In the past, coats of arms were used to signify belonging to a certain family. It would include various colors and symbols that would symbolize different occupations, achievements, and qualities that had been shown by the family. Through the years, a family’s coat of arms might change to reflect the new accomplishments or traits of the descendents of the family. As I was writing this article about Poe Dameron and his family, I starting thinking about how his family often served (and still do serve) as a shield to their fellow pilots, soldiers, and citizens of the galaxy who faced the tyranny of the Empire and are still facing the rising threat of the First Order. The image of a shield remained in my mind, super-glued to the right side of my brain, as I reread the Marvel comic Shattered Empire and the Poe Dameron part of the novel Before the Awakening, both written by Greg Rucka. The idea actually became so entrenched in my mind that it led me to create the Dameron coat of arms as an image to help express my thoughts about both Poe and his mother, Shara Bey. As I reread these texts, I became convinced of two key characteristics of the Dameron house: their desire to protect and their connection to the Skywalker family.
If wielded well, a shield protects the person using it. The color black in my Dameron family coat of arms symbolizes the death and destruction brought by the Empire and the First Order. Left unchecked, both groups would crush the liberty of the citizens of the galaxy beneath the boots of their waves of stormtroopers, officers, and disciples of the dark side. The Damerons and all other members of the Rebel Alliance and the Resistance stand against that. The A-wing flown by Shara Bey, Poe’s mother, and X-wing flown by Poe himself stand superimposed on the black of the coat of arms as a sign that they fight to protect the galaxy against the death dealt by the Empire and First Order.
Throughout the comic mini-series Shattered Empire, Shara Bey is shown protecting others. In the first issue, she attacks a Lambda shuttle she sees leaving the Death Star II before finding out that Commander Luke Skywalker is at the controls. She then acts as Luke’s fighter escort as he flies down to the surface of the forest moon of Endor. Without her protection, there is little doubt that even with the Force, Luke would likely have been reduced to little globules of ash sitting in the atmosphere above the Endor moon. He may have been blown apart by an overzealous group of Rebel pilots who spied an Imperial shuttle and let fly their proton torpedoes and concussion missiles before Luke could identify himself as a friendly, or he may have been turned into space debris by the large number of TIE fighters swarming the area. He wasn’t because a Dameron shielded a Skywalker because that’s what Damerons do. They save people through a steely commitment to their chosen cause and a whole lot of fancy flying.
Image from Shattered Empire #1 (Courtesy of Marvel Comics)
In the novel, Before the Awakening, we get to see that protecting was something that Shara continued to do long after the Battle of Endor. Once he becomes a pilot for the New Republic, Poe hears about all the medals Shara was awarded and reads “countless testimonies from fellow pilots, praising her skill, claiming that they owed Poe Dameron’s mother their lives” (134). We also learn that after Shara and her family retired to Yavin IV, “She’d continue to fly [her A-wing] for a couple of years after, mostly in civilian defense” (132). Shara dedicated her life to the protection of others through military service, and the civilians and the men and women who served with her benefitted from it. She expresses her reasons for fighting to Poe when she tells him, “‘ People were hurting,’ … ‘People were suffering. Your father and I couldn’t sit and do nothing” (133). Poe grew up seeing, learning, and admiring two parents who believed that when people were in danger, it was your duty to step in and help any way you could. You were a shield to the poor and downtrodden of the galaxy.
Poe served as an X-wing pilot for the New Republic where he was the leader of Rapier Squadron. In Before the Awakening, Poe states his intention to protect the citizens of the galaxy when he reminds one of his squad mates, “We are members of the New Republic’s navy… Or have you forgotten who it is you signed up to protect?” (139) During their service, Poe and his squadron struggle when they find that the New Republic government does not want to treat the First Order as a credible threat. Poe has taken his parent's lessons to heart. He cannot stand by and watch people suffer, so he disobeys the orders of his superiors and pursues information that will help him combat the First Order.
As a member of the Resistance, Poe consistently acts to protect by putting others’ lives before his own. In Before the Awakening, Poe and two of his pilots, Kare and Iolo, find themselves on a mission to hijack a ship from a New Republic senator who is so far in the First Order’s pocket that black lint comes out every time he sneezes. During this mission, Iolo’s ship is damaged and even though Poe’s chances of survival would drop lower than those of a snowball’s on Mustafar, Poe orders Iolo to leave. He would rather risk his life than cost Iolo his. We see similar acts from Poe in The Force Awakens. At the beginning of the film, he tells Lor San Tekka that he has to hide as soon as it’s clear that the First Order has come calling. Later, on Takodana, when things look their bleakest for Han, Chewie, and Finn, Poe flies in with the X-wing cavalry and soon TIEs and troopers are falling from blasts from the tips of his laser cannons. During the last stages of the attack on Starkiller Base, when Poe and the squads under his command are flying down the trench, Poe asks his pilots to pull out while he flies into a crack in the oscillator and drops a slew of torpedoes before flying out of the same crack. In each of these cases, Poe attempts to protect those around him, but what else would he do? It’s the Dameron way to shield people from danger, even if Poe’s way of shielding might be less purely protective and more like a solid shield bash to the face of the First Order.
