No matter where you are – or when you are – it’s always good to have a trusty lightsaber in your hand.
Last year, Dark Horse Comics pioneered an undiscovered time in Star Wars canon by going back 1000 years before the birth of Luke Skywalker – a time where the Sith are running rampant on the Outer Rim of the galaxy, and the ailing Republic and Jedi have given up on the outer territories in order to defend the planets closer to home. The only hope for the inhabitants of these remotes planets is one of them – a Jedi who is a refugee from one of the planets on the Outer Rim, who is coming back to her home territory to make things right. Her name is Kerra Holt, and her story is called Knight Errant.
This new spin-off to the legendary Star Wars canon was brought to be by comics writer John Jackson Miller. Miller has been writing Star Wars comics since 2005, inclduing the long-running Knights of the Old Republic and launching Knight Errant with a comic series in 2010 subtitled Aflame and a prose novel just last month. With fans rallying to this new chapter in the epic story, Miller is back to tell a new standalone story in Kerra Holt’s life called Knight Errant: Deluge.
Knight Errant: Deluge was teased in the current issue of Star Wars Insider, but it wasn’t until today’s panel at C2E2 that fans got real information. Newsarama.com caught up with Knight Errant scribe John Jackson Miller earlier this month to talk in-depth for this exclusive first interview about the new series.
Newsarama: For those who may not have read the novel or the first mini-series, can you tell us about Kerra Holt?
John Jackson Miller: Kerra Holt is young Jedi who lives a thousand years before Episode I, in a time when there are many different Sith Lords battling each other for dominance on the Outer Rim of the galaxy. It’s really a Dark Age, as both the Republic and the Jedi have abandoned a lot of territory.
Kerra Holt hails from this abandoned territory — specifically, a planet called Aquilaris. When Sith invaded the planet, she was rescued by a Vannar Treece, one of the few Jedi willing to venture into this area. Treece brought her to the Republic and trained her to become a living weapon — and as an adult, Kerra attempts to do what she couldn’t do as a kid: namely, fight against the Sith back home.
But her very first mission with Treece goes horribly awry, as we saw in the first Knight Errant series, Aflame. Everyone but Kerra died, forcing her to fend for herself. Driven by desperation, Kerra first considers going out in a blaze of glory by taking on one of the warring Sith Lords — until she realizes that she might be able to serve the people better by simply rescuing the people who are caught in the middle of the conflict.
In the Knight Errant novel, which takes place between Aflame and the new series Deluge, Kerra learned that mission was easier said than done. It’s not good enough, she realizes, just to get people out of immediate harm’s way; there’s danger everywhere in Sith space. Half-measures aren’t good enough. Anyone she saves has to go back to the Republic. And that’s an added burden for someone who came to Sith space hoping to actually fight and win battles; it’s a lot of weight to put on an eighteen-year old.
As Deluge opens, Kerra has returned, at last, to Aquilaris, responding to a distress call. It’s the chance she’s been looking for to score some points and get some personal satisfaction from it. But it comes at a time of increasing frustration for Kerra, too. People living out in the Sith-controlled Outer Rim are completely battered down and downtrodden; it’s not ripe for mounting a rebellion or revolution. Many of the people here have been enslaved for their entire lives, and there’s drug abuse, as people try to forget their hardships. More than anything, she could use some help…
…and we give it to her. Knight Errant: Deluge sees her getting her fondest dream: competent help she can trust. New allies arrive from the Republic in the form of Captain Jenn Devaad and her Devil Squadron, the advance team for the mercy mission known as Grace Command. In many ways, they’re like the allies that Kerra lost in that initial disaster; absolutely what she was looking for. Other allies she’s had, like Jarrow Rusher in the novel, she couldn’t quite trust because they’d worked for the Sith. Devaad definitely doesn’t. For Kerra, it’s an enormously happy moment — a chance to get back on the path she wanted to walk.
Joe Quinones’ cover for the first issue really suggests it all — it’s almost like a patriotic World War II poster. Kerra Holt is back in the fight!
Nrama: We’ve seen a wide range of Jedi Knights across Star Wars canon – where do you think Kerra falls in that spectrum?
