“No one dares face the wrath of Kylo Ren!” So reads the cover of Star Wars: Hyperspace Stories #8. This installment of the Hyperspace Stories series takes place before Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and features the three prominent villains from the film: Kylo Ren, General Hux, and Supreme Leader Snoke. Snoke sends Hux and Ren to the planet Karaxis to bring it under the control of the First Order. Unfortunately, nothing exciting occurs on this mission. No new ground is broken for the characters, and the action is resolved quickly and easily.
The placement of Hyperspace Stories #8 in Star Wars canon is rather confusing. As soon as the comic begins, we get the sense that these events are happening quite some time—maybe even years—before The Force Awakens. Snoke implies that Ren has not built up his reputation as the fearsome enforcer we and the galaxy know him to be in Episode VII. Hux even tries to get Ren to work alongside him on their mission to Karaxis, which suggests that the two are not at each other’s throats yet, as they soon will be in the sequel movies.
Once we get to the comic’s conclusion, the timeline starts to get strange. Ren says that there is an unusual Force presence on Karaxis that he cannot trace back to a source. He suspects it comes from a family he interacts with (more on that family later), or even the planet of Karaxis itself, but he ultimately cannot identify it. Snoke is no help, either. He says that it could be a Force-related artifact, like a holocron, but then criticizes Ren for not investigating further when he himself doesn’t know what the presence could be. As a reader, I am deeply confused by this strange Force presence. Is it a holocron? Is it Palpatine? Is it the family or the planet itself, like Ren said? Or is Ren sensing Rey, and the beginnings of her awakening? If it is Rey, where does that put Hyperspace Stories #8 relative to The Force Awakens in the canon timeline of the movies?
Regarding the family Kylo Ren faces in the comic’s middle—the young boy, Kelvin’s son, looks suspiciously like John Boyega’s Finn. Considering that Ren feels that previously-mentioned Force presence when he is looking at the child, it could very well be Finn…if the canon timeline wasn’t again completely disrupted by the child’s age. The boy shown here looks to be about six years old. Aside from the fact that this is already too old an age to be taken away for the stormtrooper program, if it is supposed to be Finn, how old is Ren supposed to be in the comic? He was 23 at the end of The Rise of Kylo Ren, and 29 in The Force Awakens. Finn is definitely not 17 years younger than Ren, especially if he is close in age to Rey, who is 19 during the events of Episode VII. So if this boy is not Finn, why would the artists create a new character that looks eerily similar to a well-known character from the movies? (It’s like using Andy Serkis in Andor. Can you blame me for thinking Kino Loy had something to do with Snoke?)
Ironically, one of the characters that should be recognizable—Hux—looks nothing like his movie counterpart, save for his bright red hair. I could practically hear Flynn Rider from Tangled complaining: “They just can’t get my nose right!”
Overall, Hyperspace Stories #8 is a confusing, disappointing addition to the canon material of Star Wars. Maybe someday, Disney will stop squandering the potential of its best sequel character, Kylo Ren. Until then, I’ll just rewatch The Last Jedi and think of what could have been.