Review - Star Wars: Agent of the Empire #1

You know, I wrote an article on Star Wars a few months ago. And essentially I was griping about how I miss the ‘old feel’ to Star Wars. The pre-prequel feel. Well, I’m glad to say that Star Wars: Agent of the Empire #1 by John Ostrander and illustrated by Stephane Roux (inks by Julien Hugonnard-Bert) does NOT disappoint in this sense.

I know that the Star Wars extended universe has become crowded. Regardless, even if you’ve had a little too much Star Wars to be comfortable with this last decade, I think fans of the original trilogy will really find it hard NOT to like this comic book.

To begin with it features a lot of what endeared Star Wars to us in the first place. And, strangely, I don’t think that was necessarily lightsabers and the Force (at least, not at first). It was smuggling. It was bars. It was the rebellion.

Main character Jahan Cross isn’t a bad guy. Well, Cross is a dangerous guy, at least. But really, he’s just trying to do his job. His droid companion--I think a clear allusion to the old school IG-88 (whose action figure I had, by the way)--is a nice touch. But that’s what makes this comic book work, I think. Seeing some of the stuff you loved about Star Wars from the perspective of a guy whose mostly entrenched in some of the stuff that you now as villainous in Star Wars.

It’s like watching stories cut from the ‘old’ Star Wars cloth but from the perspective of the other side. The Empire in Star Wars: Agent of the Empire #1 feels like the Empire in that it's filled with faceless bureaucracy and brutality but dressed up as civilized. And smugglers feel like smugglers in that they're swashbuckling rogues who are never quite sure if they want to do good or just make a few bucks.

Of course, smugglers aren’t the only ones. The real nice touch in this series is the little bind of groundwork laid to give Cross that ounce of spiritedness and free will that makes him a Han Solo type himself. He might be the Empire’s equivalent to James Bond, but he’s got enough willpower and free will that you have to wonder if Cross might get wise and start to make his own decicions about who should be running the galaxy.

It’s sort of a strange part of WHY Star Wars appealed to us, but I think part of why Star Wars has remained so timeless is because it might have glorified some of our more adolescent instincts. It’s like we loved this idea that the good guys who saved the universe were your semi-shady buddies who you hung out with at the bar on Saturday nights.

Sure, they might have done some of the kind of stuff that your parents didn’t approve of in the past, but deep down you knew they were great guys and that’d they’d be their for you. There was politics in the Star Wars universe--the military, a republic that turned into an empire--but it was the PEOPLE that weren’t really aligned with anything, that valued freedom and their right to make their own way more than anything else. It was the Han Solos of the world that really changed things.

It was sort of like rebelling against ‘the man’ was going to prepare you to offer something amazing to the rest of the human race when the time came. It’s a very strange theme in Star Wars, I admit but it’s in there. And I think Star Wars: Agent of the Empire #1 takes us back there, with Star Wars. To that KIND of story.

There’s the law and than there’s the people who make their own choices for themselves. One thing I’ve complained about recently is that it’s hard to feel like the Star Wars universe is a place you could live in. There’s just too much crammed in there, it seems like the references to people and places are haphazard and confusing.

Everything about this comic book ‘feels’ like Star Wars. I’m not just a fan of Roux’ artwork (the book’s action really moves). It’s the character design that hits the mark, I think. The style of dress, the haircuts. It’s hard to articulate it but it just LOOKS like Star Wars, you know?

I really love this book’s premise and main character in spite of this reason. It makes the galaxy feel like a place you could be again. I mean, after all most of the people living in the Star Wars Galaxy aren’t disaffected dissidents looking to overthrow the government. They’re just trying to make a living, whether it’s the Republic or the Empire in charge it doesn’t really make a difference.

Overall, Star Wars fans will be drawn to this book. The action is fluid, the story and characters are fun, and the art is very Star Wars stylized. It’s a niche book, I admit, but I’d recommend it to the Star Wars enthusiasts. Or if you’ve just forgotten what you use to love about the Star Wars Galaxy.

Star Wars: Agent of the Empire #1 is slated to hit stores December 14.