Star Wars: Agent of the Empire—Iron Eclipse #1
Written by: John Ostrander
Pencils by: Stéphane Roux
Inked by: Julien Hugonnard-Bert
Dark Horse takes a new direction with the latest Star Wars title and delves into solid secret agent territory with the introduction of new character Johan Cross, an agent for the Empire who takes care of the smaller, trickier situations where stormtroopers just won’d get the job done. When Cross and his droid IN-GA44 stumble across a secret involving stoled droids and… a certain Corellian Smuggler their journey takes them across the galaxy… starting on a familiar desert planet.
This is a great throwback to the classic Marvel Star Wars comics of the 80s. An adventure set just before A New Hope, the first issue wastes no time in introducing the latest anti-hero in the SW universe, Johan Cross.
Cross is a typical James Bond-esque secret agent, suave, deadly and confident… but working for the Empire.
John Ostrander’s writing creates an unashamed boy’s own adventure. Robots! Fights! Excitement! It’s all in here and because it’s – shock! – so much fun I even forgive him the blatant rip-off of the opening of Joss Whedon’s Serenity at the start of the book when Cross faces an Empirial commander on the take.
The thing that works best here is the setting, or rather period, of the universe from the OT. With so many SW books set in the distant past or distant future of the universe, it is really refreshing when Cross bumps into an old friend from the academy on Tatooine called Han Solo. And again, harkening back to the classic Marvel Days, Stéphane Roux and Inker Julien Hugonnard-Bert’s artwork here really frames the scene perfectly as Cross, Solo and Chewbacca find themselves in a fight with a crew of disgruntled Sabaac players… I can almost see the legend CORNERED! CAN OUR HEROES POSSIBLY ESCAPE THE CLUTCHES OF THESE VILLAINS?! Plastered across the top.
Just as the inner fanboy got a chill on seeing the Neimoidians in The Force Unleashed II (the Nerd in me LOVES little bits like this that tie together the trilogies) I enjoyed seeing the super battle droids at the start of the book.
So, overall? While not the most high-brow adventure ever and never going to set the Star Wars EU on fire, agent of the Empire is fun, fast and features everyone’s favourite Millenium Falcon pilots and in Cross I think we have a character who, like Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, and Grand Admiral Thrawn, will become a main stay in the EU. Or I may be wrong… does redemption await him at the end of this tale? Or death? Who knows, but just as Han and Chewie are sure to be along for the adventure, so will I.