Friday, September 14, 2012

Graphic Novel Review: Star Wars Knight Errant vol 2 - Deluge

Alone, deep behind enemy lines, Jedi Knight Kerra Holt has a new plan - liberate her homeworld from the Sith! But when her arrival on the planet coincides with an ambush from a Hutt mastermind, her daring rescue quickly starts looking like a suicide mission. That is, until a legion of Republic starfighters arrive, stopping the Hutt and the Sith dead in their tracks! With new allies comes a chance to go on the offensive. Unfortunately, Kerra will soon learn that the only thing worse than underestimating a Hutt is placing her trust where it isn't deserved!

I was a huge fan of the Knight Errant novel by John Jackson Miller (it's one of my favorite novels from last year) and enjoyed reading the first volume collection of the comic (which takes place before the book, but I read it after), but I was wary going into Deluge. I've been disappointed by some comics recently (Star Wars and others), and I really hoped that this one would live up to my expectations. I needn't have been concerned - I'm not sure if I've ever been disappointed in Miller's comics (his Knights of the Old Republic series is some of the best Star Wars comics to be found), and this was no less compelling than anything else I've read from him.

Kerra is such a well rounded character, trying to keep optimistic in an overwhelmingly dark universe. I've described it as such before, but this is a time in the Star Wars universe before the rise of the Repiblic as seen in the movies - like the Dark Ages on Earth. The Sith Empire has fragmented and Kerra is a lone Jedi way behind enemy lines, trying to help the people who suffer under various Sith Lords. Her homeworld has been enslaved, both by a Sith despot and by a drug which has sapped all the will out of most of its inhabitants. Just as Kerra begins to despair that she won't be able to help her own people, a group of starfighters from Republic space shows up to help. Kerra quickly joins them, forming a bond with their leader, a woman named Jenn.

Meanwhile, a Hutt has moved in looking to become the head of a crime syndicate in Sith space, with the Lords reporting to him. But he can only hope to control them by proving he is more powerful than they are - and he intends to do so by using a powerful weapon on Kerra's homeworld - one which can flood the entire planet by forcing all the moisture out of the air. Kerra and Jenn will team up to bring down this Hutt, but Jenn has her own agenda of revenge as well as a secret plot to ensure the Sith continue to wallow in their own misery and never gain enough of an advantage to attack the Republic again - at any cost.

There are so many things I loved about this comic. Despire Jenn's ulterior motive, she was a very likable character, and made for a great counter-point to Kerra. They worked very well together, moreso than I think any of her previous partners in earlier stories did. She also comes around in the end, making for a very Star Wars feel to the arc of her character, kind of a Han Solo type. She's dashing and rogue-like, and even when she was doing the wrong thing I found myself rooting for her. I hope to see her return to the comic again in the future.

Kerra herself was less serious this time around, enjoying the fact that she had new friends and real starfighter again. Sure things go badly, and one of her oldest friends seems hopelessly addicted to the drug Deluge, but no matter what she doesn't give up hope. Miller's Sith are some of the best to be found in the Star Wars universe - completely insane, believing in their own godhood, and surrounding themselves with lackies who completely buy into it as well.

The artwork in this comic was great, there's almost a hint of anime to it (I'd almost say at times it has the look of Robotech, even with some of the uniform choices for the pilots from the Republic), and while there were some issues that I think were slightly better than others, the overall book doesn't suffer from drastic differences despite the changing artist (which I only realized after finishing the book and looking for the artist's name - because I liked the work so much). I've seen in the past Miller mention that he likes to have a hand in the design of the ships in this comic, and if that has continued here I commend him and the artists involved - there's a whole array of great looking ships in this book that all look like they belong in the Star Wars universe.

Knight Errant in general is a very approachable book in any of it's forms - you do not need to have read volume 1 of the comic in order to read volume 2, and each book (both comics and novel) are all worthwhile. These are the kinds of stories that anyone who has enjoyed the movies or TV show can enjoy, without feeling overwhelmed by the amount of material you might need to read in order to get "caught up". No need here, start where you like and read what you want - it's all very enjoyable and highly recommended.

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