Set shortly before “A New Hope,” it’s James Bond meets Star Wars and it’s pretty good.

REVIEW: “Star Wars: Agent of the Empire — Hard Targets” #1 — Click to read entire review

“The first ‘Star Wars’ trilogy is the most difficult time period to write original stories without retreading what’s already been done, but in ‘Star Wars: Agent of the Empire: Hard Targets’ #1, writer John Ostrander and artist Davide Fabbri present a slick, cool and strangely likable character in Jahan Cross of Imperial Intelligence.

Cross is the Empire’s James Bond, and this story takes place shortly before the events of ‘Episode IV: A New Hope’ on the peaceful planet of Alderaan. Star Wars expanded universe fans will recognize numerous cameo appearances including Ysanne Isard, the hardened female Imperial leader from the ‘Rogue Squadron’ novels, a younger Princess Leia and the most infamous bounty hunter in the galaxy, Boba Fett. With these characters and others, Ostrander has utilized established Expanded Universe lore and riffs off it, while at the same time presenting an original character readers can latch on to in Cross.”

Oh man — yesterday I found two totally awesome retro items this near-30 year old geek man-child must own:

1) “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” Complete Classic Series DVD Set — Available 11/28/12 for $99.99

“Cowabunga! Experience the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle saga in this totally tubular 23-disc set of the original animated series, featuring all 10 seasons in one complete cowabunga collection! From their origins on the comic book page to the depths of Dimension X and beyond, the pizza- loving, shell-busting Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo, with the guidance of their Sensei Master Splinter, have been delighting fans for decades with their turtle power. Whether it’s facing fierce enemies Krang, Shredder and Lord Dregg, saving humanity from near extinction, or battling against life-altering mutations, the half-shell heroes are always ready for heart-stopping, time-bending, straight outta the sewer action!”

2) “Star Wars” Rocket Firing Boba Fett 12″ Kenner Replica Figure — Available 3/27/2013 for $85

“Gentle Giant is proud to present their take on one of the most legendary toys in action figure history – the Rocket Firing Boba Fett. Never released due to safety concerns, the few figures that found their way out of Kenner’s factories are some of the most sought-after Star Wars collectibles in the world. Digitally scanned from an authentic 3 3/4″ Kenner prototype and reproduced to a substantial 12″ tall, no detail has been overlooked. Injection molded and made of durable plastics, this jumbo figure comes fully articulated and includes real rocket-firing action! That’s not all, this classic Kenner creation comes packaged on a 1980 Empire Strikes Back-inspired blister card, featuring original artwork, in a resealable plastic outer clamshell to help protect and display!”

Given the price tags on these sexy babies I can likely only afford one, which will undoubtedly be the TMNT DVD set. That’s my childhood packaged in a sleek looking Turtle Van. I actually own the original Kenner Boba Fett figurine. It’s out of the box, missing the gun and well loved but still; it’s a piece of geek history.

Also yesterday while doing research on the ’70s “Shazam!” TV show starring Michael Gray as Billy Batson, I happened upon the opening credits for this other ’70s T.V. show I’d never heard of — “Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.” The catchy theme, sexy jogging and Dyna Girl’s pigtails were enough to make me watch the clip a couple times. Totally wish the show wasn’t before my time and I’d love to track down some episodes.

I’m involved in the webseries “Super Power Beat Down” with Bat in the Sun Productions. It’s a show which takes two super powered legends from across geek culture and makes them battle in live action fights.

My role with the show is to play co-host and master debater with my pals Damian Beurer, Marisha Ray, Jennifer Wenger and other geek experts on who would win each fight. Our roles are merely supplementary to the kick ass live action battles, but it’s a lot of fun to put together. My character comes off as a misogynistic wiener at times — I promise you I’m not like that in real life!

Our most recent episode went live recently and features two video game personas going head to head — Nathan Drake vs. Lara Croft, a.k.a. Tomb Raider.

Check it out:

Super Power Beat Down #4: Lara Croft vs. Nathan Drake

Catch all three past episodes here:

Episode #3: Wolverine vs. Batman

Episode #2: Gandalf vs. Darth Vader

Episode #1: 1960s Batmobile vs. 1980s Batmobile

If you want to vote for the winner of the next fight visit SuperPowerBeatDown.com — it’s Gambit vs. Nightwing! And now for some more behind the scenes photos:

A fun element of working in a comic book shop is you never know who will walk through the doors. Last Wednesday fine artists Denise Vasquez and Randy Martinez came by to pick up supplies for a current project. You’ll have to acquire the details from them @DeniseVasquez & @RandyMartinez — but I can tell you it’s rad and yes, Randy is rummaging through the $1 bins. I have to admit, I didn’t even recognize Denise due to her sleek new do!

Last year I covered one of their Star Wars art shows for ComicAttack.net and it was a blast. There are plenty more photos in the link! Also, my camera sucks.

