Soule. “He is all strength, and I will hear nothing different!”

“Suralinda Javos is extremely smart, she can handle herself in a fight and, oh yeah, she can spit venom—literally,” Soule says. “Sura was a journalist in the New Republic, and an old friend of Poe’s who has been swayed to the cause of the Resistance by the evil she’s seen committed by the First Order. She’s got a lot of strengths, but she’s also the kind of person who will move into grey areas all the time if it thinks it will help her accomplish her goal. She’s definitely an ‘end justifies the means’ gal. That’s a slippery slope—but I love her anyway.”

Poe Dameron (2016) #22

Poe Dameron (2016) #22

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Charles Soule gives us a Star Wars mission update!

Cue the recap roll! Poe Dameron and his team of elite pilots have been tasked with finding Lor San Tekka, a wise old explorer who may know the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker. Suffice it to say the gang has faced their fair share of trouble along the way, everything from fighting off a glorified bounty hunter to orchestrating a good old fashion prison break, knocking them a bit off track.

But come October 18, writer Charles Soule and artist Angel Unzueta make sure the team gets back on track. “Most of the main threads we’ve been dealing with in the series have been wrapped up, except one – the one that began the book,” says Soule. STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #20 will kick off a six issue story that is, as Soule puts it, “an epic in the great Star Wars tradition.”

So just how far out is Poe from completing his mission? Let’s check the reports!

Operative: Poe Dameron

Commanding Officer: General Leia Organa

Objective: Find Lor San Tekka and determine what he knows about the last remaining Jedi, Luke Skywalker – our only hope.

Progress: Black Squadron has made some great leaps in furthering the resistance’s agenda, most recently securing a fuel transfer for the rebel bases depleting resources and gathering footage of operatives in action to use as a way to rally support for the cause. However, progress toward the major objective has been slow going.

“Poe made progress early in, finding a list of possible locations, but it’s taken a while for the Resistance to work through it and narrow it down,” notes Soule, “C-3PO and his squad of droid operatives have been working through the list trying to see if any of the locations will bear fruit.” Time to lace up your boots and pound the space pavement as the search kicks off anew.

Poe Dameron (2016) #20

Poe Dameron (2016) #20

Deviations: The team has encountered a few hiccups along the way, some more heartbreaking than others. However, “the biggest issue is that Poe made an enemy of an extremely versatile and deadly First Order Security Bureau named Terex,” notes Soule, “This fellow was once an Imperial Stormtrooper, and in the decades since the fall of the Empire made his way through the galaxy by being scarier than anyone else. Not a good person to have trying to hunt you down!”

So far Poe and his team have successfully thwarted the attempts of the First Order to capture them, but with Terex brainwashed into mindlessly following orders, Black Squadron finds it harder and harder to pull of their usual escape just in the knick of time antics.

Next Step: “Survive and thrive…hopefully,” suggests Soule. General Organa has planted a seed in Poe’s mind – the resistance is bigger than just one person. Why is this significant for Poe you may ask? “Poe has lost long-time companions, dealt with traitors, and has been learning the galaxy is a darker, more complex place than he realized,” explains Soule, “He’s understanding that he needs to evolve – that maybe he can’t just be a hotshot pilot anymore. The Resistance needs more – it needs a leader.”

Will Poe find Lor San Tekka and become the leader the Resistance needs? Find out on October 18 in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #20, written by Charles Soule with art by Angel Unzueta!

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Charles Soule crafts a new villain for the Star Wars galaxy!

STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #16 hits on June 28, and writer Charles Soule looks to introduce readers to Malarus, a new villain whom the Resistance’s greatest pilot will need to contend with as he and Black Squadron continue in their struggle against the First Order.

Given the strength of the villains of the Star Wars universe, we spoke with Soule about what goes into creating the right kind of scum to pit against the galaxy’s finest. The fact that the First Order consists of a massive federation with many, many people willingly supporting it rarely gets addressed. Do you see everyone in the First Order as completely evil and in need of a boltcaster shot? Or can readers can empathize with these villainous characters?

