Thursday, July 14, 2011
1032 BBY: Knight Errant: Aflame
The quality of any Good vs. Evil narrative is not found in the hero, but in the villain. It’s the villain who drives the story and tests the excellence of the hero; Theseus has the Minotaur, McMurphy has nurse Ratched, and Luke has Vader. Though Kerra Holt is an interesting hero, the real story of Knight Errant, for me, is Lord Daiman. With that being said though I don’t want to dismiss any discussion of Kerra just yet, she is an interesting heroine in her own right.
Firstly, the obvious comparison to make with Kerra Holt is Zayne Carrick, JJM’s other Jedi protagonist from the KOTOR comic series. I’ve spilt much ink on Zayne in my musing over that particular comic series, suffice it to say, he is one of my favorite Jedi in Star Wars history thus far, the reason being his consistent ethic of life. Zayne lived the Jedi code and never once took a life. It’s a stance I admire and respect because it demonstrates Zayne’s belief in the responsible use of power. He’s a Jedi, not a judge. He’s there to protect those who cannot protect themselves, not kill because it’s convenient. Kerra Holt is the opposite. She has no problem slicing through Sith soldiers, and twice through the narrative went on killing quests to do away with either Daiman or Odion.
Keera is a different type of Jedi because she has to be. As I mentioned in my post on Knight Errant: Influx, it seems here we have a Jedi Order who is highly militarized. They are at war with the Sith, and the drudgery of war has led the Jedi to act in a philosophical manner that is consistent with ‘the ends justify the means’. Vannar Treece’s attack on the Sith ships of Chelloa is an example of this shoot first and ask questions later attitude. Strictly speaking, it seems to me the Jedi in this particular era are not Jedi at all, it’s simply an ancient title they carry to identify themselves to the world around them. What they really are are ‘Warriors of the Force’ – a title I believe is more fitting.
The only Jedi in Knight Errant: Aflame I’ve met so far is Gorlan Palladne, a humanitarian who uses his Force abilities to help the weak and downtrodden. He behaves as I think a Jedi should – to first protect and help those who get trampled by evil (save the 60,000 workers from the Sith), and if the occurrence arises to then face evil head-on, (duel with Odion) and when it does stand firm and strong, and be at peace. Gorlan had many opportunities to strike out at Lord Daiman, but chose not to because he knew killing in cold blood was not the Jedi way. But this did not make him weak, as when the proper time and placed showed itself, he raised his saber against Odion, and fought the Sith Lord head-on.
I say all this not indicate I don’t like Kerra Holt – I do. I like her brashness, her all or nothing philosophy, and her single minded determination. I also love how she messes with Daiman by removing the heads of all his statues as she comes across them.
As it is, what I’ve enjoyed most of Knight Errant: Aflame is Lord Daiman the “creator of the universe” – this guy is intriguing, and far from crazy, as some people have claimed. Firstly, he looks cool: his red cape and gold colored armor give him a kingly quality, yet his different colored eyes are an unsettling feature. My favorite picture of him is found in issue #2 on page 5. But make no mistake, this guy is not crazy: crazy is sitting in the forest naked trying to lather squirrels in ketchup. This guy has come to the only logical conclusion he can see: that he is the creator of the universe, which really, given his position, is a belief that is not as mad as it seems on the surface.
I know I’ve come to wonder and almost give credence to solipsism as well. Tell me you’ve never once thought that your life is really the Truman Show, and all the people in it are, at best, actors in a giant hoax, at worst, all figments of your imagination. Tell me you haven’t once though ‘the only thing I know to exist is my own self, and I have no way of knowing or proving the existence of anyone or anything’. Tell me you’ve never though that all of reality is simply your imagining of reality. Now, if you have thought these thoughts, picture yourself as an immensely powerful Sith Lord, able to manipulate this reality with the use of the Force, with countless worlds under your power, with billions if not trillions of beings as your slaves, and with an endless array of weaponry to use at your disposal, and not latch on to the idea that since you are an immensely powerful being you are the center of all existence, that you’ve actually created all this because you were bored and wanted a challenge. To use Lord Daiman’s own words: “I was bored, and so I created the universe. I have no direct knowledge of the time before time. But I infer that wherever I was, nothing could challenge me. And so I created a new existence. All matter, all energy are manifestations of my undying spirit. But while I gave all beings motion, not all beings serve me. For I also created an opponent – in Odion. He claims he is my older brother – But I, or course, have no kin or kind. He is simply what I must overcome to advance.” (Issue 4, pg. 1). What I love about Daiman is that I can believe a Sith can naturally come to these conclusions. It makes sense.
Lord Daiman is a villain worth getting excited about, plus, he has all the best lines so far. When speaking to Kerra as he was trapped in a stasis field he says to her: “This thing you call reality might well be just a Force vision to test me. I’m not convinced that you exist” (issue #2 pg. 19). If a Sith Lord pulled this on me I think I might enter some existential loop, next thing you know I’m wondering if I’m really who I think I am, then pow! He’s got me! Also, when speaking to one of his lieutenants, he says to him: “Give me that! I can’t trust you nonentities with anything” (issue #5, pg. 10). I love how Daiman has completely committed to the idea that he is the only being in existence. Finally, my other favorite line was when he needed to get off the mountain: “I created this mountain! It will do as I say!”. His lieutenant wryly replies back: “You did – but it’s not listening now!” (Issue #5, pg. 12). I think JJM has struck gold with this villain he has created. Well done.
Before I conclude I want to make a couple more observations, namely on the artwork. For the most part I enjoyed the art, my only complaint being the inconsistent depiction of Odion. In the first issue he seemed to be rather pudgy, which I liked. I thought our introduction to him was rather neat – a fatty Sith Lord with a red monocle. But as the issues went on Odion became more fit and muscular. But even though I enjoyed fat Odion over fit Odion, I think if I had to choose between Dallocchio or Rodriguez I’d go with Rodriguez. His style is more reminiscent of comic art from when I was a kid.
Besides character art, I also enjoyed the presentation of technology from this era, namely the ships. One of the things I most love from this era of Star Wars history is the Fairwind – Farfalla’s flagship from the pages of Jedi vs. Sith. I really liked how Daiman’s ship had that naval galley look to them, like the Fairwind but on a bigger scale. It almost seems like Daiman is what Farfalla would be if he fell to the darkside.
For these reasons, and so many others, I thoroughly enjoyed the first five issues of the Knight Errant comic series and I’m looking forward to reading the next five. But my time with Keera Holt is not at an end. For my next post I’ll be examining the Knight Errant novel , so until then my friends, may the Force be with you.