Tag Archives: Armand Isard

Review: “Star Wars–Agent Of The Empire: Hard Targets” by John Ostrander & Davide Fabbri

Title: Hard Targets
Writer: John Ostrander
Artist: Davide Fabbri
Series: Star Wars: Agent Of The Empire Volume II (Agent Of The Empire #6-10)
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: Dark Horse Comics, 2013

I’ve been going through my backlog of Star Wars comics, and I realized that I never got around to the second arc of John Ostrander’s stellar Agent Of The Empire series! Obviously, that had to be remedied. And so, here we are!

Jahan Cross is a very dangerous man, willing to do whatever he has to in order to make the galaxy a better place. Unfortunately, he believes wholeheartedly that the Empire is the only thing separating the galaxy from utter chaos and ruin. In the interests of the Empire, Cross will do anything that is asked of him. But when he discovers that his most recent kill was less about removing a threat to the Empire and more about lining the pockets of an Imperial official, Cross’s loyalties are placed to the ultimate test….

The good news? This second arc is every bit as good as the first, maybe better. The bad news? This is all there is. The series was canceled after this for some reason, probably related to the loss of licensing rights. Whereas the first arc dealt with Cross very much secure in his belief that he was working in the galaxy’s best interests (rightly, in that case), this time out we see a slightly different side of our shadowy hero. This time he knows for certain that his orders have nothing to do with improving the galaxy and everything to do with the personal ambitions of petty politicians. The question is, can Cross manage to make things right without breaking ranks? You’ll just have to wait and see!

As with the previous arc, this story stands pretty well even if you’re not a Star Wars buff. Obviously you’ll be better off if you read Agent Of The Empire: Iron Eclipse, but aside from that its pretty much new material. You get appearances by Armand & Ysanne Isard, but you learn everything you really need to know about them from context. Leia and Winter make a cameo, but again prior knowledge is far from essential. The barest familiarity with the Clone Wars gives you the identity of Count Dooku, whose family features heavily, but as he’s a movie character I think its safe to assume anyone interested knows who he is.

CONTENT: Mild to no profanity. Some violence, occasionally gruesome. Quite a bit of flirting, but no overt sexual content.

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Review: “Star Wars–Agent Of The Empire: Iron Eclipse” by John Ostrander, Stephane Roux, & Stephane Crety

Title: Iron Eclipse
Writer: John Ostrander
Artists: Stephane Roux & Stephane Crety
Series: Star Wars: Agent Of The Empire Volume I (Agent Of The Empire #1-5)
Rating: *****
Copyright: Dark Horse Comics, 2012

John Ostrander writes some of the best Star Wars comics out there. There are a lot of other great ones–Miller’s Knights Of The Old Republic comes immediately to mind, as do the various miniseries that Dark Horse runs from time to time that are usually pretty good. But for me, Ostrander is where its at. His work on Star Wars: Legacy was superb (seriously, go track it down, its worth a look!), he introduced some of the best characters back in the old Republic title, and now he’s doing this.

Obviously, this is James Bond in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Could be a bad idea, but Ostrander makes it work. Jahan Cross is an Imperial Agent in the days leading up to the destruction of the first Death Star. For Cross, its all about order and keeping the galaxy from falling into chaos. He believes Palpatine’s Empire is the best means to that end, and so he will defend it to his dying breath. Does he see how cold and ruthless his master Armand Isard is? Probably not. What he does see are the various threats that tip the galaxy further towards chaos, threats he is sworn to oppose. In this opening volume Cross is dispatched to the Corporate Sector to investigate the unusual goings on surrounding the estate of a dead industrialist with a VERY colorful past….

We aren’t used to rooting for the Empire to win. Even in the excellent Crimson Empire miniseries we were rooting for Kir Kanos, not the Empire at large. But John Ostrander manages to convince us that not every cog in the Imperial machine is as evil as Palpatine. There are Bond references everywhere of course, but this seems more like fun nods than it does derivative “ripping off” Bond. Also, there’s a Muppet reference. I’ll leave that for you to find…..The series switches artists for a couple issues in the middle, which I’m not really a fan of. It wasn’t jarring enough that I noticed the switch, but I did notice a slight difference in quality. I just assumed Ms. Roux was being rushed. I’m sure Ms. Crety is a perfectly good comic artist in her own right, but trying to match styles with another artist is almost never fair to either.

How much knowledge do you need of the Star Wars Expanded Universe do you need to be able to appreciate this? Almost none, really. The character of Stark originates back in the Dark Horse Star Wars series (later Star Wars: Republic when they started running multiple books at once), in the arc titled The Stark Hyperspace War. I don’t remember if Ostrander wrote that arc or not, but he was a series regular during that period. Longtime EU readers will recognize Armand Isard, Cross’s boss, and realize that not even Cross probably understands how dark his soul is. Other than that, it’s pretty much new territory.

CONTENT: Some violence, occasionally gruesome. Mild profanity. Mild sexual content, not too explicit. Think your average Bond movie….

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