Knights of Pendragon #7-12
Issue(s): Knights of Pendragon #7, Knights of Pendragon #8, Knights of Pendragon #9, Knights of Pendragon #10, Knights of Pendragon #11, Knights of Pendragon #12
Our first new character is Ben Gallagher, an author that recently wrote a book about the Holy Grail, complete with a promotional contest where you could follow clues in the book to locate a replica of the grail hidden somewhere in real life. The contest had to be scrapped, causing legal problems for the publisher.
The book retains its environmental message. Ben learns about his Pendragon powers while fighting a guy that is encouraging fishermen to slaughter dolphins.
The back cover of that issue has this ad:
This results in a considerable bulk up for him (he's gained "two stone and three inches"). He also gets a new costume, in part because the Union Jack symbol on the old was apparently associated with racist groups in England at this time.
And the third character is Kate McClellan who also isn't new, since she was in the previous arc. But what's new is that in this arc she gains the kind of strength that Dai Thomas had in the last arc.
Mind the coloring mistake in the scan above.
This book is not above a Misunderstanding Fight...
..but it eventually becomes apparent that the point of beefing up Union Jack is so that he can serve as a replacement for Captain Britain.
Another character that sees a change is Francesca Grace Lexley, the evil corporate lady from the previous arc. She is possessed by an entity called the Bane, basically an evil equivalent to the Pendragons.
And also returning is "Dolph", the mercenary from the previous arc. At this point his masculinity has been affronted by the way that Kate humiliated him in the previous arc and the fact that Francesca fired him after that, so he's turned into a crazy psycho killer taking his aggression out on women.
We learn that his real name is Colin Snewing. Dolph is a nickname because of his similarity in look to Dolph Lundgren. It's actually Dolph that Kate is throwing through the car window further up on this page.
He eventually rejoins forces with Francesca.
And also in the story is a teacher working at the school attended by Kate's son Cam. His name is Peter Hunter, and it turns out that he was a World War I era super-hero named Albion.
Here's a view of Albion from back in the day:
He no longer seems to have powers but obviously has gained longevity thanks to them. It turns out that his powers are thanks to the one-time possession by a Pendragon spirit (Herne the Hunter) from a forest near the school. That spirit now possesses Cam...
...but Cam is too young to handle it, and is corrupted by Grace and Bane.
After a very public battle at the Omni corporation building (Grace's company)...
...where there's no proof of anything supernatural going on, Alysande Stuart orders Captain Britain to stay out of it...
We do see Captain Britain again, first reconciling with Dai after their fight in the previous arc, and then rejoining for the final fight.
But he's mostly out of the book, leaving the three Pendragon-infused characters on their own, or rather with only some guidance from Peter Hunter. They wind up tracking Grace to Spain, where Omni Corp is teaming up with Stark Enterprises to build a wind turbine plant.
So we have another Misunderstanding Fight.
The real villain is of course Grace, who is planning to summon Bane, aka the Red Knight, into existence by causing vast environmental damage. However, instead, she winds up summoning the Green Knight, who is responding to the wounded land.
Grace makes lemonade by trying to kill the Green Knight for her master.
So now it's time for the Team-Up.
And our final fight against Grace's minions.
Grace tries to use Cam's powers against Iron Man and Union Jack.
But Peter Hunter is able to reach Cam.
Cam decides he doesn't want the powers, so he gives them to Peter.
Grace's minions are defeated and the Green Knight is protected. Grace herself is susceptible to Iron Man's iron armor.
In the end a headquarters is set up, with some funding from Stark.
Here's an excerpt from a letter in issue #8 that i thought brought an interesting perspective:
Pendragon has the best script of any comic series ever to be published by Marvel UK... That is not to say that the series is without fault. The inking and colouring is absolutely lousy. The artwork generates very little atmosphere in a story which should be heavily atmospheric... There's only one illustrator for Captain Britain and that's Alan Davis. Everybody else screws it up. That's true, and I seriously doubt that Alan's enjoying drawing sexist crap for the dickheads who script Excalibur. So I shouldn't think it would be a big deal to get him to work on Pendragon.
