The stories behind the stories

Star Wars: Knight Errant – Escape #1

“Onward, chattel! Form on the Novitiates and make your perimeter — in Odion’s name!” — Kerra Holt, as Mercy

“Escape” Part 1

Jedi Knight Kerra Holt’s next mission starts with a very personal and ultrasecret investigation! But with the dark realities of Sith territory surrounding her, something unexpected may be taking hold of the lone Jedi! As she takes the first step toward her goal, Kerra knows there will be no turning back!
Published by Dark Horse • June 13, 2012
Written by John Jackson Miller

Art by Marco Castiello and Vincenzo Acunzo

Lettered by Michael Heisler

Colored by Michael Atiyeh

Cover by Benjamin Carré and Mike Hawthorne

Edited by Dave Marshall and Freddye Lins

When I plotted Escape in the late summer of 2011, I’d had several of the elements in mind for a long time. We’d shown some of Kerra’s personal history, but we hadn’t told all of it. We’d seen bits and pieces, only — fragments, as a survivor would remember. And while we’d seen some of Odion’s realm in Aflame and what it was like to work for him in the novel, there was a lot about how his realm was structured that remained out unseen.

There are things Kerra doesn’t know about her past — and Escape, the third comics series, begins to peel away the mysteries once and for all. Odion has loomed large in the story of her life; with the first issue of Escape, we’re beginning to see that their destinies have been intertwined all along. Escape is in many ways the most personal of the Knight Errant stories so far — and it could well be the strongest. I certainly feel that way. This is a story that forever changes the Knight Errant world as we’ve known it — and Kerra’s life, as well.

This was the first Star Wars series of mine fully to be managed by Jennifer Heddle, who joined the Lucasfilm team as fiction editor in 2011. While returning other members of the team, Escape was also the first series drawn completely by one artist, Marco Castiello — with inks by Vincenzo Acunzo. That’s another thing that really helps the story overall — previously, no artist had gone more than three issues on the series. Great covers by Benjamin Carré and Mike Hawthorne also helped set the mood: this is serious business going on in this story. Castiello’s Kerra looks about as I imagine her; a mix of the steely warrior she’s trained herself to be with hints of the youth she is every now and again.

Odion’s disability was mentioned first in Aflame #5 — and we learned about his ability to drive beings to acts of self-destructive aggression in the novel. Here, we learn that there’s a mechanism for it: he must draw on the anguish of large masses to achieve the effect on others. Looking back at the novel, we might figure that in the Battle of Gazzari, Odion drew upon the terror of those fleeing the Arxeum wreckage during his attempt to drive Daiman’s warriors (and Kerra) to throw their lives away. As we saw there, it was more of a resistible suggestion when employed on multiple beings at once; as we see here, Odion can target single individuals, like the Duros.

The idea of the Claimers is, in a sense, a twist on the Norse legend of the Valkyrie — we even gave Wayman his own flying steed, after a fashion. It made sense that Odion would need to reach outside his borders to find Force-talented individuals, given the mortality rate of those in his service. It also made sense that Daiman would be aware of the practice — hence, his ability to direct Kerra to Wayman as a means of injecting her into Odion’s service. The thought of Daiman’s and Kerra’s interests intersecting even for a minute was tantalizing — and, as we’ll see, he has other cards up his regal sleeve.

And with this issue we meet Beld Yulan, introduced in the novel as Brigadier Jarrow Rusher’s former mentor and commanding officer. The stories about him in the novel served as a means of illustrating Rusher’s personality, but clearly, I had more in mind for him at the time. As readers will see, Escape knits the existing Knight Errant library together in some interesting and surprising ways.

“Mom, Dad — you’re allive!.” — Xxxxx

There are three different covers for this issue. The main cover, by Benjamin Carré, features Kerra on the attack; the limited-run cover by Mike Hawthorne shows Kerra after she’s taken care of business. There is also a third cover, showing the black-and-white artwork Hawthorne did, that was created by Diamond Comic Distributors for sale at Comic-Con International: San Diego in 2012. It is limited in number to 2,000 copies, and 300 of them were pre-signed by me. (Fifty in red pen, so those are the rarest of the rare!)