Star Wars InvasionBelow are quick hits about some exciting comic book news set to take place in the next couple of months:

Dark Horse

Star Wars Rebellion: Dark Horse has pulled the plug on the title. Apparently the series’ time line (which takes place during the original trilogy) made it difficult to come up with new stories that wouldn’t contradict the already existing continuity of the best documented time period of the Star Wars Saga. Editor Randy Stradley said, “[It was a] never ending struggle to keep the line fresh and not fall into the same stuff happening every month.”

Star Wars Invasion: This new monthly title will replace Rebellion, and takes place during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion that occurs during the New Jedi Order novels. In addition to some new characters, Leia, Luke, and the Solo children will be featured. Australian playwright turned comic scribe, Tom Taylor, will write the series.

Star Wars Adventures: A new series featuring standalone stories from characters throughout the Star Wars Universe. To premiere the series, the first story is about Han and Chewie. No word yet if this is a children’s series as it has an ‘Adventures’ tag to it.

Teen Titans #71D.C.

Batman: In June R.I.P. headmaster, Grant Morrison will return to write the title. According to editor Ian Sattler, Batman will somehow tie into the Green Lantern: Blackest Night story line.

Batman Battle for the Cowl: The Network: Some of the discontinued Birds of Prey cast make their way to Gotham City to help quell the storm in Batman’s absence. Said to make appearances in this issue are Huntress, Batgirl, Misfit, Manhunter, and Ragman.

Teen Titans #71: Ravager returns to the team, but is she an ally or enemy?

IDW

GI Joe: Snake Eyes: This mini series was presented to IDW by actor Ray Park, who will be playing the silent warrior in the upcoming Joe film. Park has teamed with co-writer Kevin Van Hook and artist SL Gallant to produce the 4 issue mini series. Apparently, Park enjoyed playing the role so much that he wanted to do more with the character.

Marvel

GeNext United: As if one mini series featuring the future children of the present X-Men wasn’t enough, Chris Claremont returns to write this sequel of the less than average GeNext line. The five part series will continue the new_mutants_vol_3_1pwhere the first mini left off.

What’s going on with the Ultimate Universe: Said scribe Mark Millar, “The thing that was the problem was that the Ultimate line wasn’t very good for quite awhile- it was good when it started, and it really went off the boil after awhile. There were maybe a couple of good books, and then in the end, maybe one good book, and the whole idea is just to make it all good books again.” What Millar is talking about is the complete revamp of the Ultimate Universe as Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men, and Ultimate Fantastic Four have all been given the axe. Ultimate fans shouldn’t worry too much though, as the line is going to continue, but in an all new direction. Marvel Editor in Chief, Joe Quesada, comments on how the revamp offers more creative freedom to the production teams, “Now we’re looking at the Ultimate Universe saying, ‘what other doors can we open?’ Let’s get really kind of funky and crazy. I think you’ll see things in the Ultimate comics that we couldn’t do with other books. What is happening is we have a grand opportunity with the Ultimatum event to jump ahead a little bit. Just a little bit- not a lot. At the end of Ultimatum, there’s going to be a jump, and with that jump, we’re going to have a brand new Ultimate Spider-Man comic book.” One can only assume that something unprecedented is in stmpar-cv5_large1store for the Ultimate characters.

New Mutants #1: Due out in May, the title features original New Mutants: Cannonball, Dani Moonstar, Karma, Sunspot, Magma, and Magik. Legion, the man responsible for everything Age of Apocalypse, has returned and the New Mutants need to stop him…

Wildstorm

Storming Paradise: What if the United States armed forces had to invade Japan in the greatest conflict the world has ever seen? Find out in this alternate-history WWII mini series. Since being put on the back burner months ago, Wildstorm is finally finishing up the run beginning with issue #5 due out in May.

Special thanks to Comic Shop News for the quotes.

After being absent from the previous issue, lead character Cade Skywalker and his crew return to the pages of Star Wars Legacy. As expected, the issue didn’t disappoint.

Note: This series takes place 137 years after the Battle of Yavin.

Brief plot synopsis:

After being betrayed to the Sith by a former crew member, an alien named Rav, Cade Skywalker and his squad of pirates seek some payback. They find Rav at his Golded Gorg Cantina and force him to swear an oath of loyalty to Cade, which he squeamishly does. Unknown to Skywalker, Rav has plans of his own, as he is spying on his old friend for a more sinister employer who is Sith in nature. To complicate things, a mysterious figure has been stalking Cade and his crew, keeping tabs on their every move…

Some thoughts on the issue:

-John Ostrander’s writing is on par with what we have come to expect with this series. He makes an effort to prevent secondary plots and characters from being forgotten by readers as they get a page or two in the issue, and the lightsaber wielding Imperial Knights are the first to come to mind. I find their story intriguing as they are neither Jedi nor Sith but still posses Force powers. I look forward to reading where Ostrander goes with the Imperial Knights, considering their Force allegiance is interestingly colored grey at best.

-Jan Duursema revives her role as Legacy artist in this issue, bringing a more definitive style that is less cartoony than Alan Robinson’s art in Legacy #22. She captures facial expression very well, and her battle scenes are clear and complete with mayhem and disjointed limbs.

