There’s something extremely satisfying about opening up a “Star Wars” comic and seeing a wonderfully drawn Stormtrooper and a high-ranking Imperial official flying the red and blue rank bars on the drab dress uniform. It’s the equivalent to sitting down in an easy chair, taking off the work boots, and letting the feet breathe a little, popping up the footrest turning on the tube and seeing one of the original trilogy films on the TV. It’s just right. It feels right, it looks right, and it truly IS “Star Wars.”
That said, John Ostrander seizes the opportunity to once more expand the Star Wars universe as only he can. He welcomes us in with the familiar and then puts a spin on it, giving us something so sparkling and new that we can’t help but like it since it looks, feels, and sounds like what we already love. To further integrate the new, Ostrander finds ways to hook it back into the familiar again and again. He did this with the “Legacy” series and he does that here, putting Jahan Cross in the heart of the Empire as an Imperial Intelligence officer. Later on, we’re treated to Cross running into an old friend who just so happens to be one of the most beloved scruffy scoundrels of the entire Star Wars brand.
For my money, Ostrander is THE architect of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. This latest addition simply adds credence to that statement. Through it all, however, Ostrander maintains the adventure, the mystery, and the wonder of Star Wars. He has a masterful grasp on the characters and their voices, their reactions and their interactions.
Alongside Jahan Cross, Ostrander introduces us to IG-NA 44, a droid that is part protocol (think C-3PO) droid and part assassin (think IG-88 from “Empire Strikes Back”) droid. Encouraged by that challenge, Stephane Roux delivers a magnificent sequence of IN-GA 44 snapping into battle mode that is innovative while hearkening back to classic comic book storytelling designs.
My one gripe — and it is a minor one, especially as it is brushed away in the story — is the overtly sexualized styling of the IN-GA droid. Her creator, Alessi Quon, seems to work with both form and fashion in mind, so it is easily explained away, but the notion of high heels on a droid still puzzles me. That is a minor gripe, as noted, and is certainly easily dismissed as it is the only opportunity Stephane Roux is afforded to draw anything resembling a female form in this issue. Roux’s women are inarguably beautiful, and his men are equally handsome.
Roux not only delivers good-looking humans, but his tech, backgrounds, and the scattered assortment of aliens are all spot-on distinctive likenesses and near approximations of their film counterparts.
This comic is so spot-on perfect for the Star Wars fan that I can almost guarantee more intense fans of the brand will be hearing a John Williams score in their heads as they read the adventures of Jahan Cross. Cross’ work for the Empire is similar to that of James Bond. There are a pair of scenes where Cross goes to pick up his droid and his equipment for his mission that could have “Bond” substituted for “Cross” and the adventure would be just as entertaining. All the same, this is a book for any and all — casual or intense — Star Wars fans. The saga is alive and well here.