Charles Soule: The First Order is a pretty monstrous group, I think. As I see it, they’re not just a powerful military force, but they think they’re better. They’re inculcated from birth to believe that they are destined to rule the galaxy by virtue of their strength and superiority in all sorts of ways—and I think that goes from the lowest Stormtrooper all the way to the top with General Hux and Kylo Ren. That’s a recipe for all sorts of terrible acts, as we’ve seen in the films, comics, etc. They think they’re justified. That said, if you make the bad guys too one-sided they become less interesting. So, the trick is to stay true to the somewhat ravenous nature of the First Order’s ideology while also populating their ranks with people that are a bit relatable. You might not agree with what they do—hopefully—but you can see how a person can get there. We’ve seen the rise of different types of villains in the Star Wars universe; from more nuanced, complicated characters like Darth Vader and Kylo Ren to those like the completely corrupted Emperor Palpatine. Which type do you find more compelling as both a fan and as a writer?

Charles Soule: It’s interesting that you consider Palpatine less complex, and I can see that; he has one goal, and he’s going to get there no matter what: ultimate power. But, he’s just so skilled and subtle in the way he achieves that goal; evil is his instrument, and he is an absolute virtuoso. He’s one of my all-time favorite characters to write in all of Star Wars. That said, Vader and Kylo are very cool too, and it is that slight underpinning of moral complexity that gets us there. Obviously they’re all a blast to write—but something in Palpatine just speaks to me. I’m not sure what that says about me, though. Now, from a more conceptual standpoint, can you share a little of the challenges you face in fleshing out this still-new terrain surrounding the “Force Awakens” era?

Charles Soule: The biggest challenge is really that the story here isn’t done yet. There are still many questions yet to be answered about the First Order, the nature of the Force in this era, Luke’s deal, the Knights of Ren, even basic stuff like the logistics for the Resistance and the government of the New Republic. We’ve gotten bits and pieces of that from “The Force Awakens” and various additional stories—novels, comics, etc.—but the story’s still being written. In the original trilogy and prequel era stuff, most of those questions are settled, and have been for decades. Sometimes, writing in the new trilogy is like sailing through a fog-covered sea—but it’s awesome nevertheless because it’s uncharted territory. Many times, if a question hasn’t been answered yet, I get to answer it. That’s a really great thing.

Star Wars: Poe Dameron #16 cover by Phil Noto Of course, with new territory comes new characters: heroes and villains. Can you unpack the process of creating a villain to go toe-to-toe with the Resistance’s best, Poe Dameron?

Charles Soule: I’ve made up two significant bad guys to face Poe so far. One is Agent Terex, an officer in the First Order Security Bureau—sort of like their Gestapo/intelligence-gathering arm—who has a rich, layered history that goes all the way back to the days of the Empire. I’ve had 15 issues to build him up, and he’s one of my favorite creations period. He’s a monster, but he’s tragic at the same time. Then, we have Commander Malarus, who we’ve only just started to get to know. She’s pretty unique, sort of like a sadistic bodybuilder type. I asked [series artist] Phil Noto to model her after Brigitte Nielsen in “Rocky IV,” and he came through perfectly as always. She’s physically very imposing, sadistic in a very direct way, which is unlike Terex, who’s perhaps a bit more subtle in his manipulations. If Terex is a rapier, Malarus is a big two-handed claymore. In both cases, the idea is to present someone who’s a good foil both for Poe’s skill set and his personality, who you really want to see get a comeuppance. Villains are always fun. Let’s pretend for a moment that you aren’t really a mild-mannered lawyer-turned-comic writer, and instead, you’re nefarious evildoer from a galaxy far, far away. How would you go about taking down Poe Dameron?

Charles Soule: I’d hit Poe right where he lives. I’d go after BB-8. And maybe his jacket. To wrap things up, can you give us any hints as to how you think Poe will escape the plans you’ve hatched for him?

Charles Soule: There’s a certain plotline we started the series with, related to a certain galactic explorer who possesses a key portion of a map leading to a certain lost Jedi warrior, and—I’m talking about Lor San Tekka. I haven’t forgotten about that story, and while Poe’s been on a million adventures since we last saw him dealing with all of that, we’ll be getting back to it soon. I can’t wait; I love exploring the weirder, Force-related corners of the galaxy. Should be a blast!

See more of Commander Malarus in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #16, due out June 28 from Charles Soule and Angel Unzueta!

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Grounded, the ace Resistance pilot decides to visit a therapist.

Poe Dameron is an adult male who present as in above average physical health, a perception confirmed by his medical records.

