Tag Archives: Winter

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: “The Dresden Files: Skin Game” by Jim Butcher

Title: Skin Game
Author: Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files #15
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: ROC, 2014

You should probably know by now: I’m a huge Dresden fan. Jim Butcher has an uncanny ability to top his previous achievements each book, and this time is no exception. Obviously, this review will contain spoilers for previous books in the series.

Right. It was revealed at the end of Cold Days that Dresden had some sort of parasite in his head that was causing his recurring headaches, and that it will eventually kill him if left unchecked. Demonreach, the sentient island/monster prison located in the middle of Lake Michigan, can use its bond with Dresden to keep the parasite suppressed for the moment, which is why Dresden has been living there alone for the past year. Unfortunately, time is running out. If the parasite isn’t dealt with soon, Harry will die. Mab, queen of the Winter Fae and Harry’s boss since he accepted the mantle of Winter Knight to save his daughter, offers a solution…after he completes a mission for her. That mission? No less than helping one of his Archenemies pull off a heist from the vault of Hades himself. Nicodemus heads the Order of the Blackened Denarius, a group of thirty fallen angels who are each tied to a particular silver Roman coin (Yeah, THOSE coins) and form a symbiotic relationship with whoever holds that coin. The Denarians are locked in an eternal combat with the Knights of the Cross, a trio (usually) of knights who each wield a sword forged with a nail from the cross (Yeah, THAT cross) in the hilt. Harry has crossed the Denarians before, even owned one of their coins for a while, but so far he has always come out ahead. This time? This time he’s got to help Nicodemus get his hands on one of the holiest relics in the world, and refrain from any treachery until after their objectives are met. This time, there may be no way out….

You’ve gotta love a good heist. Ocean’s Eleven was good, but robbing the Underworld itself? That’s the ultimate challenge. Will Dresden and his temporary allies succeed? Can Dresden thwart Nicodemus plan without breaking Mab’s orders? And given Nicodemus’ track record for flawless honesty, what on (or under) Earth is the real play here? You’ve gotta read on to find out! I will say that this was every bit as excellent as you would expect, and I stayed up way too late multiple nights in a row reading this book. Dresden is as snarky as ever, and after the last several books it was good to see a bunch of his allies again. One of the main strengths of this series is the secondary characters, every one of whom is interesting in their own right. You’ve got Karrin Murphy, former cop and arguably Dresden’s closest friend. Michael, crippled former Knight and one of the few men on the planet who are truly and unequivocally Good. Waldo Butters, Chicago coroner and budding supernatural vigilante, also the current holder of Bob, the spirit of intellect who formerly served Dresden. For the past several books Harry has walked a lonely road, and it’s good to see his friends again. Now he just has to keep from getting them killed….

CONTENT: R-rated language, not gratuitous but still present. Strong violence, sometimes very disturbing. Some fairly explicit sexual content this time, but I would argue that it was included for good reason. Since the main character is a wizard, I think the “occult content” is a given, but I urge you not to let that discourage you from this series.

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