Think back to the ending of Star Wars: The Last Jedi: What’s left of the Resistance is holed up in a dilapidated hangar and the full power of the First Order is about to come knocking at their door. A despondent officer laments that, though their distress signals have been received, no one is coming to save them.
But behind the scenes, there was a Resistance unit gathering the forces necessary to fight another day. That unit was Black Squadron, some of Poe Dameron’s most trusted allies. Thanks to the final issue of Star Wars: Poe Dameron, Marvel’s canon-approved spinoff comic, we now know what went wrong — and right — during that fateful mission.
[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Star Wars: Poe Dameron.]
Wait, who are Black Squadron?
Only the best and most daring group of star pilots (plus a technician and a journalist) in the whole damn Resistance fleet. You may have even spotted some of them in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but they were curiously missing from The Last Jedi.
General Leia formed the original Black Squadron with the express purpose of tracking down Lor San Tekka. You may remember him as that elderly gentleman from the beginning of The Force Awakens, portrayed by veteran Swedish actor Max von Sydow. Leia believed that San Tekka, an explorer and Jedi historian, may have known the location of Luke Skywalker.
She allowed Poe Dameron to hand-pick the members of Black Squadron, so, naturally, he recruited some of his closest friends:
- Karé Kun, reckless leader of the sickest-named flight unit in the Resistance: Stiletto Squadron.
- Snap Wexley, a seasoned flyer trained by Wedge Antilles himself. He and Karé form a playfully competitive friendship which soon becomes a romance and, eventually, a marriage.
- L’ulo Lampar, an A-Wing veteran who flew with Poe’s mother in the Rebellion.
- Jessika Pava, A.K.A. Jess Testor, a resolute pilot who feels most comfortable behind the controls of an X-Wing.
- Oddy Muva, a technician who dreams of earning his wings.
During the Poe Dameron series, L’ulo and Oddy are tragically killed attempting to save the lives of others. Suralinda Javos, an investigative reporter straight out of James Cameron’s Avatar, later takes up L’ulo’s place as the squad’s designated A-Wing pilot.
Snap Wexley and Jess Testor first appeared in The Force Awakens, played by Greg Grunberg (Heroes) and Jessica Henwick (Game of Thrones, Iron Fist) respectively. The others have yet to make their film debut, but judging by the end of Poe Dameron #31, they may be due for at least a cameo in Episode IX.
Rallying the Troops
As revealed in Poe Dameron’s finale, Poe and Black Squadron split up just prior to the opening of The Last Jedi. When the Resistance received word that the First Order had regrouped and was heading their way, Poe resolved to distract the enemy fleet while Black Squadron zipped across the galaxy to gather military support.
But Poe never found out what became of his fellow comrades until after the Battle of Crait. While Poe reminisces with Finn and Rey on the Millennium Falcon, C-3PO arrives with a new transmission from Jess Testor, who relays Black Squadron’s harrowing experience.
Black Squadron’s first mission to the garden world Pastoria was an utter failure. The king basically fooled them into killing his political rival and sent them packing, striking a major blow to their morale.
The furthest Black Squadron got was the planet Ikkrukk, where they received a garbled distress call from the surface. The First Order had already invaded the planet and was bombarding the capital, Grail City. If that wasn’t enough, First Order sympathizers on the ground were destroying the world’s defenses from the inside. Jess and Suralinda managed to fly through a hole in the city’s shields, which greatly impresses Poe. Upon finishing Jess’ first recording, though, he opens up her second entry, which paints Black Squadron in a far more dire situation.
After viewing this unsettling message, Poe somehow convinces General Leia to let him take on one more desperate pursuit and rescue his friends. He then borrows an antique fighter from his precarious ally Grakkus the Hutt and speeds away to Ikkrukk.
As Poe assists Snap and Karé in the air, Jess and Suralinda evade First Order insurgents in the caves of Grail City. The crowd has the two pilots outnumbered and outgunned, but Suralinda uses her, uh, special talents to put the radicals out of commission.
Meanwhile, Poe makes full use of his patented fancy flying by luring a fleet of enemy TIE-Fighters into a single-file line. He then clips the ships’ wings above a First Order cruiser, effectively turning their own TIEs into a payload of bombs. That allows Jess and Suralinda to fire Ikkrukk’s orbital cannons from the ground and pierce the carrier’s underbelly. This two-pronged attack takes out the full force of First Order ships, saving Grail City, the people of Ikkrukk and all of Black Squadron in the process.
At last, Poe and Black Squadron are able to reunite and take pride in their shared victory. The series closes out with Poe relaying to Snap the hard lesson he learned in The Last Jedi. “It’s not about saving the galaxy,” he says, “It’s about saving your galaxy, the one within your reach.”
And so, Poe Dameron ends much as The Last Jedi did: a handful of friends, alive against all odds, with nothing to go on but love and hope. What’s more Star Wars than that?