The main cover depicts one of the many monsters Malakite has at his disposal. (Actually, it’s so gruesome they may use it as a disposal, sarlacc-style.) It doesn’t appear among the monsters inside the issue, but that’s because covers are drawn far earlier than interior contents.

With this issue, Knight Errant shifted to the trade dress that other Star Wars comics had gone to for 2012, highlighting Star Wars and making the underline smaller.

As with the previous two comics installments, Escape has six letters and follows the other two in alphabetical order. Purely a coincidence, but it works out…

Tergamenion was one of the Grumani Sector locations described in the Knight Errant Gazetteer addition to the Star Wars Atlas.

Daiman’s armored guards, seen here, were first seen in Aflame #1. Odion has similar ones, as we’ll see; as the novel described, there’s a great deal of intellectual theft — not to mention actual theft — going on out here. And if some things look similar to Republic technologies, that’s because, in part, they are.

Wayman’s name is self-chosen, and descriptive of what he feels his role is; he’s the man who leads the way to Odion’s service.

Daiman’s holographic statues — and his ability to select individual ones to communicate directly through — are first shown in the novel. (And it’s hard not to think of Teri Hatcher and Jerry Seinfeld when Kerra tells Daiman that he’s “deranged!”)

The scene with Kerra and the Novitiates attacking is exactly modeled on the scene in Aflame #1 where she and Vannar’s people attack Chelloa. But her dialogue is exactly what Odion says when he’s attacking, later on in that issue.

We don’t know how much time Novitiates spend in training, but it struck me that there would be a high churn rate in Odion’s forces, and that indoctrination, lightsaber combat, and Force teaching would all take place simultaneously in a breakneck program. (And that is sometimes a literal term.) Summer camp with Yoda, it ain’t!

We first saw Malakite during the Bequest in the novel. As depicted here, starships are his only bow to technology; can’t leave home without them.

Skarpos and Jubalene make their first appearance here.

Beld Yulan is a Tarro, which takes me close to the end of my Ultimate Alien Anthology checklist. Whoops — no, no Ewoks yet…

No mistake that Kerra calls herself Mercy when her mother’s Mercia…

The dissolution of Lord Bactra’s realm, beginning in the novel and shown partially in Deluge, is clearly continuing here. As we see here, Odion has no use at all for many of the commerce workers that didn’t wind up in Daiman’s realm. It’s my first Rancor. Their first, too… and last!

We saw Odion badly burnt in Aflame; clearly, the guy’s put some time into skin grafts. Can’t look bad when you’re heading out to destroy the universe!

The lack of mass media in Odion’s empire was touched on elsewhere earlier, and is key to her being able to move freely in his realm; there’s no Odionate’s Most Wanted on the tube. (No tube, either.) But Kerra’s infiltration into Odion’s very home does owe to what he describes — his debilitating headaches, plus her own skills at concealing her presence through the Force.

Ieldis was first mentioned in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #29, and a couple of times thereafter in that series; his role in creating the Crucible was established there. The novel speaks of both Odion and Arkadia’s fondness for his methods; Odion’s flagship was named for him.

Project Pandemonium shares its name with the new novella in the Lost Tribe of the Sith anthology, releasing six weeks after this issue.

Finally, the last scene. We’ve spoken of Kerra’s family in the novel, and shown the night of Odion’s attack in the comics. But we showed more than a bombed house, and I made sure never to speak of them as dead in captions or prose. As far as I know, I was just as careful in interviews — I tried to always say she “lost her family.” (I may have faltered on that once or twice — but I always had this story in mind.) There’s something else I was careful about describing, but we’ll see that later…!

Latest edition

Star Wars: Legends Epic Collection – The Old Republic Vol. 5

Star Wars: Legends Epic Collection – The Old Republic Vol. 5

As the Sith overtake the galaxy, a group of brave Jedi continue hit-and-run missions - but Jedi Knight Kerra Holt's first mission goes horribly wrong. Now Kerra intends to liberate as many innocents as possible - and find the truth about her missing family in the process!

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