Paladin!

This is here and not on Superversive SF for the simple reason that nothing is official yet. HOWEVER, unofficially – and off the official record – it seems more and more likely that Paladin will become its own comic. He is a small part of a much larger project that I don’t intend to discuss just yet, but looks very likely to be happening sometime in the relatively near future – so stay tuned!

lancelotaswarrior

How I imagine his outfit to look

Paladin is the immortal Sir Lancelot, cursed with immortality as penance for his role in the fall of Camelot. Roger Zelazny used a similar idea in his short story “The Last Defender of Camelot”, but I actually had never read it when I came up with Paladin; the idea came from (where else) the John C. Wright novel “The Last Guardian of Everness”, where Lancelot appears as a minor character. He fights the supernatural creatures trying to take over and enslave our world. His main nemesis is Morgan le Fey, but soon added will be a new character, a vampire known as Blood Money with the ability to control people’s minds.

Paladin is based out of Camden, NJ, the murder capital of America (or a fictionalized version of it depending on where I decide to go with the story). He is there for two reasons: First, a Hellhole has opened up in Camden, drawn by the evil nature of the city, and Paladin intends to make sure the supernatural creatures drawn forth don’t escape into the wider world. Second, a young woman from Camden named Celia Merrick appears to be on the radar of Morgan le Fey, and Paladin needs to know why, and protect her if he can.

The story from there becomes a rather gritty urban fantasy involving as many supernatural creatures I can stuff in there, as well as some touches of Arthuriana. It is modeled after one of my most admired writers, Frank Miller- not in story, but in style. It’s all placed in a dark and relatively realistic backdrop but populated by the supernatural, and the story is designed to be serious and dramatic without descending into late Miller insanity or Alan Moore style nihilism. It’s as down to earth as a comic with witches and werewolves can be.

Paladin shares DNA with Daredevil and Captain America, interestingly enough, but he’s ultimately his own man. His loyalty to King Arthur and rather outdated ideas about virtue and chivalry make him an excellent foil to the gritty, inner city environment I’m placing him in.

I say he shares DNA with Cap because of how old-fashioned he is, but in truth Cap is a callow youth compared to him. I imagine he’d sympathize with Tony in Civil War, but on the other hand, the U.N. is something of a corruption of the sort of unity Arthur sought to bring to Europe. It’s possible he would be team Cap because of his distaste – to put it mildly – of the U.N. It could go either way.

One important point about Paladin is that he WILL kill you – but not if you ask him for mercy. In this sense he is very different from the modern superhero, who tends to have trouble distinguishing between killing and murdering, or who lacks the self-control to put the theory behind the distinction into practice. This is a concept taken from the forgotten ideals of chivalry, and the loss of it is one of the reasons moderns are so confused about the morality of murder.

John C. Wright has given me some excellent advice to work with – some of the more over the top and supernatural elements can be traced indirectly to his influence.

Anyway, I’m in the plotting stage right now. Paladin is great fun to work with. And before you ask, I’m working on Paladin instead of “The Knights of Avalon” for the very simple reason that it looks as if Paladin is going to see the light of day much, much sooner; prioritizing is the name of the game.

Keep an eye out for more news to come. Deus vult!

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7 Responses to Paladin!

  1. Crude says:

    One important point about Paladin is that he WILL kill you – but not if you ask him for mercy.

    Interesting aspect which leads to obvious exploitation, and I imagine dealing with that will be one point of interest.

    • Yes. There’s a lot to play around with regarding Paladin’s morals. They’re very different from other superheroes. He’s no antihero, but he’s also more violent, more dangerous, and more principled than most other superheroes.

  2. GoldenEye says:

    I’ll be happy to see it. It’ll be a breath of fresh air if it’s done well.

  3. Craig N. says:

    Three comments on paladins in pop culure:

    1. As far as I know, the idea of paladins as holy knights, often with special holy powers, comes directly from D&D. I believe it was loosely based on Poul Anderson’s _3 Hearts & 3 Lions_, in which the hero is Ogier the Dane (I forget if he’s reborn, immortal, or been in fairyland all this time).

    2. Ogier is one of the original paladins, the Twelve Peers of Charlemagne who became the iconic knights of the “Matter of France” as chivalric knighthood became a thing. Your Lancelot would almost certainly have signed up with Charlemagne (though I suppose it might have been kept quiet, depending on how the fight against evil magic was going in those days). That might have been when he first started calling himself Paladin, either at the actual Court of Charlemagne or when people started writing chivalric fanfic about them a few hundred years later.

    3. The other Paladin from 20th-century pop culture, now nearly forgotten, was the gunslinger hero of the TV Western “Have Gun, Will Travel” : is it too much of a reach to say your Paladin was a Western gunslinger, and maybe even inspired the show?

    • I did not know it was from D and D, but I don’t mind the connection.

      Your Lancelot would almost certainly have signed up with Charlemagne (though I suppose it might have been kept quiet, depending on how the fight against evil magic was going in those days).

      You’re on the right track here! In fact, Lancelot carries the sword Joyeaux, the sword of Charlemagne. This detail is taken from “The Once and Future King”, where it’s mentioned in passing. That Lancelot was a descendant of Charlemagne; perhaps my version will have gotten the sword in a different way.

      Joyeaux is going to pay an important role in the stories.

      • Craig N. says:

        If there ever was a real King Arthur (which is possible but historically uncertain), he predated Charlemagne significantly — he would have been in the early 500s, and Charlemagne is late 700s (famously crowned emperor in 800 AD). So Lancelot’s sword may have become Charlemagne’s sword later on, but it wouldn’t have been identified that way at Camelot.

        Following that pattern, I suppose the immortal Lancelot might have been the first paladin, with Charlemagne’s peers (or the later writers) borrowing the term from him.

      • Meh. That’s what might have been true historically, but since the LAncelot-Grail cycle and Mallory he was inserted into the late middle ages. The tradition is strong enough that I don’t think it’ll be a problem. When writers like T.H. White have no problem sticking him in later than the Mabinogion then it’s good enough for me.

        …Or I might go your way, that’s a good idea too.

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