Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Agent of the Empire - Iron Eclipse

James Bond has the distinction of being the longest continually running movie series, starting with the release of Dr No in 1962.  There have been 26 James Bond films and the movies are the 3rd highest grossing series behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Harry Potter.  (Star Wars is the 4th highest grossing series and has the possibility of passing both James Bond and Harry Potter with the release of the 9th film, Rogue One, in December.)  Based on books written by Ian Fleming, there are many Bond tropes that are familiar to fans of the movie series.  The 5-part mini-series, Star Wars: Agent of the Empire - Iron Eclipse, pays homage to James Bond and uses many familiar cliches.

Jahan Cross is the James Bond-like character in the Agent of the Empire series.  The story starts with Cross learning about project Iron Eclipse from a corrupt Imperial, Colonel Muhrlein, who Cross kills.  He gets permission from head of Imperial Intelligence, Armand Isard, an M-like character, to travel to the Corporate Sector, and under the guise of a diplomatic envoy, to uncover the secret of Iron Eclipse .  Naturally, Isard tells Cross he will disavow his mission if discovered and Cross stops by the tech division to pick up some gadgets from Allessi Quon, a Q-like character, and Royd Pew, whose last name sound like Q.  The main gadget he secures is the female droid IN-GA 44 or Inga, a companion Cross has used on several assignments.  In the Corporate Sector, Cross attends a social event and meets the beautiful Elli Stark and her brother Iaclyn Stark.  They are children of Iaco Stark who fled to the Corporate Sector from the Republic after starting the Stark Hyperspace Wars and died a few years earlier.  Cross also meets Dah'lis Stark, the step-mother of Elli and Iaclyn, who he spends the night with; Dah'lis reveals that Eclipse is a space station whose construction was started by Iaco and that work is being continued by Iaclyn.  Cross is awoken the next morning by the local Security Police and discovers Dah'lis is dead.  Framed, he flees and fakes his death so he can continue his investigate.  He enlists the aid of Elli Stark and they travel to the Eclipse station orbiting Reltooine.  There, Cross is captured by Iaclyn's droids.  Iaclyn reveals that Iron Eclipse is "a virus that spreads to all droids making them servants -- our army.  It eclipses all other programming -- including any injunctions against killing sentients."  Cross also learns that Iaco is not really dead, but had his head grafted onto a droid body.  Iaco kills Iaclyn while Cross and Elli flee.  They are confronted by Inga who is infected by the virus, but in the end, Cross kills Iaco and Inga destroys the Eclipse station along with herself, as Cross and Elli escape the station.

Han Solo and Chewbacca are rescued by Jahan Cross when he travels to the Corporate Sector and, to repay Cross, they use the Millennium Falcon to transport Cross and Elli Stark to and from the Eclipse space station.  They are shown on the cover of the first issue.

Star Wars: Agent of the Empire - Iron Eclipse #1a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (December 2011)
Dark Horse, following the lead of other publishers, was releasing retailer incentive covers for many first issues around the time this mini-series was published.  This series has one of these incentive covers.

Star Wars: Agent of the Empire - Iron Eclipse #1b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (December 2011)
As can be seen by the remaining covers, there are other characters who are involved in the twists and turns of this spy thriller.

Star Wars: Agent of the Empire - Iron Eclipse #2a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (January 2012)
Star Wars: Agent of the Empire - Iron Eclipse #3a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (February 2012)
Star Wars: Agent of the Empire - Iron Eclipse #4a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (March 2012)
Star Wars: Agent of the Empire - Iron Eclipse #5a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (April 2012)
Jahan Cross would return in a followup mini-series, Star Wars: Agents of the Empire - Hard Targets.

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