Saturday, September 10, 2005

Green Lantern Fun: Night of the Emerald Table

I have both King Arthur and Comic Books listed under my interests. I can attract bored fans of one of the other through my user profile. Upon realizing that some individuals will be fans of both, I said to myself: why not cater to this special random viewer with a beautiful fusion of the two interests?

DC Comics heroes and Arthurian Knights both have archetypical personalities that evolve as they are passed from writer to writer. Sometimes they fall in line with each other surprisingly well. It's a pleasant diversion this early in the morning when everyone else is sleeping.
Today we'll be playing with Green Lanterns, as I already made some initial parallels in a reply on the DCMB Green Lantern board. This mythos is a special challenge, because the characters all have the exact same power, and you actually have to differentiate between personalities to make parallels. Those of you unfamiliar with either set of characters may play with the links provided, or just muddle through and hope I don't make too many inside jokes.

And now, because I demanded it -- and you're obviously bored enough to be reading it:

The Knights of the Emerald Table!

King Arthur -- Alan Scott
Alan Scott, despite the ridiculous color scheme of his costume, is a character that oozes nobility and regality. In the DCU, he's the Alpha Hero of the JSA (in the retconned absence of any Golden Age Superman), representing all the ideals about the Golden Age. Kind of like King Arthur represents a Golden Age of Chivalry? I'm seen writers use both characters as a way to convey morality -- For example, Ron Marz's Alan Scott and TH White's King Arthur both had a very progressive view of the world compared to their respective generations.
Arthur and Alan have similar character evolution. Both begin as a typical warrior-hero with mystical help, both grew in power and prestige until they became so powerful and idealized that they had to be pushed to the background for most stories, and used as an example of how to properly behave -- to the point where, if it's unreasonable if they don't act, they are either quickly neutralized at the beginning of the story (King Arthur in the Sir Gawain story The Loathly Lady, Alan Scott in JSA storyline Injustice Be Done), or not there to begin with.

Sir Lancelot the Household Name -- Hal Jordan the Fan Favorite
Big Man at Court
Lancelot is the most famous of any knight, and I'm sorry, Kyle-fans, but Hal's the best-known name in the Mythos. He's widely considered The Green Lantern, the "Greatest of Them All" -- not just by fans, but in-story they describe him this way. He was company hot-shot in the old Corps and the old JLA. Lancelot is widely considered The Knight of the Round Table, company hotshot -- not just by readers watching his exploits, but in-story they constantly describe him this way. Interestingly enough, while both characters are considered by word of mouth to be basically Saints, both are plagued by excessive anger and guilt that cause them to fall short of their reputation at times.
Sir Lancelot's primary characteristics: Fearless, Passionate, Temper leads to physical violence, Tendancy to kill friends in berserker rage, Penitent
Hal Jordan's primary characteristics: Fearless, Passionate, Temper leads to physical violence, Tendancy to kill friends in corrupted state, Penitent
This was the easiest parallel.
Interesting Note: Lancelot's portrayal in Monty Python and the Holy Grail was pretty much the same as Sir Thomas Mallory's portrayal of the character in Le Morte D'Arthur.

Sir Gawain the Perfect Knight -- Kyle Rayner the Perfect Boyfriend (If you can cover the high insurance rates!)
Kyle's primary characteristic is that he's an artist. He thinks differently from the other Green Lanterns. Hal, Guy, and John are Alpha-male personalities, with a tendancy to be competitive. They had to learn cooperation, learn to follow orders because their personal pride told them they should be giving them. Kyle's pride isn't in his leadership ability. His pride is in his creations. Kyle, as shown most recently in Rebirth, has no problem with letting a more experienced person take the lead in a situation. He's a naturally cooperative person, rather than competitive -- this is probably why he, unlike John or Guy, got along so easily with Hal when they first met (in Emerald Knights, when Hal was himself).
He matches the Gawain we see in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Loathly Lady, and Chretien De Troyes' tales (Please ignore the character portrayed in Tristan's adventures, Pyle's adaptations, White's Once and Future King, and Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur, as he was under the corruptive influence of some big yellow bug monster, and therefore not responsible for his actions), A courteous respectful young peacemaker who holds his own in highly competitive society.
Both characters also have character defining stories that are set up to show them resisting a specific temptation a better known colleague succumbed to, and thus surpassing them -- but still not getting credit for it. In Green Knight, we see Gawain (different from Kyle in that he has a romance track record like Hal's) get propositioned 3 times by married woman he is obviously attracted to, and turn her down because he is a guest in her husband's household, contrasting Lancelot's affair with Guinevere under Arthur's roof. In Power of Ion, Kyle becomes omnipotent, but does not go crazy and try to remake the universe and bring his dead girlfriend back to life, contrasting Hal's actions as Parallax (which were not retconned out by that time -- we all know the intent of this story!)

Sir Kay the Seneschal
-- Guy Gardner the Pig
If you'll look at any King Arthur stories from Chretien De Troyes onward, Sir Kay is extremely rude to everybody. I'm sure we've all seen Guy Gardner's defining trait. Interestingly enough, this is another character evolution parallel. Guy started out as a respectable person, just as Cei was respectable in the oldest Celtic tellings. As time went on, both characters were tapped by writers so they could demonstrate "The Wrong Way to Behave." Guy was never fully villified like Kay was in the Pereslvaus (A fun story, I'll admit, if you're in the mood for a lot of senseless gore and unintentionally humorous Christian propaganda!), but their usual function is the same. Chretean De Troyes and Keith Giffen both wanted to make the other heroes look good by comparison.
On the up side, what they lack in manners they make up for in strength of character: both are unflinchingly honest, trustworthy, and loyal.

