Wilfrid is on a dangerous quest for revenge.
Knights-Errant‘s story begins with Wil imprisoned in a city besieged by the fanatical Margrave Olbrecht. Wil manages to escape with the help of a disillusioned guard named Beppe. Rather than an act of kindness, however, Wil’s release is all part of Beppe’s own plans for revenge.
With so many schemes at play it quickly becomes obvious that things aren’t always as they seem in this LGBT graphic novel.
The characters are gratifyingly complex in Jennifer Doyle’s intriguing comic thriller. They each have a unique motivation and act according to their own (usually) secret agendas. Doyle’s historically-inspired world is full of nuanced politics, religious beliefs and ideas of gender.
Doyle first began work on Knights-Errant as a sophomore in college, but has since rebooted the series, now available through Sparkler in digital and print.
Tensions are running high as the city slowly starves to death under the Margrave’s siege. The King has sent an army to remove Olbrecht from power, but their attempts to infiltrate the city have, so far, remained unsuccessful. A guard named Beppe, with no love lost for the Margrave, decides to help the soldiers out. He frees Wilfrid to guide the army back through the hidden catacombs under the city.
Being forced to carry out Beppe’s errand annoys Wilfrid, but after they are once again captured they deliver the information to the waiting soldiers. This brings Wil into contact with Lieutenant Oswald, a man with deep secrets of his own.
Although they both wish to bring down the Margrave, their methods and motives are drastically different. Basically, just because they share a common enemy doesn’t mean they are on the same side or desire the same outcome.
In addition to politics, the story draws parallels with religious and racial discrimination. The Margrave is a follower of Ibra. Beppe and his partner, Anton are converts from Asharda.
Wilfrid and Kadeen’s brown skin marks them as a “Clay.” In the eyes of a racist majority this automatically brands them as members of the scorned Jehedda religion. Clays face suspicion and discrimination from their fair skinned counterparts.
For as heavy as the implications of this world get at times, there is enough dark humor and depth to keep readers along for the ride.
Supposed villains have hints of redeeming qualities while the good guys’ intentions aren’t entirely pure. This duality makes every reveal of the characters past (and current) situations that much more satisfying in later chapters.
This new version (formerly Knights-Errant: Pavane) hits some of the same story beats as the original comic, but with a stronger art style and amended timeline of events. The original drafts are no longer available per the author/artist’s request.
“There are things from the old draft I’m fond of, and it’s charming to see an artist’s growth, but mostly I’m embarrassed looking at it,” Doyle explained in a Tumblr FAQ.
I was a bit disappointed to discover I’d completely missed out on the character development and spoilers present in these early drafts. Fortunately, the revised comic proves to be a rewarding experience in its own right.
Doyle’s art is expressive and dynamic as the characters move between panels. With just a glance, Wilfrid’s cheerful facade disappears laying bare the homicidal tendencies lurking beneath the surface.
Even with over 200 pages available through Sparkler and with the Margrave currently in custody, it feels like the comic has barely scratched the surface of what’s to come.
If you haven’t already, now is definitely a good time to join the Knights-Errant journey.
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