While the client’s reputation precedes him, this is the first time this writer has seen Dameron in a professional setting. Given his status as arguably the best pilot of the Resistance and the numerous accolades he has received over the years, this writer does admit I experienced a certain level of celebrity gazing early in session. I did, however, quickly overcome this and was able to engage with the client in a therapeutically appropriate manner.

The client has been grounded by General Organa following a largely successful mission that nonetheless resulted in the death of a colleague and the loss, to the First Order, of the target they were pursuing. This therapist expected, therefore, that the presenting issue(s) would be related to grief and loss and possibly feelings of guilt and failure.

Initially, that is where the intake began. However, as session progressed, the client became more engaged and open and disclosed that actually what he found himself most concerned with was the General’s charge that he be more than the best pilot, that he find the one thing that would make him invaluable to the Republic and the Resistance.

Poe Dameron #15 cover by Phil Noto

We explored the notion of taking on a more active leadership role, of accepting himself as not just a man giving orders, but a figure of inspiration. The client confessed he had never seen himself in this way and even now struggled to see how others might. Additionally, it was not necessarily a role he aspired to. He loves being a pilot and being known as the best; why does he need to be more than that?

Together we discussed what it meant to him to be “the best” and what it would look like to, in some ways, sacrifice that for a new role—a role that would be both more and less than being the best pilot.

Overall, the client presents as smart and insightful. Although he does have some hesitance to disclose and was resistant at moments, overall he seemed engaged in the therapeutic process and open to the possibility of it being helpful to him.

Given my age and already heavy caseload, I referred Poe Dameron to my colleagues Doctors Charles Soule and Angel Unzueta, and Doctors Robbie Thompson and Nik Virella. His first session with them is scheduled for May 17 to be followed by a second session on June 21. The data for those will be uploaded to the memory units labeled POE DAMERON #15 and POE DAMERON ANNUAL #1 respectively.

Star Wars Tim Stevens is aware his continuity must be confusing. Just imagine that after the fall of the Empire, he found the Force, renounced his previous ways, and joined the Republic to make up for his past ethically dubious choices.

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The Resistance’s ace pilot takes on a bold new mission!

Each week Star Wars Spotlight combs through the digital archives of Marvel Unlimited to showcase one classic story from that distant galaxy filled with Jedi, Sith, princesses, scoundrels and droids.

For a guy who skipped out on a significant portion of “The Force Awakens,” Poe Dameron sure scored a lot of fans in his first big screen outing. Charles Soule and Phil Noto also saw the potential in the character, launching an ongoing series in 2016 that lead up to his appearance in the film.

To kick things off General Leia Organa sent Poe Dameron and BB-8 on a mission to find Lor San Tekka and get the information he had about Luke Skywalker’s location, which lead directly into the beginning of “Force Awakens.” To complete the task, Poe put together a team that included Snap Wexley, Karé Kun, L’ulo, and Jess Pava. They then traveled to Tekka’s last known location: the planet Ovanis. While Dameron and BB-8 tried to get information from the cosmic egg-worshipping, underground dwellers dubbed the Créche about Lor San Tekka, the others flew around above where they soon spotted a First Order ship that followed a tracker placed on Poe’s craft!

Lead by Agent Terex, a squad of Stormtroopers descended below the surface to track down Dameron. Captain Phasma herself ordered this mission after Poe intercepted sensitive information in the pages of the “Before the Awakening” novel. As his friends flew interference above, our hero tried getting the upper hand on Terex, but he had his Troopers start fire blasting the egg. To everyone’s surprise, the object of worship opened to reveal a giant, blue, winged creature who didn’t seem to appreciate being hatched. Dameron used the distraction to gain the upper hand, though that went out the window when another giant creature, this one black, also appeared in the cavern.

Poe Dameron (2016) #1

Poe Dameron (2016) #1

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The two giants took off into the air, crashing through the ceiling of their underground dwelling where one killed the other. The timing could not have been better as Black Squadron had been running low on fuel from their battles with the New Order’s TIE Fighters. In the end, the Créche gave Poe the information he needed about where Lor San Tekka headed after staying with them and then took off on their newly hatched god. Black Squadron left Agent Terex and his men in the cavern, but alerted their ship upon leaving for the next location.

And that’s just the first three issues of STAR WARS: POE DAMERON!