The contrasting color to the black on the Dameron coat of arms is an orange color similar to that of the X-wing pilot’s flight suit worn by Luke Skywalker. Two trees stand against these fields of orange, and both the color and the trees are meant to connect the Dameron’s with the Skywalker family.
In Shattered Empire, Shara Bey is consistently brought into contact with both Leia and Luke Skywalker through the will of the Force. As mentioned earlier, when Luke is trying to pilot the Lambda shuttle carrying his father’s body away from the second Death Star, Shara Bey happens to be there. There were many other Rebel pilots in the area, but Shara was the one who found Luke. In the following issue, Leia is scheduled to go to Naboo, and who else could be assigned to be her pilot except Shara. In the last issue of the mini-series, Luke Skywalker needs a pilot and sends R2-D2 to find one for him. R2 brings back Shara Bey. In three separate instances, the Force brings Shara, a Dameron, into contact with a Skywalker in order to help that Skywalker accomplish their goal.
Image from Shattered Empire #4 (Courtesy of Marvel Comics)
It must have been the guidance of the Force that led Luke to give one of the two trees that were once a part of the great tree that grew in the heart of the Jedi Temple to the Dameron family. It was a symbol of the connection the Force had revealed between these two families, and where else would Kes and Shara Dameron have planted the tree and raised their son except on the fourth moon of Yavin, where Luke’s journey as an orange clad X-wing pilot began. It does not take much imagination on the part of the reader to picture Shara and Kes sitting beneath the tree, telling Poe stories of the heroic farmboy pilot from Tatooine and the determined warrior princess from Alderaan.
Image from Shattered Empire #4 (Courtesy of Marvel Comics)
As Poe grew older, it was only a matter of time before he would meet the heroes of those hypothetical stories told in the shade of the Jedi tree. In Before the Awakening, when Poe returns after disobeying a direct order from his superior in the New Republic, he expects to be court marshaled; instead, he is brought before someone sympathetic to his rash actions: General Leia Organa. The threads connecting the lives of the Skywalker family and those of the Damerons were about to be intersect again in the tapestry of galactic events. During this same meeting, Leia even draws a connection between Poe and her brother, Luke, when she says, “‘The need to do what’s right, and maybe find a little adventure along the way… You remind me of my brother… Fly like him, too, apparently” (178). Leia sees in Poe the desire and commitment to doing what is right that she saw in Luke. The goodness of heart and sureness of spirit that led a young farmboy from Tatooine to rush into her cell on the Death Star was reflected in this young man born to Rebel soldiers turned farmers. How could Leia not offer him a position within the Resistance? You don’t deny the will of the Force when it moves, no matter how mysterious its ways.
Within The Force Awakens, there are only a few connections between the Dameron and Skywalker families. One comes right at the beginning when we are told in the opening crawl that Leia trusted Poe, her “most daring pilot,” to find and bring back the information that she hoped would lead to a reunion with her and her brother. The others are when we see Poe and Leia speaking multiple times in the Resistance briefing room on the planet D’Qar. Poe never really even spends much time with Rey during the film, so even if she does turn out to be a Skywalker, the two families will still have had few interactions within this movie. Visually, there isn’t much, but auditorily, there’s just a little bit more connecting the Damerons to the Skywalkers.
The Star Wars main theme that has played during the opening crawl of each film in the Star Wars saga is also known as Luke Skywalker’s theme. I may very well have never known this if not for the in-depth musical analysis of David Collins on the podcast Star Wars Oxygen, and it was this same analysis that convinced me that I had to see The Force Awakens a sixth time in preparation for writing this article. I was convinced that Luke’s theme was connected to Poe Dameron. I was at least partially right. While I’m no David Collins, I counted Luke’s theme played at least four times in the film. It’s played during the scene between Poe and Finn where Finn tells Poe that he’s going to rescue him, it’s played twice onboard the Falcon with Han and Chewie, and it’s played throughout the scene where Poe leads the squadrons in the attack on Starkiller Base. It’s most obvious use is probably in this Starkiller scene. This is when the track “Scherzo for X-wings” on The Force Awakens soundtrack is played. If you listen to the track, you hear Luke’s theme played multiple times. Though he’s not there physically, Luke is with Poe musically. As Poe skims down a trench very similar to the one Luke once traveled down, it’s almost as if the music acts as Luke’s disembodied voice telling Poe (and the audience), “The theme will be with you, always.” The bond between the Skywalkers and the Damerons is strong indeed.
Who knows what the future holds for the Damerons? It seems like Shara and Kes never had any other adventures with the Skywalkers after retiring to Yavin, but could they have had less exciting encounters? While Poe will probably continue to serve Leia in the cause of the Resistance, will he ever meet Luke? All those answers lie in the adventures before us, but the Force has been shown to work in mysterious ways in the Star Wars galaxy. It moves individuals to accomplish feats of bravery, self-sacrifice, and heroism that they never thought possible, and it connects individuals together in ways that, for a time, restore peace and justice to the galaxy.
What are your favorite Dameron moments from the comics, novels, or film, and why are they your favorite? Please share your answers with Far, Far Away Radio and I at our Twitter handles @farfarawayradio and @mapplebee7567.
If you liked this article, you would probably also enjoy this one by my fellow Far, Far Away Radio blogger, Alex Kane, in which he explains why you should read the comic mini-series Shattered Empire.