COMIC REVIEW: Star Wars – Agent of the Empire: Iron Eclipse

This Star Wars spin-off owes more than a little to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and I’m perfectly okay with that. Normally when picking up a licensed comic there’s a great sense of trepidation as, let’s be honest, the shelves of your local comic shop are littered with big name books which are small on quality.

In this instance any such worries are unfounded as Agent of the Empire is a quality combination of the Star Wars universe and the action spy genre made famous by Bond and Bourne.

Set in the period between the Clone Wars and the original trilogy this story centres around an agent of Imperial Intelligence, Jahan Cross. In a very Bondian way we’re introduced to him as one case comes to a close and we have the requisite action scene before the trumpets blare and we get the credits. These Bond references are littered throughout, and whilst not as knowing as those in the Fables Cinderella books they’re fun nonetheless. There’s even a moment where Cross adjusts cufflinks that he’s not even wearing, if that’s not a tip of the hat to Bond I don’t know what is!

This first mission leads Jahan into the Commercial Sector undercover as a diplomat, following his instincts and the evidence. I found this an interesting idea, one that I’ve not seen elsewhere in my reading of the Expanded Universe (EU). The Commercial Sector seems to be where the Commerce Guilds run to at the end of the Clone Wars and is not considered part of Imperial space. This provides a sense of danger as Cross has no-one to turn to, until he bumps into a familiar duo.

I don’t think the story actually needed to crossover with the canonical characters in the way it does. it doesn’t suffer for it, but it seems unnecessary, the premise and Cross are interesting enough for me. But I can appreciate that cameos by big names will drive sales by those sceptical of the EU.

In Jahan Cross we have a character that has a moral centre, we’re shown the events that lead him to become a “believer” in the Empire, and although as fans we realise how wrong he is to blame the Jedi and revere the Emperor I could certainly understand his position. I hope this is explored in further volumes. However, like Bond before him, he’s not afraid of a little amorality when it helps him get the job done, this is possibly the most risqué EU story I’ve seen in a comic. Don’t get carried away though, it’s all strictly PG. He’s also not afraid of making tough choices, there’s a moment I particularly enjoyed where he makes a decision that you wouldn’t see in your typically sentimental Hollywood movie.

The art is strong throughout, the change of Stéphanes is well-handled and not at all jarring. Thankfully they don’t give into the temptation to overly photo-reference the cameos of known characters, managing to capture their essence without relying on stock images from the era.

Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Dave W

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