From the Jedi Temple Archives

Temmin “Snap” Wexley not only appears alongside the title character in POE DAMERON, but also in “The Force Awakens” as portrayed by longtime J.J. Abrams collaborator Greg Grunberg, and in Chuck Wendig’s “Aftermath” novels. The first installment of the latter takes place between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens” and introduces the reader to Snap’s mother, a Rebel pilot named Norra Wexley, and a younger version of Temmin on his home planet Akiva. Norra continued leading her squadron on missions in “Aftermath: Life Debt” while young Temmin also continued to embark on adventures.

Next time, Ron Marz chronicles the connection between STAR WARS: JANGO FETT and STAR WARS: ZAM WESELL with Tom Fowler and Ted Naifeh!

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Get familiar with some of Star Wars’ most elite pilots!

The newest bad guy network set on controlling the galaxy is on the rise and it’s up to the Black Squadron to outsmart them in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #13, written by Charles Soule with art by Phil Noto and coming out April 19. Want to know more about these selfless heroes? Let’s take a look!

Poe Dameron – This dashingly debonair pilot fearlessly leads Black Squadron with his own blend of high stakes decisions and cheeky one-liners. Following in his parents’ footsteps, Dameron left the Republic’s Starfleet to join the rebellion after General Leia Organa recruited him. He quickly became one of her most skilled and trusted operatives and assumed the task of putting together an elite team to track down Lor San Tekka and smooth talk his way to uncovering the location of Luke Skywalker, who has taken over the role of Leia’s only hope.

L’ulo – The grandfather of the group, but don’t let him catch you saying that. L’ulo is a battle warn hothead not afraid to defy orders if he thinks he knows better, which he usually does. He’s a bit of a grumpy gill but his years fighting in the Alliance have given him that right. During that time L’ulo became close with Shara Bey, Poe’s mother, and even stepped in to help raise him after her sudden death. Nothing like a somewhat endearing, semi-father-son dynamic to add a little tension to the group.

Temmin “Snap” Wexley – Poe’s right hand man and occasional comic relief, Snap, grew up on his own after Imperial forces captured his father and his mother left to join the Rebel Alliance. He learned to fend for himself working as a junk dealer on the streets of his home planet before rejoining his mother to fight against the remaining Empire forces. His combination of street smarts and fighting experience make him an invaluable member of the team. Plus he adds some adorable cheese ball moments romancing fellow squad member Karé Kun.

Oddy Muva – A classic case of a guy doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, Oddy works as the team’s mechanical tech with aspirations of becoming a pilot. Though the team might be better served finding a way to keep that mechanical genius on lock. Unfortunately, while he’s the last person Poe would suspect of being a First Order informant, it does sadly seem to be the case, as we’ve learned that the First Order officer Terex holds his wife hostage as leverage against Oddy.

Karé Kun – A seasoned Resistance fighter, Karé flew alongside Poe in the New Republic Navy as a member of Rapier Squadron and you can bet he’d trust her with his life—and has. She’s driven, remarkably talented, and one tough cookie who likes to let you know it, but don’t be surprised to hear her crack a joke with her teammates. After all, she does reserve all the teasing rights to Snap.

Jessika “Jess” Pava – The bad girl of the group, Jess likes to live on the edge and prepare herself for any situation. She has a knack for mechanics as her and Oddy like trying experimental modifications out on her ship. If it were her choice she would always have her weapons and never lose control of the situation at hand which makes for a great balance to Poe’s “make it up as you go along” attitude. And while she has an effective tactical mind and stands out as a great pilot, she also adds a needed sass to the group dynamic.

Catch the whole team back in action April 19 in STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #13 by Charles Soule and Phil Noto!   

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Chris Eliopoulos takes on the dynamic droid with a special back-up story in Poe Dameron!

He rolled off the screen and into our hearts in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and now he’s parlayed that forward momentum into his own solo comic book story. BB-8, everyone’s new favorite Star Wars droid, rolls into a special back-up tale in POE DAMERON #1, written and illustrated by famed cartoonist Chris Eliopoulos.

Here’s a little sneak-peek behind the scenes of BB-8’s first big adventure on his own: Chris, how did the BB-8 story roll out?

