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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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