Del Rey and Dark Horse kick off a joint storytelling venture this week with the premiere of a new Star Wars comic, Knight Errant. The initial February SW.com announcement didn’t give any overt clues that this series would be based around a central female Jedi, so I didn’t pay the news any particular attention. It wasn’t until the Comic Con announcement, which provided more information on the series, that I realized it might be something worth checking out in my quest for strong heroine-based stories. At Celebration V, I picked up a copy of Star Wars: Knight Errant: Issue #0. The cover boasts a young female Jedi, Kerra Holt, with a blaster in one hand and lightsaber in the other.
Recently I sat down and gave the preview issue a read. This is the comic world’s version of a trailer, just a snippet of a storyline, a short section setting out the story’s context, then shifting into an action sequence for Kerra and her fellow Jedi. Intrigued, I continued reading the interview with author John Jackson Miller. One part that caught my eye read as follows:
…trying to protect the Republic, Kerra Holt, our protagonist, heads straight toward the trouble far behind enemy lines.
Note the word choice of “protagonist.” Much of the interview follows up on the initial announcement’s themes of exploring the Sith culture and discussing Kerra’s struggles as a young Jedi sent off into the real galaxy of far, far away. Several of the author’s other interviews also have emphasized that Kerra will repeatedly face, and sometimes fail, moral dilemmas as she tries to pursue the Jedi path while isolated alone in enemy territory.
I suppose I should be excited that The Powers That Be have stepped up to the plate in offering equal opportunity for female Force users to struggle with the moral grayness and poor choices of some of the recent male leads. (Although perhaps Kerra may at least avoid an antihero adventure like that of Cade Skywalker.) Part of me was really hoping, though, that a female lead character meant they were designing a story around a genuine, unbridled female heroine. Not to say Kerra Holt won’t be one, eventually, but that certainly isn’t their starting selling point.
I’ve long believed that the Star Wars EU has been attempting to grasp their share of the blossoming patronage of fangirls. My belief certainly aligns with the market analysis expressed by women leaders in the industry at the Shining the Spotlight on Female Fans panel hosted by Her Universe at Comic Con. So I have to wonder if the decision to use a female protagonist is part of a greater master plan to draw in more fangirls to the EU. My prediction, though, is that putting a woman on the cover of Knight Errant won’t make major strides forward in this endeavor, unless the character quickly turns out to be something different – something a lot more positive and affirming – than how she’s already been portrayed in pre-launch announcements.
This is as good a point as any to introduce my Brownie Sundae theory on catering to the female fans, especially in this day and age. Fangirls are jonesing for chocolaty goodness, and it doesn’t seem to me that the creative forces behind Knight Errant are going to satisfy it. Remember, there is a reason why Episode Four was renamed A New Hope. Despite the dramatic tension, the moviegoers all knew Luke was going to defeat the Death Star. Like eating a brownie sundae, emotional satisfaction was a guaranteed outcome. What they’ve set up with the promotional material and interviews, and especially dubbing Kerra Holt as a protagonist, says to me that this series will be an internal struggle that may or may not produce a heroine in the end.
It’s like gal pals sitting at the restaurant after a gossip-filled meal and deciding to have a brownie sundae. The waiter says, “We’ll give you the brownie and probably the ice cream, but it could be frozen yogurt. Oh, and the brownie might be cold, or the cold topping may already be melted by the time the hot fudge is available.”
Which leads someone to ask, “And what about the whip cream and cherry on top?”
The reply only, “No promises.”
There’s a chance their eight dollars and four spoons will result in a plate of hot, cold, chocolaty, fluffy, cherry-topped decadence. But most of my lady friends would pay their check — and instead seek out the closest establishment with reliable, ready-to-serve, honest-to-goodness genuine brownie sundaes.
I’ll keep an eye on Knight Errant, just in case, but it’s not looking like a Brownie Sundae to this fangirl. I’ll let you know when I find one.
Tricia Barr's novel, Wynde, won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook. She was also part of Silence in the Library's successful all-female creator science fiction and fantasy anthology Athena's Daughters, which is available now. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.
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