“I just don’t know, dude. This book… it’s giving me issues. It’s giving me existential doubt. It’s giving me angst.” I whined, careful to use the proper German pronunciation regardless of the fact that we were communicating via Facebook.
“What? Did the PDF not open? What’s wrong with it?” Saint Michael of Perpetual Patience promptly responded.
“No, that’s all fine. It’s just… it says it’s an August Dark Horse release, but it feels like a mid-90s Marvel book, through and through. I mean, it even has anti-gravity breasts!”
The stunned silence that followed provided adequate shaming to motivate me to get back to work.
Had this been a mid-90s Marvel book – or were I still mid-90s me – I would have been all over it. It has everything that I thought was cool then: Explosions! Treachery! Strong female heroes! Space! Lantern-jawed men whose impossibly chiseled abs are clear through inexplicably tight shirts! More explosions! (I will say that I found perfectly spherical breasts confusing, even then). Who cares about pacing or character development? This thing just looks cool.
Obviously, we are no longer in the mid-90s and thankfully, I am no longer mid-90s me – so I expect a bit more balance from comics now. Knight Errant suffers from trying to do too much at once, trying to pack too many stories into a very limited series. Sure, most of these stories have potential – there really is something cool to the cross/double-cross fake-out here, something tricky to the orphan-or-not reveal – but that potential never reaches the surface.
There’s too much to set up for all of these storylines to fold together neatly in so few issues; unfortunately, this gives rise to the stilted dialogue as characters fall into the trap of Leading Question/Lengthy Explanation as way of exposition. It’s fine enough once or twice, forgivable on the third time, but when most of the storytelling is done through conveniently on-point questions that just so happen to explain current events? It becomes a drinking game.
Knight Errant fits into Dark Horse’s constantly developing Star Wars universe, exploring the tension between rival Sith leaders and brothers Odion and Daiman and the small holdouts of hope in their increasingly destroyed world. One such holdout is orphaned Jedi Kerra Holt, a double agent infiltrating Odion’s regime while working to undermine Sith rule. She’s sent in search of the Helm of Ieldis for Odion, a quest that brings her closer to finding her parents and fulfilling her destiny.
Feels like a lot for a one-paragraph synopsis? It’s actually not even the half of it. There are interesting, engaging storylines at work in here – Odion’s power feeds off of despair so he will paradoxically be at his strongest when there’s no one left to rule. Kerra is “rescued” as she attempts suicide, the cost of her salvation enlistment in Odion’s corps – since, if she’s already willing to die, there’s no harm in using her as an expendable errand force. Even the pseudonym that Kerra takes up – Mercy – points to some important Big Ideas – but, as with much of this story, those Big Ideas fall under the weight of too many other storylines.
A lot of what’s keeping me twisted up about Knight Errant is that there is so much potential that just can’t fight against stilted dialogue or the throwback style. I want to like this book – I really, really want to like it – but it has been a fight to do so. Fortunately, with the world explained and the key players in place, the end of #3 started to pick up – Kerra, finally holding a light saber and acting as a good Jedi should, accidentally leads Odion straight to the helm. Finally, it feels like things can progress – a far cry from earlier in the book when Kerra invokes the cliché of explaining all of her plans, out loud and to herself, while sneaking around where she’s not supposed to be.
I’m trying very hard to get into Knight Errant and last two pages of this issue might finally find my interest piqued. Normally, I’d expect this kind of book easy for Dark Horse – popular characters in new worlds/stories, interpersonal relationships mirroring life at large, twists and turns and a clever destabilization of a pure Good vs. Evil. But, something just hasn’t clicked in here yet, leaving Knight Errant struggling to catch up, fighting its way back from the mid-90s.