Tag Archives: John Ostrander

Review: “Star Wars–Dawn Of The Jedi Vol. III: Force War” by John Ostrander & Jan Duursema

Title: Force War
Story & Script: John Ostrander
Story & Art: Jan Duursema
Series: Star Wars: Dawn Of The Jedi Volume III (Issues #11-15)
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: Dark Horse Comics, 2014

Here we go again, diving one last time into the ancient history of the Star Wars universe. Obviously, this will contain spoilers for the previous volumes of the series, Force Storm and Prisoner Of Bogan.

Jumping forward a year from where we left our heroes, we find the Tython system embroiled in  full-scale war. The Rakata have arrived in force, capturing several of the outlying planets before being turned back by the combined forces of the Je’daii and the other Tythans under the command of Daegan Lok. Wielding Forcesabers modeled on that carried by former Force Hound Xesh, the Je’daii walk a fine line in the Force, drawing increasingly on the Dark Side to power their weapons and carry them through battle unscathed. Despite the endless battles facing him and his friends, Xesh is finding himself increasingly in balance as he learns to touch the Light Side of the Force as well as the Dark, helped in no small measure by his growing relationship with Shae Koda. Fighting together the Tythans have managed to stymie the Rakatan advance, but at heavy cost. What they don’t know, however, is that the Rakata want far more than just Tython. They want the Infinity Gate buried beneath it, an ancient piece of tech that would unlock any and every world in the galaxy for conquest….

As with the previous entries, I absolutely loved this one. The one-year jump forward glossed over a number of events that I would have enjoyed getting to see, but given the timing of the license shifting to Marvel, I suspect that this was the only way to get to the conclusion Ostrander & Duursema envisioned before running out of time. I’d love to have a lot more of this series, obviously, but given that events didn’t allow that to happen, this was an incredible conclusion to the series. I would enjoy seeing how the Je’daii evolve into the order we see at the start of the Tales Of The Jedi comics, but that is naught but a pipe dream now that all the relevant media has been relegated to Legends status.

CONTENT: Some violence. Mildly explicit sexual content. Mild to no profanity.

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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–The Clone Wars: The Wind Raiders Of Taloraan” by John Ostrander & The Fillbach Brothers

Title: The Wind Raiders Of Taloraan
Writer: John Ostrander
Artists: The Fillbach Brothers
Series: Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Officially Legends, but tied to the TV series)
Rating: ****
Publisher/Copyright: Dark Horse Comics, 2009

And so continues my foray into the Expanded Universe material related to The Clone Wars! This time, the third digest-size novella The Wind Raiders Of Taloraan….

After accidentally derailing a delicate diplomatic meeting with the Bothans, Ahsoka is assigned to accompany Obi-Wan and Anakin to observe negotiations with the Denfrandi, rulers of the planet Taloraan. The Republic needs Taloraan’s Tibanna gas supplies for the war effort, but with the Defrandi already secretly in league with the Separatists and the primitive Wind Raiders simply hostile to anyone and everyone, this mission may be simply impossible for our heroes!

As with the previous entries, the story here is pretty decent. Its a little formulaic, with Ahsoka messing up and then learning her lesson by the end, but this is primarily aimed at the younger set, so we can’t complain  too much. Plus, John Ostrander is always a pleasure. I’d have liked to see his longtime collaborator Jan Duursema come along for the ride though, and give us a break from the stylized art of the Fillbach Brothers. It’s not bad, I suppose, I’m just not really a fan. Again, if you like the show, you’ll like this. If you’re not familiar, it won’t do as much for you.

CONTENT: No profanity. Mild violence. No sexual content.

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Review: “Star Wars–Dawn Of The Jedi Vol. I: Force Storm” by John Ostrander & Jan Duursema

Title: Force Storm
Story & Script: John Ostrander
Story & Art: Jan Duursema
Series: Star Wars: Dawn Of The Jedi Volume I (Issues #1-5)
Rating: ****
Publisher/Copyright: Dark Horse Comics, 2012

This…this is not the Star Wars you grew up with. This is a tale set in the far distant past of the Galaxy Far, Far Away–over twenty-five thousand years before the films, in fact. (For comparison, the earliest stories prior to this series starting happened five thousand years pre-films.) Force-sensitive beings from across the galaxy have been gathered in one place on the planet Tython, and over the course of ten thousand years have colonized the entire system. The Je’daii themselves live on Tython, an unpredictable world rich in the Force but dangerous for those without access to its power. Those without the Force have retreated to the other nearby worlds, but the entire system is cut off from the rest of the galaxy (this is pre-hyperdrive–they’re still playing with that one twenty thousand years later.) Outside the Tython system, the Rakatan Infinite Empire has embarked on it’s conquest of the stars, seeking Force-rich worlds to strip and enslave. Now one of their Force Hounds has had a vision of a world somewhere in the Deep Core, rich in the Force and ripe for the taking…. On Tython, three young Je’daii have a vision of impending darkness that will affect the three of them individually as well as having consequences for the whole planet…. The coming of Xesh the Force Hound will set off a Force Storm of unprecedented fury. Can the Je’daii survive?

So, this is just another era in the Star Wars history, right? Well, yes…but this one brings to the table quite a paradigm shift. Still nearly twenty millennia before the schism that results in the foundation of the Sith order, the Je’daii strive to maintain balance–tipping neither too far into the light or the dark. That’s the biggest difference, but Ostrander and Duursema enjoy pointing out other things that have changed over the millennia, such as Tatooine being at this point in time a “lush” world with blue seas instead of the arrid wasteland Luke Skywalker will eventually grow up in.

I absolutely love Ostrander & Duursema’s Star Wars comics. Legacy was one of my favorites, back when that was running, and I really enjoyed a lot of what they did together on Republic during that book’s run. Compared to Legacy and some of their previous works, this one hasn’t quite hit it’s stride yet. There are just a few too many characters jammed into a bit too short a tale to be fully satisfying, but then again this isn’t the end. There’s two more volumes of this series to go before all is done, plus a tie-in novel and a couple short stories. There’s still time for this to live up to it’s potential, but not a lot. The passing of the Star Wars comic license from Dark Horse to Marvel next year is destined to cut this series short at only three arcs. I’m hoping Ostrander and Duursema follow the license to Marvel as part of that deal, but I fear I’m to be disappointed.

CONTENT: Mild language, as per Star Wars guidelines. Violence, not too disturbing. Some flirting, and some mildly provocative dress on the part of the female characters, but this is a comic book. What else is new?

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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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