Sienna McKnight was born in the harsh desert of Central Asia. She was, says author R.K. Syrus, “An orphan girl born in blood with the birthright of pain and scars.” Nothing in life would be easy for her.
Now a full bird Colonel in the U.S. Army, McKnight’s personal mission was to return to the wasteland of Khorasan and punish her mother’s murderer and find out what happened to her father. The circumstances surrounding her birth and the ensuing years spent on a military base in North Carolina were improbable. But what came before seemed inescapable. No one could stop Col. McKnight from returning to the badlands of Asia. She was looking for a slice of justice with a big scoop of no mercy.
Along for the ride were a scruffy battle-tested ops team known as the Dogs. These howling commandos were basically grown-up versions of the kids in high school who dressed in black and barked at the moon. Now as sanctioned military personnel, they carried licenses to kill.
The Dogs were a tough bunch all right, but just in case they needed a little backup, McKnight “borrowed” a piece of top-secret Army tech known as RAPTEK. The self-contained weapons system was infused with a mysterious alien power source, and McKnight knew it would transform her into a Kirby-esque O.W.A.C.
What she didn’t know, however, was that the “Railgun: Ansible Powered Test Kit” could trigger ancient powers hidden deep inside of her. Combined with the alien technology, McKnight’s inner wraith roiled with a surge of unprecedented havoc.
The story of Sienna McKnight’s existential journey first appeared in a comic book back in 2012. For one reason or another, creator Syrus decided to cancel the comic and continue the story in prose format. After reading this novel (the first in a planned 10-volume series), we think he made the right choice.
Syrus ably captures McKnight’s situation by mixing military science fiction and superhero prose fiction – a genre mash-up that we haven’t seen very often. He’s pretty good at military techno-babble, and he’s especially good with fight sequences. For example, his hero escapes from a Khorasan cellblock by overcoming her captives in a highly unusual way, and she later destroys the surrounding village (along with a surface-to-air missile launcher) by throwing stones (!) and creating shockwaves.
And lastly, for those of you who continually dismiss superhero prose fiction as inferior to comic books, we ask: What’s more visual than your imagination? Why let an illustrator define your optics? In our opinion, very few comic book creators could have captured McKnight’s surreal pre-birth experience in Chapter 22 any better than Syrus did here. There’s no reason a New Praetorians adventure can’t be as explosive and colorful in prose format than any other format.
[Sienna McKnight: New Praetorians 1 / By R.K. Syrus / First Printing: July 2017 / ISBN: 9781910890066]