Star Wars: Agent of the Empire #1 Review

Or, Star Wars: Agent of the Empire-Iron Eclipse, to give this new 5 issue mini-series its full name. I must say, I was pretty keen to read this, although the majority of my admiration for Star Wars has been tied to the original film trilogy, Dark Horse have shown that they are a very worthy gatekeeper of George Lucas’ creation.

Since 1991’s Dark Empire they’ve produced some great comics set in the galaxy far, far away and have covered many new characters and eras. Writer John Ostrander has written a lot of those comics, including Legacy, and February’s Dawn of the Jedi series which is set to do exactly what the title says.

Agent of the Empire brings a great, swashbuckling, James Bond level of derring do and it’s such a perfect fit that this debut ish will remind many of how they felt after seeing the first film back in the day. Focusing on secret agent Jahan Cross, who works for the evil Empire to give this two unique points of view is a daring, yet creatively satisfying decision. I mean, “Stormtroopers are the Empire’s hammer. This man is its scalpel.” How cool is that?

We are introduced to the suave Cross as he accuses a Colonel of dealing in the black market for his expensive tastes. It’s a great scene in which Cross’ status as an Imperial Intel agent (kind of like Internal Affairs) is established and is swiftly followed by an even greater action scene in which Cross vaults across a table and orders his faithful robotic servant IN-GA 44 to go into battle mode. Handy.

The next few pages unfortunately slow right down, as Cross reports to his superior and lots of exposition unfurls about what the Iron Eclipse is. A few pages later though and we are introduced to an obvious Bond homage in the form of the snake-like Alessi Quon, who is essentially the Q, or gadget provider, to Cross.

Ending with a cameo from two of Star War’s most loveable characters seem slightly out of place, but Ostrander handles the pair splendidly, so it’s not as awkward as it could be. Cross, although he works for the bad guys, is a likeable lead. Star Wars already has a multitude of crazy cool characters, but Cross can definitely now be added to that list.

French artist Stephane Roux’s work has always been deft, light and packed with motion. This is a rare interior art assignment, as he’s mostly known for his great covers for DC Comics on runs like Birds of Prey, and Supergirl. Unfortunately he won’t be doing issues 3 and 4, but will be back for the concluding 5th issue. His style fits perfectly with this unique approach to Star Wars. Roux brings a great sense of playfulness to the characters’ interactions, fun to the hectic action, and gorgeous spectacle to the universe spanning settings.

This is a great premiere of another bold entry in this sci-fi franchise that proves there’s much life in the galaxy yet. Although it briefly falls into the trap of setting up the series premise with some slightly boring and lengthy dialogue at times, Ostrander and Roux bring an entertaining charm that promises more great visuals and excitement in the remaining issues.

We all have one of those friends who just doesn’t ‘get’ Star Wars. Give this issue to them and watch them change their minds as they see the light (side of the Force, that is).

You can catch a preview below and Ostrander’s rundown of this series’ main players here.

Justice League: Doom Box Art

Inspired by Mark Waid and Howard Porter’s excellent Tower of Babel storyline from the Justice League comics in the ’90s that had Batman unwittingly defeating his teammates, is this next animated film From DC Comics and Warner Bros. The only new info we have is the release date of February 28, and the box art below. Judging by the previously released trailer, it does seem a loose adaptation though, with Cyborg now in the team, and the immortal Vandal Savage as the main villain. It is the last screenplay written by the late, great Dwayne McDuffie though, so it should be entertaining.

The film features the voices of primetime stars Nathan Fillion (Castle), Tim Daly (Private Practice) and Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville) in addition to a cavalcade of voiceover alums from the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited animated television series.



Trailers Galore

Looks like 2012 is going to be a good year for fans of 1980s cartoon and toy franchises.

First up is next year’s Transformers: Fall of Cybertron videogame, with a nice surprise at the end.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation gets rid of a few characters from the first film and introduces a few more. It still looks quite ridiculous though, but not as much as the first film.

Men in Black 3 is set 10 years after the last film, which was indeed released a decade ago. There’s not much to excite me about this, but maybe a later trailer will show more humour and action.