Note: This blog entry contains SPOILERS to “Agent of the Empire: Hard Targets” #4
Once again, Dark Horse Comics has delivered an issue with amazing artwork and a rich story. John Ostrander and his team of writers cease to amaze readers how much plot content his can fit in the panels. The art by penciller Davide Fabbri also produces some of the best illustrations being produced in Star Wars titles, today.
Four issues ago we discovered the assassination of Count Dooku was politically motivated, a power play by Rodas Borgin to regain his families interest in the Galactic Empire. Agent Jahan Cross pulled the trigger, disguising himself as the infamous bounty hunter, Boba Fett.
Over the course of the last several issues, Cross has wrestled with his task. While never questioning his allegiance to the Empire, it ruffled the agent’s feathers that Imperial resources were being used to position the House of Borgin toward their liking.
Not only had Borgin pressured the Empire to take out Adan Dooku, but Cross learned he also orchestrated the kidnapping of Adan’s heir, Bron Dooku, who Borgin is now the caregiver of. Even though Cross has been told to leave things along, he can’t allow harm to come to a young boy, so he plans to recruit Candra Tymon to help him in a rescue mission.
This is where we find ourselves in the beginning of “Agent of the Empire: Hard Targets” #4, at a cantina near the Serenno Spaceport. Candra is in the bar, drowning her sorrows at the bottom of a glass. Little does she know the man across from her, Cross, was the assassin in Mandalorian armor she failed to catch, and her former employer, Borgin, was the man responsible for Bron’s abduction – incidents which led to her unemployment as a body guard.
Cross is honest with Tymon, unveiling his part in the recent fallout – however, omitting his part in the assassination, even blatantly lying about it – and manages to sign her on to the rescue plan.
Meanwhile, floating idly in space is Boba Fett, aboard the Slave I, when a hologram transmission is received. A woman who represents the Count of Serenno offers Fett a job. We learn the bounty hunter was questioned following the assassination of Count Dooku, but an alibi freed him from being a primary suspect. Therefore, he is in the clear for accepting a job on Serenno.
Side note: Boba Fett warns he will soon learn who the imposter was and settle the score. Obviously, he does not know it was Cross – leaving questions floating over their confrontation at the start of the story arc. Since that encounter was noted to happen a few weeks after the assassination, we can only conclude that confrontation occurs sometime after this issue and upcoming events.
Cross learns Bron’s whereabouts via his father, Ambassador Davim Cross, and concocts a plan. Cross and Tymon sneak into Otoh Dooku, the families undersea retreat in the Belsallian Sea, where Bron is being held captive until the Imperial Navy arrives.
They succeed in rescuing Bron, escaping the hot pursuit of Borgin’s men. They rendezvous at the docks and ready the next stage in their plan – until they are interrupted by an unannounced visitor, Boba Fett.
The stage is set for disaster, as Cross has placed himself, whether by design or accident, against the man backed by his superiors. The Empire may question where Cross’ loyalties lay, or even consider him a traitor for acting on his own assignment.
“Agent of the Empire: Hard Targets” #5 will be released Feb. 27.
Note: This blog entry contains SPOILERS to “Agent of the Empire: Hard Targets #1.”
“Agent of the Empire” is a fresh approach to the Star Wars Expanded Universe that combines the traditional space opera with elements of espionage and secret agents. The adventures of Imperial Intelligence officer Jahan Cross take place before the events of Episode IV.
Last month Dark Horse Comics released the first issue of “Agent of the Empire: Hard Targets,” which is the second story arch in the series. The first issue opens with a literal bang as Cross tussles with Boba Fett – for reasons unknown to the reader.
Boba stops short of killing Cross, but warns the agent to not get in his way again. The scene ends with Cross stealing a speeder and taking off in pursuit of Boba Fett. Cross discloses his mission is, in fact, to get in the bounty hunters way.
Ten days earlier on Alderann, the home world of Cross, there was a celebration hosted by Bail Organa to honor the current Count Dooku – but things quickly turned sour after the count is assassinated by “Boba Fett” – or so it seemed at first.
After a short foot chase the assassin escapes via jet pack, removes his helmet and reveals himself as none other than Jahan Cross – who was under the impression he was assigned to kill the count because he was an enemy of the empire. He is later told by Agent Armand Isard the count was actually neutral, but was killed as a favor to a influential person close to the Empire.
Cross doesn’t know what to think of this new information and struggles with the fact he may have killed an innocent man.
“Do you know the difference between you and a hired gun like Boba Fett, Agent Cross? You’re cheaper.” – Agent Isard.
The story is engaging and the colors pop from the panels with brilliant tones of red, orange and blue. John Ostrander’s story promises an interesting premise and I’m excited for the remaining four issues in the story arch. The illustrations by Davide Fabbri are rich in detail and the colors by Wes Dzioba explode from the page.
"Agent of the Empire: Hard Targets #2" will be released Nov. 21.