The flexible medium of comics allows creators to tell evermore complex stories, whether straight from our heads or drawn from preestablished source material such as historical and mythological lore. Now, it’s no secret that we at Wild River Comics are big fans of old-time myths and legends, and in the spirit of Daughters Of Albion, we want to share a few of our favourite comics that draw from Arthurian Legends.
Kicking things off with a classic depiction of King Arthur, Excalibur: The Legend Of King Arthur, published by Candlewick Press, chronicles different facets of the Arthurian timeline from a predominantly classical standpoint. Written by Tony Lee and illustrated by Stan Hart, Excalibur: The Legend Of King Arthur details the young King’s humble beginnings before unexpectedly setting a course for his destiny when he frees the fabled Sword In The Stone, leading him to greater and evermore daunting challenges. This graphic novel would be a great place to start for comic lovers less familiar with Arthurian legends!
From the mind of Cullen Bunn and Mirko Colak, Unholy Grail is a bit of a departure from the typical glimmering vision of the benign King Arthur we’ve come to know. It’s pure nightmare fuel. Centring around King Arthur’s rise and subsequent reign, this five-issue horror series, published by Aftershock Comics, details the darker side of this legendary King and his right-hand wizard, Merlin. A beautifully twisted take on the shining British legends, Unholy Grail is sure to raise a brow. And what’s even scarier is that some of the alternate, blood-soaked theories we see in this comic aren’t entirely unreasonable. History is, after all, written by the victors.
Seeing King Arthur in an ancient setting is something to be expected. However, BOOM! Studios shook it up a little with their publication of Once & Future, written by Kieron Gillen and illustrated by Dan Mora. While King Arthur would fit right in during his allocated era, things might be a little different if one was to pull him into the present. And it’s this very concept that Once & Future explores. When a modern incarnation of the Knights Templar seek to resurrect the deceased King using the dormant power of an ancient artefact, they wait in wonder, ready to be rewarded with honorary knighthoods. However, it’s soon discovered that values as old as Arthur’s don’t all fit alongside modern moral codes. A beautifully drawn blend of mythological fantasy, carried by a surprisingly witty script, Once & Future faithfully draws from Arthurian legends, making us question the legendary figure we all revere.
Okay, we’ve had Arthur in the past and Arthur in the present, but what about King Arthur in the future?! Ironically, DC’s 12-issue series, Camelot 3000, is the oldest entry on our list and explores a future incarnation of King Arthur and his Knights Of The Round Table. Written by Mike W. Barr and boasting a plethora of interesting artists, this sci-fi adaptation of the classic Arthurian tales takes place way off in the year 3000. Based in a futuristic society, a young boy discovers the old Arthurian tombs, only to find that the legendary court has been resurrected, all leading to a savage alien invasion at the hands of Morgan le Fay. Throwing several Arthurian figures, including the likes of Merlin, Lancelot, Guinevere and Sir Gallahad, into a brand new setting, Camelot 3000 is a distinctive Bronze Age gem!
To add to the futuristic list of Arthur’s, we also have our very own Daughters Of Albion. While the King himself doesn’t make an appearance in this one, you’ll find a generous amount of Arthurian bread crumbs along the way. Set in a futuristic vision of London, this sci-fi urban fantasy tells the story of an unlikely pair; a man of the law and a lovable rogue. And when two corpses appear on the banks of the Thames, strange ties start emerging between the technology-dominated London of tomorrow and the ancient Arthurian legends of old. With the first issue now available, this varied comic marks the start of one hell of a wild ride!
Have you read any of these? What’s your favourite myth-based comic? Let us know your top picks in the comment section below!