The super spy James Bond seems like an unlikely figure to appear in the Star Wars universe. But taking a closer look, the fantasy franchise contains all the tropes of a classic James Bond story: exotic locations, treacherous crime lords, and beautiful women (right down to the gold bikinis). So it was only a matter of time until someone created 007-level spy for the galaxy far, far away… which is exactly what John Ostrander did when he imagined ‘Jahan Cross, Agent of the Empire’ for Dark Horse’s Star Wars comic books, now classified as a ‘Legend’ by Disney.
Drawing elements from Daniel Craig’s Bond (who inspired Cross’ appearance), fictional assassin Jason Bourne, and Mission: Impossible, Ostrander and artist Stéphane Roux crafted a suave, ruthless secret agent willing and able to do anything to get the job done. What makes Jahan Cross unique, however, is that he works for the “bad guys” – conducting espionage and assassination missions for Imperial Intelligence. Still, there are a lot of grey areas in the spy business, and it’s often difficult to decide whether Cross’ actions benefit the Empire, the Rebels, or a different party entirely.
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With both Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and James Bond’s 25th film No Time to Die about to be released, now is an excellent time to take a closer look at Star Wars’ own super spy and discover what makes Jahan Cross tick.
Star Wars: Agent of the Empire “Iron Eclipse”
Jahan Cross first appears in the Dark Horse Star Wars: Agent of the Empire miniseries “Iron Eclipse.” Beginning with a scene lifted straight from Daniel Craig’s first appearance in Casino Royale (2006), Cross shows up in the office of an Imperial Colonel secretly selling Imperial droids on the black market. Cross kills the treacherous colonel – a move that upsets his superior at Imperial Intelligence. However, when Cross informs him that the colonel was selling droids to a former pirate turned corrupt businessman for a secret project code named “Iron Eclipse,” the Empire sends Cross to investigate.
As an Agent of the Empire, Cross works undercover as a “diplomatic envoy,” a role that grants him diplomatic immunity. He gets his gadgets from a pair of “Q” type inventors including a human who supplies him with weapons and gliding “Parawings” (which prove inexplicably handy later on). The second is an alien who maintains Cross’ droid assistant IN-GA 44 (aka “Inga”) a rare “human replica droid” that can be covered with synthetic flesh and pass as a human female. However, Cross keeps Inga “naked,” stating he prefers his droids to look like droids. A formidable fighter in both weapons and hand-to-hand combat, Cross attributes his battle prowess to Imperial training. Like James Bond, Cross holds the rank of Commander, although in his case, it’s in the Imperial Navy.
The story offers other tantalizing bits of Cross’ backstory and character. We learn his loyalty to the Empire stems from a traumatic childhood experience on Coruscant during the Clone Wars when a firefight between the Separatists and Republic led to the deaths of his mother and sister. Not realizing the event was orchestrated by Chancellor Palpatine – and believing the anti-Jedi propaganda, Cross decided only the Empire could keep the galaxy from descending into chaos and joined Imperial Intelligence. That choice estranged him from his father, a prominent diplomat. As the story progresses, however, we discover Cross’ true loyalty is to his own sense of morality and order – and that he will sacrifice everything from his own safety to those he loves to preserve this.
Cross’ mission follows all the beats of a tense espionage thriller. He infiltrates the Stark mansion and seduces Stark’s widow Dah’lis and daughter Elli. After interrogating and sleeping with Dah’lis (a green Nautolan alien), Cross gets knocked out and wakes up to find Dah’lis, in true Bond girl fashion, dead. Framed for the murder, Cross gets disavowed Mission: Impossible-style by the Empire. To clear his name, Cross teams up with Elli and an old friend – Han Solo who once trained with Cross at the Imperial Academy. Solo and the Millennium Falcon serve as Cross’ getaway ship as he travels to Stark’s space faring hotel and uncovers the secret behind “Iron Eclipse.”
Remarkably, Cross remains an Imperial loyalist throughout “Iron Eclipse” – although his awareness of corruption causes him to withhold key bits of information from the Empire. His understandable motivations coupled with his code of honor make him a rarity in the Star Wars universe – a self-proclaimed “bad man” who regularly does good things.
Star Wars: Agent of the Empire “Hard Targets”
Jahan Cross returns in the second Star Wars: Agent of the Empire miniseries “Hard Targets,” this time as a cold-blooded assassin who murders Adan Dooku, nephew of the Sith Lord Count Dooku. Although Cross believes Adan to be an enemy of the state, he later learns the hit was ordered by a political opportunist who paid the Empire to get Dooku out of the way. Finally beginning to question the Empire, Cross travels to the planet Serenno where Adan’s orphaned son Bron becomes the new Count Dooku. As Bron is too young to perform as count, Cross is ordered to make sure the corrupt Lord Borgin (whom Cross deduces was behind the entire machination) takes Bron’s power as Regent of Serenno.
“Hard Targets” delves deeper into Cross’ motivations and his connection to other Star Wars characters. Although he killed Bron’s father, Cross now looks out for the boy, who has also become a target for assassination. His compassion extends to other innocent pawns in his spy games – whom Cross identifies with his sister Jens. Readers even discover Cross has a history with Princess Leia, who admits she had a mad crush on the secret agent – for three whole days.
However, Cross’ biggest interactions are with Boba Fett, whom he impersonated with a counterfeit suit of Mandalorian armor to murder Adan Dooku. As he grows more disillusioned with the Empire and concerned with Bron’s well-being, Cross concocts a risky plan that manipulates the Mandalorian bounty hunter into killing Lord Borgin. It works – but it leaves Cross out of favor with the Empire and facing an uncertain future.
Is Jahan Cross Still Part of Star Wars Canon?
Although Dark Horse’s Star Wars comics are now part of Star Wars ‘Legends,’ one bit of Star Wars trivia still links Jahan Cross to current Star Wars canon. In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rey is held captive in Starkiller Base – and successfully performs the Jedi Mind Trick on a First Order Stormtrooper, convincing him to free her. The actor who played that Stormtrooper? None other than James Bond himself, Daniel Craig.
Considering Jahan Cross was modeled after Craig’s version of Bond, could the Stormtrooper possibly be Cross (working undercover)? While tempting to speculate, it seems unlikely. Cross’ adventures take place three years before the Battle of Yavin, prior to the original Star Wars trilogy. This means that over 37 years would have passed between Cross’ exploits and The Force Awakens, putting Cross in his late sixties. More importantly, it seems unlikely that a quick thinker like Cross could be weak minded enough to fall victim to a Jedi Mind Trick – particularly one cast by a novice like Rey.
Even so, Jahan Cross’ adventures are still too fun to be considered non-canon. Star Wars has a rich history of folding outside genres, from Westerns to swashbuckling pirate adventures, into its space opera, and the spy genre proves a natural fit. Here’s hoping, then, that future Star Wars comics include further appearances from Cross… Jahan Cross.
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