-Inker Dan Parsons smooth lines and solid facial definition don’t go unnoticed, and colorer Brad Anderson’s lightsaber trails look totally cool.

-Just when I was about to knock the high number of Star Wars slang terms in this issue (while cool, they can be jarring at times as everyone may not know what a ‘Manky Gornt’ is), I read the letters page and discovered a pleasant surprise. In every future letters column of the series Assistant Editor, Freddye Lins, has added a ‘Huttese Glossary.’ This glossary defines the Star Wars slang terms used in each issue. How great is that? All comic books should have letter columns.

-Some one liners:

“Mind the helm. I’m going to go talk it out with Blue. (I hate talking).” – Cade Skywalker

“Hey Artoo– Go tell Syn that he wants you.” – Cade Skywalker

“Hey, why can’t you fly the ship?! I want to impress Ahnah with my big gun!” – Jariah Syn

-Remember that 1996 book, Shadows of the Empire? Well, the mafia-esque gang, Black Sun, has survived into the Legacy era and makes an appearance in this issue.

-Speaking of survival, I am convinced that R2-D2 is indestructible as he makes an appearance under the ownership of Cade Skywalker. R2’s constant presence throughout the ages parallels that of the characters in the Vertigo series, Fables. This is to say that R2-D2 can never cease to exist as long as normal people love his character enough. I’ve faced the music; this mystical boon is clearly attributed to R2 as he never seems to go away…

The final word:

Star Wars Legacy remains at the top of my list of Star Wars titles. It’s an energized, original story about the Star Wars universe as we don’t know it.

3/5 stars

Star Wars Legacy #23

Picture Luke blowing up the Death Star.

Now fast forward 137 years and you have entered the world and of Star Wars Legacy. The series portrays a time where the movie characters are long dead, the Republic has been overthrown by the Empire, whose power was subsequently usurped by the Sith.

Typically this series features Luke’s descendant, Cade Skywalker. However, Cade and his small band of pirtes take a back seat as the supporting cast gets some face time in this action packed issue!

Brief synopsis:

The scene is the watery planet of Dac, and the action starts immediately as Emperor Darth Krayt and his Sith minions commence genocide on the native species of the planet, the Mon Calamari. Meanwhile, the Admiral of the rag tag Galactic Alliance fleet, a Duros named Gar Stazi, can only watch his holoprojector as the Mon Calamari massacare is broadcast throughout the galaxy. Useless to the fish-like aliens due to a lack of man power, Admiaral Stazi also lacks any significant fire power since the Imperious, a stolen Super (Duper) Star Destoryer of the Sith, has yet to get its weapons systems online…

Back on Dac, Mon Calamari and Rogue Squadron member, Monia Gahan, is trying desperately to escape the Sith genocide and return to her fleet. She is unexpectedly aided by two Imperial Knights, whose loyalties were sworn to the Empire before the Sith seized power. The Knights give Gahan distressing information about the Imperious that needs to reach Admiral Stazi posthaste in order to prevent an impending disaster…

And so, the race begins!

Some thoughts on the issue:

-Writer John Ostrander delivers in this title. Of all the Star Wars books, Legacy is by far the darkest, most interesting, and best written as its subject matter is uncharted territory. In the other Star Wars titles, the settings are familiar, and the characters, while interesting, don’t live up to their movie predecessors. But in Legacy the galaxy is Ostrander’s canvas, and the characters he creates are unique and engaging.

-Alan Robinson’s style of art contributes to this books success. He draws bizarre creatures very well, which is a must in a Star Wars title, and the main characters are easily discerned from the masses. Robinson’s battle scenes look great and have more violence to them than Star Wars fans may be accustomed to. I say this because the action doesn’t slow down in this issue as Stormtroopers lose heads, Imperial Officers get split in two, and Mon Calamari get fried. Personally, I appreciate the bloodlust as it sets the tone for the book, and the series. Anything less would be lame and expected.

-Some one liners:

“The Mon Calamari will have time to suffer and reflect on their crimes until all are extinct. I will purge the galaxy of their culture and history. Such will be the fate of all who oppose the Sith” – Darth Krayt

“We are Imperial Knights. We do our duty by the Emperor and the Force- No matter the cost. That is the difference between you and me.” – Sigel Dare

-Get this. In the back of the comic, there’s a letters page! How awesome!

-If you’re the type of person who can’t enjoy a Star Wars book without a lightsaber cutting something, this issue will satisfy your tastes as Sith Lords slice and dice Mon Calamari, then mix it up with Imperial Knights.

The final word:

Star Wars Legacy is easily my favorite Star Wars comic, as the stories are fresh and the characters worth investing in. I almost didn’t notice that the series’ main character, Cade Skywalker, appears in zero panels and is never mentioned in this issue. When the lead guy doesn’t show, and the issue still holds its own and then some, it’s obvious that the Force is with Legacy!

4/5 stars

Star Wars Legacy #22