One of the more intriguing additions to the Star Wars expanded universe of recent years has been the Star Wars: Knight Errant series, scripted by John Jackson Miller. Set several years before Darth Bane obliterated the Sith of the old, and established the infamous Rule Of Two, Knight Errant follows the solo efforts of young Jedi Knight Kerra Holt.
Far from the safety of the Republic, Holt becomes lost behind Sith lines. The Sith, having evolved from the era of Knights Of The Old Republic, have spread across an area of the galaxy dominated by family bloodlines consistently warring against each other’s offshoots. With several chief Sith Lords (few of which carry the Darth prefix) concerned with establishing and maintaining their own power, Kerra discovers that the innocent populace of the Sith dominated planets suffer under their rule, and focuses on remaining in the region to help as many innocents as possible.
The third volume, “Escape,” is a misleading title on the surface, but once you poke a little deeper, there are some varied subtextual meanings for the name. Without giving too much away, or spoiling the content, “Escape” begins with Kerra Holt becoming well known as a Jedi saboteur in the Sith expanse, particularly to the twisted brothers warring against each other, Lord Daiman and Lord Odion.
Daiman and Odion are polar opposites of each other – with the former claiming to be creator of the cosmos, and the latter the destroyer. Despite the public appearances on their respective worlds, both are Sith and greedily crave power no matter how much surrounding populations suffer. Kerra finds herself in the regrettable situation of working for Lord Daiman to find her way into the Odion worlds.
Eventually, she finds her way there, and begins an clandestine stint as a potential Sith apprentice (among a small elite) in the command of Lord Odion. In her efforts, she learns that Odion is searching for an ancient Sith artifact imbued with the sickening powers of Sith enchantment – the Helm of Ieldis. Like most Sith artifacts from Star Wars comics, the Helm promises incredible powers to those who wield it”¦ and Odion wants it for himself – to dominate the galaxy through chaos.
While Kerra knows her true mission should be to prevent Odion, or any of the Sith commanders, from getting their hands on the Helm; she is distracted by the potential of searching for her parents who were captured in Odion’s realm. With her focus blurred, she finds herself placed in the most grievous position since the beginning of her tenure in Sith space – and places her very soul on the edge of the Dark Side of the Force and in the agony of despair.
Miller’s writing of Kerra Holt in the Knight Errant series continues to be fairly solid. His ability to center on the determination of this strong young woman facing overwhelming odds and enemies makes for some interesting reading and a change of pace to your standard “Jedi tempted by the Dark Side” plot device(s). As mentioned, Miller’s titling of “Escape” has some subtextual depth to it, particularly with regard to Holt’s character development in this volume, along with a couple of the characters she meets along the way.
Having said that though, Miller has created an incredibly detailed universe within which he makes his playground. The vast numbers of Sith warlords and complicated family connections make for some difficult reading every now and again, and do create a tumultuous focus on multitudes of antagonists rather than a select few. While Daiman and Odion dominate the flavor of this volume, and while it does fit into the concept of one-facing-overwhelming-odds, it does turn out to be hard to follow at moments.
The artwork within “Escape” is a different flavor from previous installments. The edging pencil and ink work from the team of Marco Castiello, Andrea Chella, and Vincenzo Acunzo turns the focus of characters to have deeper, more ingrained appearances, as opposed to the finer lines of the earlier issues. It matches the tone of this volume, which is much darker in its approach, as it is with the colors by Michael Atiyeh.
As with most Star Wars media, the colors and tones make for important symbolism and subtext, and Knight Errant is of no exception. Darkness reigns for the most part, with strong reds and crimsons overshadowing certain Sith realms. Daiman’s regions seem to have a “plasticky,” bright falseness, mirroring his very character and approach; while one character Yulan is found often in shades of greys. The concluding pages of the volume are spectacularly colored.
I’m intrigued as to where Knight Errant will progress from this point. Clearly, at some moment, there will be some form of explanation as to how the Sith Region era evolves into the Jedi vs. Sith conflict set decades later, and I’m curious as to see whether Miller will drive this a little forward while also continuing Holt’s crusade.
Overall, Knight Errant Volume Three is an enjoyable read, coupled with some distinguished (and intense) visuals. Though the antagonist elements are overwhelming at times, the focus on Kerra Holt as a strong young woman facing impossible obstacles and challenges makes for an inspiring read. Most Star Wars geeks will enjoy this series, particular those who enjoyed the first Knights Of The Old Republic comic series and the Jedi Vs. Sith graphic novel. Your average comic reader might get a bit of value from this trade paperback, but I think this one is mainly a publication for the Star Wars fans.