Near the end of The Last Jedi, with the Resistance hiding in a fortified base on Crait, General Leia Organa says to use her personal code calling for help. It’s a desperate plea for help, one that if unanswered would lead to the imminent demise of the Resistance. As Leia says, “If there are any allies to the Resistance, it’s now or never.”
Plenty of people heard the transmission, but none of them came. Only one ally of the Resistance showed up, but he proved to be the strongest one. Luke Skywalker arrived, halting the First Order in its tracks and allowing Leia and the Resistance to escape.
But what about those other allies? We know that there are other allies out there, but what happened to them? Why didn’t they show up? And more specifically, why didn’t Black Squadron show up?
The terrific Poe Dameron comic series, written by Charles Soule and illustrated by Phil Noto, wrapped up its 31-issue run a few weeks ago with the final chapter of the seventh book, “The Awakening.” This book, consisting of six issues, is set post-The Last Jedi and explores the interaction between Poe, Rey, Finn, and others while revisiting details from the sequel trilogy. But near the end, we find out what happened to Black Squadron, why they weren’t able to provide help, and read the first major post-TLJ story.
Obviously, if you haven’t read it for yourself, ***spoilers are ahead.***
Wasting little time after the destruction of Starkiller Base, General Leia Organa tasked Snap Wexley, Jessika Pava, and others from Black Squadron with gathering the remaining New Republic commanders (after the destruction of the Hosnian system) and other allies of the Resistance, while Leia, Poe, and others stayed behind to evacuate D’Qar. This explains where these pilots were during the events of The Last Jedi and why they didn’t fly in the evacuation of the planet, as they were off on another mission trying to recruit allies to their cause.
They didn’t meet with much success, however, and eventually found themselves arriving at the planet Ikkrukk to recruit allies, only to discover that the First Order had taken control. Snap led the fight in the air to distract the numerous First Order forces, while Pava led the infiltration on the ground to take control of the city’s shield. Unfortunately, the latter part went all wrong, which was the last transmission Poe Dameron received from them. Aboard the Millennium Falcon, he urgently went to Leia to ask that they help. Leia refused, saying that she had to weigh the risks and that taking what was left of the Resistance would be too dangerous. If she made any wrong move, it would mean the end of the Resistance. Poe convinced Leia to let him go, arguing that she wanted him to be more than a pilot and be a leader, and that he didn’t want to leave anybody behind. Leia told him that he couldn’t take the Falcon, but that he could go.
So Poe borrowed a ship from Grakkus the Hutt (!) and took off for Ikkrukk, arriving just in time to help Black Squadron save the day and destroy the First Order star destroyer. The First Order officers were surprised at Dameron’s arrival, as they had heard reports that he and the rest of the Resistance were killed at D’Qar. Poe informs the officers that he is alive, but that Snoke is not and that the Supremacy and other destroyers are gone. The officers are unsure whether it is true, and if so who is in charge.
Having helped rescue the city, the people of Ikkrukk pledge their allegiance to the Resistance. Poe tells the others from Black Squadron that the way they’re going to win is by ordinary people rising up and fighting back, and the series ends with the squadron looking up at the stars, with Poe saying, “the Resistance has just begun,” while the artwork beautifully depicts Leia, Rey, Finn, Chewbacca, Rose, R2-D2, C-3PO, Nien Nunb, Kaydel Ko Connix, and C’ai Threnalli.
There are a number of things that I find significant about the ending to this comic series:
- It explains where Black Squadron was during The Last Jedi. They were off on a mission given to them by Leia, trying to recruit other allies to the Resistance and try to unify remaining New Republic officers.
- It explains why they didn’t come to the Resistance’s aid at Crait. They were out of communication and were in dire trouble themselves, having not had any luck recruting allies and having found themselves embroiled in conflict with another First Order cell.
- It shows Poe’s promotion. During The Last Jedi Leia demoted Poe Dameron from commander to captain for his dreadnaught attack. But in the final issue of this comic, we see Poe once again promoted to commander. In many ways this is just symbolic, since the Resistance doesn’t have many people left and thus Poe is already a de facto leader. But this is also important to show that he is regaining Leia’s trust, and that she truly wants to see him grow into a leader. She promotes him to commander and trusts his judgment to go save Black Squadron.
- It features the first major post-TLJ story we’ve heard. I assume that we’ll get some other material leading up to Episode IX that helps us fill in some gaps, especially if there’s as much of a time gap as many speculate there will be. But the Poe Dameron comic gives us our first true look at the galaxy post-TLJ, and most of it focuses on the surviving Resistance aboard the Millennium Falcon. But Poe goes after Black Squadron, and the encounter against the First Order on Ikkrukk is the first major post-TLJ battle we have heard of. I assume it won’t be the last.
- It highlights the disarray of the First Order. One of the more interesting aspects of the final issue was Poe’s conversation with the First Order officers aboard the star destroyer in orbit above Ikkrukk. They had been told that the Resistance had been wiped out at D’Qar and that Poe Dameron was dead. Obviously, that isn’t true. They had been lied to. But Poe also reveals another bit of information they didn’t know: Snoke was dead, the Supremacy was destroyed, and their fleet had taken massive damage. One of the First Order officers wonders who then is in charge, with another speculating that it must be General Hux. Another officer, however, assumes that Poe must be lying. It’s interesting to think of the First Order finding out about the death of their supreme leader. Is Kylo Ren intentionally spreading misinformation about it, or has news just not reached this part of the galaxy yet? And if members of the First Order find out that they’re being lied to or misled, will that lead to some dissension amongst their ranks leading into Episode IX?
- It reveals allies to the Resistance. One of the newfound allies to the Resistance are the people of Ikkrukk, who pledge their loyalties to the cause after Poe and Black Squadron aid them. But there’s another ally revealed, and it is much more surprising: Grakkus the Hutt! Grakkus was a key figure at one point in the Star Wars comic line, which introduced us to the Hutt. He was imprisoned, but decades later Poe and Black Squadron broke him out of prison to help with their search for Lor San Tekka. It seems that Grakkus is willing to help the Resistance because of that. He lends Poe a ship, and it is quite interesting that one of their few (known) allies at this time is Grakkus.
- It provides us a hint of what we may see in Episode IX. Poe mentions at the very end of the series something that might be important when Episode IX rolls around: “I don’t think it’s about heroes. I used to. Got that idea burned right out of me. It’s not about the Jedi, or the best pilots in the galaxy winning against impossible odds. It’s not about saving the galaxy. It’s about saving your galaxy. The one within your reach. You choose right over wrong. When it’s dark, you try to bring some light. You end your journey knowing you made things brighter. If everyone made that choice… well… I think everyone can. Maybe they just need to see how you do it. I think that’s the fight.” Why do I point that out? Because I wonder if that will play a role in Episode IX; perhaps the Resistance (and the heroic actions of the legendary Luke Skywalker) will inspire people all throughout the galaxy to take action themselves against tyranny. Perhaps these allies that the Resistance recruit are actually being trained and equipped to fight for themselves. Maybe that’s the way to end the Skywalker saga after all: make it so that the Skywalkers are no longer fighting to defend the galaxy, but the galaxy is fighting to defend itself.