Star Wars: Agent of the Empire Volume 1 – Iron Eclipse from Dark Horse Comics explores the espionage branch of the Galactic Empire. Creators John Ostrander, Stéphane Roux and Stéphane Crety have brought all the intrigue of superspy James Bond to the fantasy world of Star Wars. The result is a new look into the workings of the Galactic Empire.
Darth Vader is the face of fear that keeps the systems in line. The Stormtroopers exist to be the Empire’s force to crush any insurrection. Then there are the finer tasks that require a specific set of skills, enter Jahan Cross, Agent of the Empire. Peace and order in the galaxy cannot be maintained by fear and force alone, there is work to be done to quell potential threats before they happen. Cross exists for that purpose. He is a man of action with a license to do what he sees fit.
Cross’ mission is to infiltrate a powerful and rich family and root out a disturbance that poses a tremendous threat to the Empire.
Writer Ostrander works the story of Cross into the established mythos of George Lucas’s films. With Cross, Ostrander shows a loyal government agent who is not the villain that Darth Vader and his cohorts are. Cross says, “Without the Empire, the galaxy would descend into chaos.” During the Clone Wars, Cross was a victim of the chaos he now seeks to prevent. It is details like this that build and motivate Cross into a compelling character.
Ostrander is also not shy about showing the similarities between Cross and Bond. Both have a soft spot for the women they encounter and have a habit of being caught in situations that can only be resolved with a blaster. Cross also has a network of past colleagues that lend a hand (with the right motivation), in this instance a young Han Solo and Chewbacca are there to provide Cross’ transportation.
The artwork by Roux and Crety is exquisite in its depiction of the Star Wars world and the various species that go with it. Roux handles the majority of the artwork with Crety penciling the third and fourth chapters of the five chapter story. Both artists’ style compliments the others’ and the change is not noticeable and does not affect the story.
When the action heats up, Roux and Crety use stunning page design breaking from a traditional comic book page by making the panels overlap or split into different formations. Roux draws an intense chase scene that will have any Bond fan on the edge of their seats as Cross is shown whisking through a palace on a speeder bike being hunted by the palace security.
Star Wars: Agent of the Empire Volume 1 – Iron Eclipse covers the era of Star Wars before Luke Skywalker found two droids and got wrapped up in a Rebellion against the Emperor. Ostrander, Roux and Crety use many story elements from the Star Wars films to bring the story together to firmly place it within the context of the overall Star Wars narrative. The superspy element is something that has not been explored within the Dark Horse comic universe but it works and makes sense for the Empire to use whatever tactics necessary to establish their dominance.
This volume collects issues 1-5 of the Dark Horse comic book series Star Wars: Agent of the Empire – Iron Eclipse.
And just like James Bond, Jahan Cross will return in Star Wars: Agent of the Empire Volume 1 – Hard Targets.