Agent Cross runs afoul of an old flame, but who is she really working for? GONK goes under the cover of this week’s Agent of the Empire.
Previously in the “Hard Targets” arc in Star Wars: Agent of the Empire, Imperial spy Jahan Cross had to help along some regime change for Serenno – but discovered that his orders to assassinate Count Adan Dooku were more a local power play than in the Empire’s best interests. Now charged with protecting Dooku’s son, Bron, while a regent is chosen from the Serenno lords, Cross finds himself caught up in Serenno politics… and dealing with his estranged father, an Imperial diplomat. But that’s not all – the airship hosting the leadership summit has been hijacked by a professional crew after Bron… and the leader of the kidnappers is Vex, a rival spy and occasional lover.
In the middle issue (#3) of Star Wars: Agent of the Empire – Hard Targets (DarkHorse.com profile), Cross has to save the boy but also keep Vex out of official Imperial and Serenno crosshairs. With Tymon commandeering the pirate vessel for use by the nobles of Serenno, agent Cross escapes the crashing airship and chases after Vex and the boy. Catching up to them at her ship, Cross has Vex trapped, and makes a deal: he’ll get Vex out of custody in exchange for the name of who hired her to kidnap the boy. His deal hits a snag when the Serenno port police refuse to turn her over to the Empire, and instead, lock her in the bottom level of the Spike, an underground maximum security prison.
Going off the books, Jahan Cross now has to infiltrate the prison under the nose of Captain Tymon, Bron’s security chief. Sneaking into the prison, Cross manages to use disguises to get to Vex’s cell, and then uses the cover of a prison riot to get Vex out. Freed, Vex reveals who hired her to kidnap Bron – and that person is not happy that Agent Cross has interfered with his plans (and once again, neither is Cross’ boss at Imperial Intelligence).
What surprises me with this comic is how action packed it feels while keeping the story moving – we start off with an airship about to crash, have a standoff in the spaceport, and then a whole prison break-in and break-out. All in one comic! In the meantime, we also learn a lot about this new character, Vex. She works for the Bothan Spynet sometimes and there’s a definite relationship of sorts between her and Cross — enough of one that he’d risk his career and neck to spring someone out of the clink who is effectively an enemy of the Empire. But Cross wants to know who is pulling her strings and his strings as well – as revealed in earlier issues, he’s starting to have doubts about his role in the original assassination.
John Ostrander is weaving a great spy story here, and even spends a little time going back to Cross’ organization: getting a call in to his gadget man, Alessi Quon, as well as the M to his Bond: Armand Isard. While the call to Isard is all story driver, there’s a little glimpse into Quon’s world as he and Cross end up covering for each other’s secrets. But the real story to dive into is between Vex and Cross: While the pair avoid a kiss as they plan her capture: “Last time you kissed me I was unconscious for ten hours.” “It was supposed to be two days.” (a la “Our Mrs. Reynolds”) but they do share a smooch after springing her from the Spike and they head their separate ways.
Davidé Fabbri handles the art in this issue well, serving up some great panels, especially in the action of the airship escape and the prison riot. Some cool concepts in the controls of the pirate airship, some good character work with Alessi, and excitement galore in the fight to the surface. And the scenes with Vex and Cross show off their chemistry and her sex appeal without being too cheesecake-y.
Overall, good stuff – I think I’m enjoying this storyline more than the first Agent of the Empire story arc.