Miller: Kerra’s very different from Luke Skywalker or Zayne from Knights of the Old Republic — they’re naturally very friendly. By nature of her background, Kerra is more protective of her thoughts and feelings, more defensive; and very, very driven. She’s almost exhausting to be around. I think of gifted children who are training to excel in a specific subject or a particular sport for their entire lives; she’s like that. And like some of them, she’s not really accustomed to failing, to being thwarted. Her coping skills could use some work. When Kerra hits too many roadblocks, she lashes out; when she’s completely stymied, she’s prone to despair. As a writer, it’s my job to throw as many roadblocks at her as I can.
She’s also fairly detached from the Jedi order, in more ways than just geography. She went to the Academy to get the skills, not the philosophy lesson. Which is too bad, because as she’s forced to make her own decisions, she could often use their guidance.
Nrama: What does the subtitle of this series, “Deluge”, refer to?
Miller: On the simplest level, “Deluge” is the name of the drug that’s circulating in the populations Kerra encounters; it’s one of the things making it hard for Kerra to help the people help themselves, and an added source of frustration for her. But there’s another meaning, and it relates to a new invasion that’s taking place — from a completely different quarter. We’ve shown Sith-on-Sith violence; now, we’ll see that other opportunists are out there, waiting to take advantage of the situation.
As we’ve seen, the Hutts are Sith-like in many aspects of their attitudes and behavior — there are some differences, of course, but in their own way, the Hutts are a plague of equal menace. Readers familiar with the Star Wars Atlas may have seen that in this time period one of the largest regions ostensibly under Sith control is Hutt Space; as we’ll learn, it’s an open question who’s controlling whom. And they’re ready to branch out: one of the most intrepid Hutts, Zodoh, sees nothing but opportunity in the chaos of the Grumani Sector. He could either be kingmaker in the battle between Sith Lords Daiman, Odion, and their rivals — or king himself!
So we really do have the flood on the way: plagues from in the neighborhood, and plagues from without!
Nrama: In many ways, Knight Errant: Deluge is a homecoming for Kerra as she returns to Aquilaris. But the last time she saw it was under a Sith invasion, and now years later it’s firmly under the thumb of the Sith. How does it compare to what she remembers from her childhood?
Miller: The whole place has gone through the wringer. It’s changed hands many times under Sith control, and there’s far fewer people living here than before. Before the invasion it was a resort world – a sort of aquatic paradise. Now it’s fallen into disrepair and is being used to generate seafood for ship out to whichever Sith lord is running the place at the time. It’s currently under the dominance of Lord Daiman from the first comic series, Aflame.
She encounters a childhood friend that shows her what life would have been like if she’s stayed — but she also sees a more positive picture in Captain Devaad. She’s older than Kerra, but very similar in a lot of ways — and, again, doing exactly what Kerra hopes to do. Fighting — and helping, as her squadron clears the way for food and supplies to be delivered.
Two new relationships — and both will change Kerra, and how she sees herself and her own mission. Is Devaad really heading in the same direction she is? Can Kerra surrender her independence to be part of a larger movement – or is it more important for Kerra to follow her own heart and judgment? We’ll find out in Deluge.
I will say one of wonderful things about this series is that it fulfills something I’ve wanted to do for a long time; a story that’s got a lot of fighter combat. Beyond the squadron, we’re debuting a lot of new designs from our series artists, Ivan Rodriguez, Iban Coello and Sergio Abad — some of the coolest ships I’ve seen in a long time. There’s even one design that may make readers rethink the idea of the starfighter…
Nrama: Are there any familiar characters here people might know from other series such as previous Knight Errant stories or in general to the Star Wars canon?
Miller: We’ll get our first look at some of the characters that were mentioned in the Knight Errant novel, which is available now from Del Rey. Readers don’t have to have read that to enjoy Deluge, but it’s fun background. While Deluge occurs after the events of the novel, it’s not about tying up threads from it; there are a lot of stories to be told in this time, and a lot of sights to see. We don’t always hit readers with the obvious stories they immediately expect — where would be the surprise, otherwise? I think Deluge adds a lot to the Knight Errant story — including a lot about what’s going on beyond the frontiers.