Writer:Â John Ostrander
Artists:Â StÃ¨phane CrÃ¨ty, Julien Hugonnard-Bert, and Wes Dzioba
Review by: Tim TaylorÂ
The middle issue for the Agent of the Empire limited series treats (loose usage of the word) us to another episode of watching Imperial Agent Jahan Cross chasing down threats to the Empire. The same creative team saddles up again, featuring John Ostrander for the story, bolstered by StÃ¨phane CrÃ¨ty, Julien Hugonnard-Bert, and Wes Dzioba on the art side.
After a pretty expositional and unexciting first issue, I really thought the second kicked things into gear, so I was looking forward to this one. I quite enjoyed the art as a whole, which is worth pointing out. The colors are vibrant and really add to the feel of action on the panels. The pencils are clean and clear, which adds a nice contrast to the ink, which is used pretty heavily. Since we are looking at a lot of action and a lot of sneaking around, shadows play a solid role and the heavy ink really adds depth to the images.
Praise for the art aside, I’m afraid I can’t speak as glowingly about the story. As previously mentioned, I feel this limited started slow, but that the second issue really picked up steam. There was betrayal, murder, Cross had been framed and the issue concluded right in the midst of his escape on a hover bike. This issue picks up right where #2 left off, with Cross speeding away.
And so begins my problems with the story arc this issue. I’m not a huge fan of overly used clichÃ©s in storytelling. I’m afraid there will be minor spoilers here, so while the story remains fully intact, I’ll be revealing a method employed in the issue. So, here’s the spoiler of the first two pages: the bike crashes into the wall and explodes just as Cross jumps off to safety, so now his pursuers don’t know if he’s dead or alive. How many spy/action stories, be they comic or film, have you seen the hero pull a similar maneuver? Granted, sometimes maybe that is just what has to happen for the story, but I’m still not particularly excited to read the same sort of “trick” again. But, so be it, we take everything with a grain of salt, I suppose.
So despite not being too fond of this turn of events, I continued reading. Nothing startling really pops out as I progressed through the issue, until I got towards the end of the issue. Some additional details and communications are shown that murky the already complicated waters the story is predicated on, which was interesting enough. Once you get past the story progression and back into more action, Cross finds himself in need of time, as he is still being hunted for the murder he was recently framed for. So what is Cross’ solution? Take a ship, crash it while jumping off just before it explodes, and hope to trick people into thinking he’s dead. No… I’m not even joking. He wasn’t even under pressure, it wasn’t a spur of the moment decision, it was a “I will sit here and plan a way to buy myself time. Hmmm, what shall it be? EUREKA! I will do the exact same thing I literally just did some hours ago that clearly didn’t work!” To make it even worse, after his first attempt, a pursuer arrived on the scene of the crash and declared, “Cross is alive and he won’t be found here.” After the second iteration, he shows up on the scene and says “He’s alive, I know it.” I… but… there just aren’t words.
I love Star Wars, I liked hearing the idea that Agent of the Empire would be like a James Bond of the SW universe type of story, and I was so excited after issue #2 salvaged the rather droll inaugural issue, but this is a pretty difficult pill to swallow. The macro of the story is still interesting to me, but the way the micro of this issue was handled is really a tough one for me to recommend. Personally, I’m a very detail-oriented person, and it really bothers me when stories lack continuity or drop threads and so forth, but I don’t think I’m asking too much when I want a little more meat to this more “mature” Star Wars story than what this particular issue gave us. It’s possible the next and concluding issues will make it worthwhile, but I can’t say my hopes are very high at this point.
New Reader Accessibility: 3
Recommendation: Skip it.