Sir Tristan the Complete Jerk -- Abin Sur the Desceased
Because the best stories about both are their last -- Abin Sur because his death gives us Hal, and Tristan because he dies.

Sir Bedwyr Bedrydant (Bedivere of the Perfect Sinews sounds a lot better in Welsh) -- John Stewart of the Inconsistant Portrayal
John's been shafted on the personality end, no two ways about it. He's usually presented as another Octave of Hal Jordan, either less disciplined or more disciplined, depending on the writer. Your generic Green Lantern template.
Bedivere suffers the same problem. Your generic Knight template. I haven't seen any two writers portray either character consistantly.
I must say though, Background John makes me think of Background Bedivere more than any other Knight. Ever-present, never substantial or unique. Hopefully, as Geoff Johns gets more into Green Lantern, we'll see John with a definitive personality.

Sir Agravain the Overly Vain -- Sinestro the Especially Arrogant
Agravain, not Mordred, was Lancelot's Arch-Nemesis.
Nobody, but nobody, hated Lancelot more than Agravain. Agravain was selfish and jealous and glory-seeking at worst. At best, he was a staunch moralist seeking to re-establish the King's authority. He was a subtle enemy, though, spreading rumors about Lancelot's affair with the Queen and poisoning the court against the couple. In some adaptations, it got to the point that only Gawain the Sociable could talk the King out of killing Lancelot and the Queen. The feud was still so obvious, so bad that when Lancelot killed him, Agravain's own brother Gawain thought it was justified.
This hatred stemmed from two things: 1) He found the affair with the Queen insulting to his family (The King was his uncle), and 2) He thought Lancelot got attention that his older brother Gawain more rightly deserved.
Sinestro, with his subtle schemes, psychotic orderliness and unfortunate fixation on his former student, makes a good Agravain to Hal's Lancelot.

Sir Palemedes the Stranger -- Kilowog the Even Stranger
Both hold the unenviable position of "Alien Character." Palemedes is a Saracen from wherever Saracens came from. Both characters look distinctive from the rest of the Court (Palamides is the only black man at the Round Table, I beleive). Both are from foreign cultues, surrounded (At least, during the JLI era, when I got to know Kilowog) by people who think they are "just plain weird." Both are also highly intelligent, highly virtuous characters, despite being otherwise so different from their fellows. I do prefer the non-Propaganda Palemedes found in Gerald Morris' The Ballad of Sir Dinadin to the "I would like to be worthy of converting to Christianity" guy we see in Tristan stories. But most Tristan stories are in desperate need of a retcon anyway.

Sir Gareth Beaumains -- Arisia the Underaged
Gareth: Young knight infatuated with Lancelot (Hero worship to the point I question his sexuality)
Arisia: Young Green Lantern infatuated with Hal Jordan (No question about sexuality here)
The major difference here, apart from gender, is that while Gareth was killed by a berserker Lancelot, Arisia was spared Hal's rampage and killed later by Major Force.

Queen Guinevere -- Jennie Lynn Hayden-Scott (Jade)
This parallel is basically because of her relationship with Kyle. She played damsel in distress at at least one point in Marz's run, and in Marz's second run she was the unfaithful fiance`. Not very flattering, but as I've seen, neither lady has had a very flattering portrayal in a long time.

Sir Morded the Destroyer -- Todd Scott (Obsidian)
Not a Green Lantern, but still connected. I had to include Todd in this because his story so beautifully parallels Sir Thomas Malory's Morded. He begins as a good-natured idealistic hero (No joking, check out early Mordred appearances in Le Morte D'Arthur, from an unfortunate foster family -- Orkney was no paradise by most accounts, and the Rice family should have been under fire from Social Services. At some point, he meets a person who shatters these ideals -- Mordred met a hermit who prophesized that he'd killed his father, and then revealed that his father was actually his uncle! Todd met Ian Karkull. Then, he becomes a villain, and fights his father -- the man he blames for all of his difficulties.

Sir Dagonet, Court Jester -- G'Nort Esplanade G'Neesmacher
Enough said.


  1. Heh. Nice! Before I read this, I allowed Johns' interpretation of Hal as King Arthur. Following it with Guy as Kay, John as Lancelot (John GOT the women that Hal wanted first: Katma and Rose, as well as being more well known from television, and was first to get godlike power in Mosaic), with Kyle metamophing from Percival (pure fool who fails due to insecurity) to Galahad (the perfect youth who succeeds), and Alan Scott set more in the position of Igraine's husband (Still a king, but left behind by the modern knights and a cuckold--the demon of the Starheart claimed that it fathered Jade and Obsidian *through* Alan).

    I like your version, though. There's something dirty-sounding about some of those nicknames, however. 'Strong sinews'? 'Good hands'? ::snicker::

    Kris (Badficwriter)

  2. This would make the world's best "Elseworlds" story, for DC, with the Lanterns filling in for the appropriate Arthurian Knights.

  3. Okay, you win. I think I'm in love.