The Battle of Starkiller Base

Ever since Poe Dameron #28 released, I’ve been obsessing over the Battle of Starkiller Base. The comic claimed that Poe’s entire force consisted of twelve X-wings, and that seven survived. Frankly, those numbers seemed low. And so I did some digging in the movie and the other appearances of the battle. And while we do see exactly twelve X-wings enter Starkiller’s atmosphere and seven leave again, the proceedings during the battle don’t exactly support this claim.

Sadly, the Poe comic cannot be fully trusted in determining the minimum amount of X-wings involved in the attack, as it gets some other things wrong as well. Furillo, for instance, dies almost immediately, while in the movie he survives until after the first bombing run. The novelizations and comic adaptations also have some key differences – cutting whole characters to streamline events. But just going by the movie gives us good enough results.

X-wing #11 drops into frame in a few seconds, but blocks the view of others

In the film, seven X-wings blow up. After the fourth, Vober Dand claims “That’s half our fleet destroyed!”. At least one dead ship later, there’s a shot with eleven X-wings entering the trench leading up to the thermal oscillator. If we take Dand’s words literally, this means that there were around 2 x 12 = 24 T-70 X-wings involved in the attack. Now, as for who were flying them:

Black Leader Poe Dameron BB-8 Alive
Blue Leader Temmin “Snap” Wexley Unknown Alive
Blue Two Yolo Ziff M9-G8 Likely alive
Blue Three Jess Pava Unknown Alive
Blue Four Pallaris Ven BR-BA KIA
Blue Nine Unknown Unknown Alive
Red Leader (R1) Unknown Unknown KIA
Red Two Sara Bel-Sun P4-99 KIA
Red Three Nien Nunb Unknown Alive
Red Four Bastian Unknown Likely alive
Red Six Ello Asty XA-LX KIA
Unknown Niv Lek Unknown Likely alive
Unknown C’ai Threnalli R3-X3 Downed, alive
Unknown Wright Unknown Downed, alive

The seven survivors would then be:
– Poe Dameron
– Snap Wexley
– Yolo Ziff
– Jess Pava
– Nien Nunb
– Bastian
– Niv Lek and Blue Nine, who must therefor be the same person

However, there is one piece of the puzzle oddly missing: Karé Kun. As part of Poe’s elite Black Squadron and the only person to have actually flown to Starkiller before (see Poe Dameron #27), it would make sense for her to have taken part in the attack. But either she didn’t, there were more than seven survivors after all, or Yolo/Bastian must have been taken out off-screen in the retreat off of an exploding Starkiller Base.

In conclusion: Poe Dameron #28 is an amazing comic with some great character moments… But it is also plain factually incorrect.

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