It’s bee a while since we got the last issue of Star Wars: Hyperspace Stories, which told four tales from across the Star Wars timeline, that all seemed to have a very slight connection with each other. Those issues followed the heroes of the various trilogies, with characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Finn, and Rey Skywalker leading the stories. After a small break it looks like the series is back, and it’s letting the villains run things for a while.
The fifth issue focuses on fan favourite assassin, Asajj Ventress, and takes place during the very early days of the Clone Wars. Thanks to some context clues, this story has to be taking place very soon after the events of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and before the events of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, though there does seem to be a few mistakes in the book that mess with placement a little.
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The story begins on a remote base, one held by the Jedi and the Republic forces. Ventress, under orders from Count Dooku, infiltrates the facility, but is soon captured by a Jedi knight and her padawan. Locked in a cell for days, it’s revealed to have been part of her plan, and she eventually breaks out once the Jedi leave, taking over the facility for her master. Much like with Ventress as we see her in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this is a Ventress very much under the thumb of Dooku, being used as an expendable resource who’s only useful as long as she’s getting results.
The rest of the book deals with Ventress being sent after a lost artefact, one powerful with the Force, that Dooku tells her will allow the two of them to overcome Sidious, and supplant him as the true Sith. Ventress is led a merry chase across a number of worlds as she searches for the artefact; a search that will bring her into conflict with more Republic forces.
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It seems that this issue isn’t as disconnected from the previous four as it first appears. Thanks to the gap in publication, and the change from heroes to villains, it looked like perhaps the series would be going in a different direction, and would cover a different story for this second arc. However, it seems that the artefact Ventress is being sent after is the same thing hidden in the wookiee doll in the very first issue, as she comes across that same doll here.
This plot point was never fully explained in that first issue, and it seemed like characters with Force connections were being drawn to places this doll existed, so it makes sense that it has some connection to the Force. However, like with the previous issues, we don’t really get any explanation. What is the artefact? How will it help Dooku and Ventress beat Sidious? Why could Ventress sense it from different planets but the heroes couldn’t feel it right in front of them across the three trilogy timelines? None of these answers get given. As such, it seems like one of two things is going to happen: either this is the big plot for the entire series, or it’s simply a mcguffin and it doesn’t matter.
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The art on the issue, by Riccardo Faccini and Dan Jackson, is good for the most part, and all of the returning characters look enough like their film and television counterparts to be instantly recognisable. There are some moments in the book that look really great too, with a couple of panels of both Dooku and Ventress being the best I’ve ever seen them look in comic form. However, there are a few moments that don’t land as well.
There’s a scene in which Ventress gets tripped into a cell by an unseen assailant. And this moment is conveyed by a panel simply showing a pair of feet. It’s the only part of this Jedi we see, and it feels really clunky and a bit of a let down. There are also some mistakes in the depiction of Anakin Skywalker in this issue too. This is set after Star Wars: Attack of the Clones as the Clone War is in full swing, and Anakin is a Jedi knight, yet he has two hands in this issue. The hand that he lost in the second film isn’t a robot hand, nor is it covered with a glove, and is a regular flesh and blood appendage. This is a pretty glaring mistake for anyone who knows the prequel era well.
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Other than a few parts that don’t quite land that well, and a story that kind of fizzles out for a bit towards the end, this is a decent enough restart to the series. It’s not fantastic, but it’s not terrible either. It’s a perfectly serviceable story in a decent era of Star Wars. Hopefully, though, the quality will improve somewhat as the series continues.
Star Wars: Hyperspace Stories #5 is out now from Dark Horse.