Chris Eliopoulos: I’ve been a long-time Star Wars fan. I’ve written and drawn a couple stories in the past and editor Jordan D. White, knowing of my love, felt it would be fun for me to do a back-up story for the new POE DAMERON comic. He basically called me up and asked if I was interested in doing a short BB-8 story—which, of course, I was. I wrote up a number of story pitches that he, assistant editor Heather Antos, and Lucasfilm looked [at] and decided which they liked. So, roll the story up into a little ball; what’s it all about?

Chris Eliopoulos: It’s a cupid story. Our intrepid droid bring two people together in a way only a droid can. You’re really on a roll now—who’s BB to you? What’s the most important thing about his character to convey when drawing him?

Chris Eliopoulos: He’s a well-meaning child. He’s trying his best with everything, but, as we see in the movie, he can be a little petulant, but his heart is in the right place. So, I tried to think what a child would do in his place and convey that. Rolling right along, from a design standpoint, does he lend himself to your layouts or do you feel he’s a challenge to work with?

Chris Eliopoulos: He’s a wonderfully simple character to draw. The hardest part is just making sure the head and body dimensions are correct. If you’re off, even in a cartoony way, it looks wrong. Being more cartoony, I can use the animators’ idea of squash and stretch to convey emotions. But you can’t go too far—he’s a robot. What other Star Wars droids would you love to roll into similar type tales?

Chris Eliopoulos: I’m a huge R2-D2 fan. I have close to a hundred astromech action figures, etc. My studio is filled with them. I’d love to do an R2-D2/BB-8 buddy story. I’d love to do a Gonk droid story. 2-1B, R5-D4, Captain Rex from the Star Tours ride, Treadwell—the list goes on forever. Heck, I’d love to do a Wall-E type book about the droids. I’m greedy.

Catch Chris Eliopoulos and BB-8 in the pages of POE DAMERON #1, coming April 6!

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Phil Noto shares his work in this Star Wars sketchbook!

Rocketing to your galaxy April 6, STAR WARS: POE DAMERON represents the very first spin-off from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” OBI-WAN AND ANAKIN writer Charles Soule teams with CHEWBACCA artist Phil Noto to tell a tale of the Resistance’s greatest pilot before the events of the blockbuster film—and we’ve got an exclusive look at Noto’s art, as well as his thoughts on the series, right here, right now! Phil, you get to work with the new characters from “The Force Awakens”; how does that feel?

Phil Noto: I’m incredibly honored to be one of the first creators to work on these characters in the comics. It’s a bit intimidating since it was such a popular film and people really like the new characters. I’m happy to have drawn many of them for the young adult novels so at least I’ve had a little bit of practice. It’s all very close to my dreams as a 4th grader to some day work on Star Wars. When drawing Poe, what did you feel was the most important aspect of his personality to convey in his visuals? What stands out to you?

Phil Noto: I think his bravery and cockiness are a huge part of his personality and trying to get that across in his expressions and mannerisms was a priority. I should add though, that you will never come across someone harder to draw than Oscar Isaac. He has uncommon features that when put together just right make a very handsome leading man. But it’s also very easy to make him look like Gollum. [SPIDER-GWEN writer] Jason Latour [and I] had a lengthy test conversation about the near-impossible task of drawing a good Oscar. That being said, I think I’ve done a pretty good job capturing the essence of Oscar/Poe. You’re of course working a lot with X-Wing fighters; what do you enjoy about it and what did you find challenging?

Phil Noto: Between the Lucasfilm provided ref and the amazingly accurate plastic toy version it’s been quite easy. The biggest challenge is trying to simplify all the details on it. How are you approaching the covers for this series? What did you really want to achieve with them?

Phil Noto: I’m just trying to find that happy place between the old Star Wars paperback novels and the later Drew Struzan novel covers. I just want to live up the standard of quality Star Wars publishing art that has been set throughout the years. Looking at Charles’ scripts for the series, what kinds of things did he do that you really loved? Where are the places that really set you loose as an artist?

Phil Noto: Charles has a great knack for conveying the personality of the characters in the script whether they’re human, alien, or droid. It really helps when I sit down to draw or design them. Also, being able to design First Order tech is quite a thrill. Single most favorite page or panel of POE DAMERON #1?

Phil Noto: I don’t want to give anything away but there’s a very cool flashback page of Poe pre-mission that was a lot of fun to draw.

STAR WARS: POE DAMERON #1 by Charles Soule and Phil Noto soars your way on April 6!

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