Originally created as a mix of sci-fi and pulp action, Star Wars has become a genre of its own with various writers, artists and creators telling diverse stories with the ever-expanding continuity. And now, veteran Star Wars scribe John Ostrander brings in a calm, cool and collected secret agent to the mix, operating in the days leading up to the original trilogy.
Launched earlier this month, Star Wars: Agents of the Empire — Hard Targets puts an Imperial operative named Jahan Cross on Planet Alderaan in a mission to foil an assassination attempt. Although he works for the Empire, Cross is keenly aware of the missteps the Emperor has taken and knows not to trust anybody. But it’s not just anybody who gets in Cross’ path in this series: everyone from Darth Vader to Bail Organa, a young Princess Leia, Boba Fett and even Count Dooku make appearances in the story.
Working with artist Davidé Fabbri, Ostrander has set up this four-issue series as a send-up of spy novels such as Ian Fleming’s James Bond as well as other spy stalwarts, all set in the rugged and familiar universe of Star Wars. With issue #2 set for release on Nov. 21, we talked with Ostrander about this spy-meets-space drama.
Newsarama: John, the subtitle of this one is Hard Targets. Who are the targets, and what is the series about?
John Ostrander: “Hard Targets” can indicate a target that’s hard to hit but it can also mean one that’s a definite lock.
Nrama: So who is the target?
Ostrander: The first hard target for assassination is the current Duke of Serenno. The Duke’s son survives him but is too young to rule so a regent must be selected. Jahan Cross’s mission is to make sure the regent appointed is the one that the Empire wants. That’s not going to be easy.
Nrama: Who is Jahan Cross?
Ostrander: He’s our Agent of the Empire working under the cover of diplomatic special envoy. His mother and his younger sister were killed during the closing days of the Clone Wars and that has left an indelible mark on him. He is highly skilled, highly intelligent, and very ruthless.
Nrama: The time period this series is set in, just before Star Wars: A New Hope, is rife with classic characters and set-ups. Who can we expect to see in this series in addition to Jahan?
Ostrander: Bail Organa, Princess Leia, her friend Winter, Armand Isard and his daughter, Ysanne Isard, Boba Fett and a little bit of Darth Vader. All have specific parts to play, some greater, some lesser, but all are required by the plot.
Nrama: By this time, the Empire are full-on evil – so why should a new reader come in and root for an Imperial Intelligence agent like Jahan Cross?
Ostrander: Cross believes he is serving Order over Chaos and that the Empire offers the best opportunity for that. He does have a sense of honor but that is continually being tested and frayed. He also believes the Empire’s report that the Jedi were behind the Clone Wars. Since his father was a diplomat for the Republic, he is aware of just how corrupt the Republic was. Also, a lot of his opponents are even nastier than the Empire. Also, Cross is pretty cool.
Nrama: This series features Count Dooku – not the version fans know from episodes 2 and 3, but a new one. Can you fill us in on this new Dooku and how there can be more than one?
Ostrander: We know that the Count Dooku from the films came the ruling family on Serenno and that his house, Clan Dooku, was the ruling house. When that Count Dooku went off to join the Jedi, it’s reasonable to assume that someone else in his family would take over the role of Count and then surrendered it again when our Count Dooku left the Jedi. We’ll get a look at what happened the Clone Wars as well.
Nrama: There's a very James Bondian vibe coming from this — what would you say to that?
Ostrander: Well, that’s how I sold the original pitch – James Bond meets Star Wars. But I’m all into all kinds of espionage fiction – John le Carré, Len Deighton, Robert Ludlum and so on. The intention is to work in as many different espionage tropes as possible and still make it Star Wars.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!