Agent of the Empire: Iron Eclipse #5
Agent of the Empire: Iron Eclipse #5 (of 5)
Writer: John Ostrander
Penciller: Stephane Roux
Inker: Julien Hugonnard-Bert
Colorist: Wes Dzioba
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Cover Artist: Stéphane Roux
Iron Eclipse #5 is the last issue in the first arc of Agent of the Empire. The first line of the intro sums of the arc pretty well: “Agent Jahan Cross, in the Corporate Sector to investigate the smuggling of Imperial technology, thus far has been framed for murder, been forced to kill a traitor to the Empire, and had to fake his own death.” But what will Cross get into, or out of, this time?
To answer that Iron Eclipse #5 dives into action. Jahan is at the mercy of his own droid and a crazed half-spider cyborg. Like any good Bond villain, this guy taunts Jahan with his ambitious scheme to conquer the galaxy. Surprisingly, the splendid artwork of the madman’s facial expressions really drives home the taunting to the point that it’s not trite or annoying. Ostrander even puts a little humor into the speech to keep it fun. Of course, we all know what’s going to happen.
One thing that can definitely be counted on is some more good artwork. Stephane Roux is back doing the interior pencilling after a two issue break. There are some great action shots. Yet this issue really shines in the face work. The emotions on Iaco Stark’s face are perfect. They’re detailed, they’re expressive, and they complement the dialog perfectly. It really raises the bar on what comics can achieve in storytelling.
I also loved the coloring. There are a lot of panels in this issue that take advantage of substituting the background for color. While it may seem strange, it actually does a lot to focus the attention on what’s important in a scene. Instead of being distracted by a droid or frivolous Star Wars object in the background, the attention is on the characters, the dialog, and the emotion. Action scenes get highlight by warm, fiery colors like oranges and yellows. To contrast with those panels, others get cooler colors in blues and violets. The combination looks good on the page, but works even better for reinforcing the mood. And of course there’s some great explosions.
The story hits just the right tone with a wide mix of emotions. There’s anxiety and anticipation as the reader is left wondering how the characters will get out of this mess. Hand in hand, Ostrander sneaks in a good dose of humor, but still manages to instill some strong drama, and wrap everything up with an extremely satisfying ending. Nothing felt rushed. With ease, the scenes flow page to page with varying emotions, each reflecting subtle shifts in the story. It was surprising just how much they accomplished in just one issue. Without a doubt, a perfect five out of five metal bikinis.
As for the Iron Eclipse arc as a whole, I can easily say this is one of the best Star Wars comics I’ve read in a while. The Legacy series was definitely good, but there’s something about Agent of the Empire that is just more enjoyable. It combines the fun aspect that Knights of the Old Republic was able to bring to the table, with some stellar artwork. I really hope they keep the team together for this one in future arcs, because these guys are pushing out some great stuff.