When young rogue Iarco Stark decides the galaxy needs a good shake, you know Stark Hyperspace War is just ready to rumble.
Set after Darkness, with Aayla Secura returned to the Council for retraining following her current amnesia, this story is told in flashback when a veteran just seems to walk into the room. A dozen years before TPM, the attack on a bacta refinery sends market prices soaring and worlds roaring. Into the equation come the Jedi diplomatic team, and shadowing their tails the radical Ranulph Tarkin, whose military ambitions outweigh whatever usefulness his puffing presence offers. Throw in Stark's smarmy mouth, the expectant flavour of bumbling Jedi, and the resulting recipe is action all the way.
Or at least, that's the overall idea. The reality is action on a pony ride.
Readers of Hunt for Aurra Sing and Acts of War will find the art familiar. This means saber blades and energy shots are little more than colour sticks, illustrations and detail simple. Not terribly sophisticated, but it gets the job done. But it's those darn floating heads that can grate on you, and head shots there are plenty, reminding you not to confuse the present to the main flashback escapade, as though that was even possible. Senator Valorum didn't look a thing like his movie counterpart, but neither did Calrissian in Scoundrel's Luck . . . and it's not like Antilles resembled his alter ego all that much too in his Rogue Squadron series, but what the hey, it's all creative liberty.
The Republic fleet consists of the ubiquitous Consular cruisers and a variety of other Judicial Dept refitted cruisers. Artists seem to like that particular of nondescript attack fighter, the one Sing flew in her Hunt for Aurra comic. Alien variety wasn't too high either, but the nature of the setting didn't demand it.
Stark Hyperspace has only half of its issue fronts collected in the TPB, a criminal trend that SW comics seem to be doing. An outrageous snub to TPB collectors seeing how you can fit them all one measly page, and how cool the Wookie Jedi looked with those blaster bolts blazing around his saber swing!
Apparently it was yet again necessary to remind us who was who with the use of full character names. Ask yourself who speaks each other's full names in your home, class or workplace, that comics demand this highly annoying custom. Why would a Jedi conversing with a fellow Jedi they've known for decades slow their speech with such needless formality? Yes, TPBs are several issues combined, but you don't need that many instances.
The popularity of Republic comics has made Jon Ostrander an equally popular name among fans. As the primary Jedi Plo Koon didn't waste words on the mess they're neck in, Valorum was refreshingly blunt, the Jedi still talk like archaic holos and Tarkin's father was a cold air balloon of blustering wasted potential. Humour wasn't wasted, however, and Billy Bango's howling at them wippersnappers shows why it's good to have more Podracer-type aliens.
No Jedi story is complete without a Jedi death, of course, but comics and books have showed a Hutt load of them dying in the most inane and casual ways. You started asking why Sith need work themselves so hard, or what value the formidable Tyyvoka's allegedly canny foresight is really worth. Buy SW comics and you see the familiar pattern: when you're told a Jedi is particularly powerful, they don't seem to last long. But it's damn refreshing to see new Jedi take the stage for once, and this is where Stark Hyperspace has its value. Koon may have his cameos elsewhere, but he leads the show here. Jinn and Kenobi support the cast, rather than dominate them for once, and it's great to see Tholme and Quinlin as a pair, particularly as Kenobi and Quin are fledgling apprentices. Their friendship is forged here, to be tested in later Republic stories. Like all her comics inclusions, though, Adi Gallia does little.
The ending comes out as a little weak, but not quite the style you're used to seeing in general. But hey, with Koon playing his telepathy, action galore and more Neimodian whimpering, you can find far better juvenile drivel like Betrayal and those twin TOTJ prequel nonsense.