I agree regarding the writing. The dialogue and tone of the book is quite good. Intelligent, realistic dialogue and characterization mixed in with interesting fantasy elements. Other letters compare the series to DC's Sandman, and while that may be a bit much, it's on a whole different level than most of Marvel's books. Regarding the art, i actually think it works pretty well for the story. It's not bombastic super-hero art, but it's not meant to be. The more subdued style fits the book very well. It can be kind of stiff at times, and that is especially noticeable in the scenes where there is some superheroics going on. And storywise the mystical Pendragon stuff can get a little mumbo-jumo-ish. But overall it's a quality book.
Mostly i just think it's funny to see a contemporary reader calling Chris Claremont's writing "sexist crap"; you don't see much of that on the US comics' letter pages.
I should also note that someone writes in to ask how all of this Pendragon stuff relates to the King Arthur story from Doctor Strange #3-4. The editor's response is an honest if not satisfactory, "Don't know, having never seen it...".
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This would have to take place while Iron Man is free (e.g. not during Armor Wars II). Union Jack's power-up here happens before his appearance in Namor #11-12, where he is already powered up and references the Green Knight investing him with the power of the Pendragon. As Michael notes in the comments, since Tony Stark is seen outside of his Iron Man armor, this can't really take place any time after Armor Wars II, since Stark doesn't start using his "portable neuro-net" until Iron Man #269, well after Namor #11-12 takes place. So i've pushed this prior to Iron Man #258.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAlbion, Alysande Stuart, Ben Gallagher, Cam McClellan, Captain Britain, Dai Thomas, Dolph, Francesca Grace Lexley, Green Knight, Iron Man, Justin Meyer, Kate McClellan, Mrs. Arbogast, Randolph Frewin, Rowan Gowell, Union Jack (Joey Chapman)
Well, this is definitely making me want to go back and check these out, I totally avoided this series in real-time. The Sandman comparison does seem a stretch, though I could see "Animal Man" before Morrison got too meta.
I really like the visual of the Green Knight.
Posted by: cullen | September 8, 2015 7:55 PM
Nothing much to say, other than I enjoyed these issues when they came out, and I thought the design for the Green Knight was amazing.
Posted by: Ben Herman | September 8, 2015 9:21 PM
I think that the scene that we discussed in the comments of Knights Of Pendragon 1-6 that Alan Davis insisted on inserting was in issue 11- isn't there some scene where it's explained that Brian only killed Dai because he was under the influence of Lancelot?
Posted by: Michael | September 8, 2015 10:13 PM
Michael, yes that scene with Captain Britain and Dai is in #11. Captain Britain apologizes for losing control while fighting Dai, and Dai tells him that it wasn't him; they were both possessed by the Pendgragon. And Captain Britain was Lancelot who in battle becomes a "berserker fury, given to mighty rages".
Regarding Stark's placement, as long as it *can* fit here i'll leave it here since i'd rather place the entry at publication date, but i'll take a look when i get to Iron Man #269.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 9, 2015 7:19 AM
Is it stated in the story the the Union Jack flag (the flag of Unified Great Britain) was associated with racist groups? I've always thought the St George's cross (The flag of England) was the one commonly associated with nationalist/racist groups.
Posted by: kveto | September 9, 2015 3:36 PM
The Union Jack was a favorite symbol of the National Front (UK version, not the French) in the '80s, and it was basically a violent racist gang. The singer Morrissey got accused of racism around this tume, '91 or '92, when he appeared on stage draped in a Union Jack at one concert. A few years later, though, pop groups' appropriation of the Union Jacks and other British symbols would shift their symbolic identification away from racism.
For Chapman to go around in his Union Jack outfit in the '80s would be almost like running about in a Confederate flag costume in the U.S. It's as culturally tone deaf as when Mark Gruenwald gives us a heroic German character named "Blitzkrieg."
Posted by: Walter Lawson | September 10, 2015 1:53 AM
Walter, the difference is that the Union Jack was really no writer's fault.The Union Jack in the 40s wore the costume long before the National Front existed. Then in Captain America 254, Joey put on the Union Jack costume to trick Baron Blood, so it made no sense to modify it, and the story ended seconds after the original Union Jack died and Joey decided to stay Union Jack to honor him. Then, Union Jack was limited to cameo appearances and an 8-page Marvel Comics Presents story for the next decade, so changing his costume in one of those would have been weird. This is really the first time Joey's been a recurring character.
Posted by: Michael | September 10, 2015 8:13 PM
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