This is a semi-regular feature I'll be presenting here, showcasing pitches and stories I've come up with that, for whatever reason, can't be used. It's both utterly self-indulgent and a transparent ploy to get out of writing a blog entry for the day. Enjoy.
Around last July or so, I got to thinking about Marvel's Black Knight after a minor digression about him over on the CBR Avengers board. As a fan of high fantasy, weird sci-fi, and the whole heroic archetype thingy, I felt there was some mineable potential in the character. So, after doing some brief research, I decided, for the heck of it, to try and work out a pitch and a few issues for him. I got all the way through the script for issue one when I found out that the female Captain Britain, a cornerstone of my plot, was going to be used in Chris Claremont's New Excalibur. He even gave her a new name, albeit not the one I came up with. So I put it on the backburner while I started prep for my novel.
I still have the pitch and that script; here now is the pitch.
Standard disclaimer: Marvel owns the characters, I came up with the story idea, please don't steal it, as it's not nice.
The Black Knight – An Ongoing Series From Marvel Comics
Scene: Dane Whitman, the Black Knight, has just been run through by his friend, partner, and potential lover, Kelsey Leigh. He looks at her, sees the hot tears running down her face, and closes his eyes. He coughs up a bit of blood, falls to his knees, but is only dimly aware of his death throes. In his head, Viviene, the Lady of the Lake, is calling him home. With neither a smile nor a frown, but a puzzling look of absolute peace, the Black Knight dies.
This is the story of how these two people come to this point, and what they do after.
This is the story of a man who sets out to prove that chivalry isn’t dead, and succeeds, but ends up with a sword through his chest.
This is also the story of a woman who’s lost everything that gave her life meaning, who’s offered a chance to find something to replace it, and almost succeeds before bollocksing it up completely.
And it’s the story of the two ancient, irredeemably evil fucks who set all this in motion. They’ll get theirs in the end, but not before putting our heroes through a universe of pain.
Dane Whitman/The Black Knight: The Champion of Avalon hasn’t done much championing lately. Since the disbanding of the Avengers, he’s been teaching physics at the University of London’s Imperial College, working on his Ph.D. That’s not going so well, since he hasn’t yet submitted a research project. The head of the department is not pleased with this. He still believes in the chivalric ideal, but isn’t sure if that means anything anymore. He needs a smack on the head, and he gets one from Viviane, in the form of a question: “What ails thee, knight?” Finding the answer, and what to do about it, will lead him on his quest to save chivalry for the new millennium.
Kelsey Leigh/Britannia: Angry. Very angry. She lost her children and her life when she became Captain Britain, and now, with the disbanding of the Avengers and the return of Brian Braddock, she’s lost that too. Stephen Strange magicked up a new Kelsey Leigh identity for her, one that never had children, and she lives in London’s East End, working at a bookshop. In her spare time, she either cyberstalks her kids at the local library, or goes out in her new identity of Britannia, looking for something to hit. She’s walking the tightrope between Batman and the Punisher, and about to fall off. Which is where Dane comes in. Taking her under his wing, he gives her a perspective that might lead her out of the doldrums of rage surrounding her, and she gives him a focus for his mission, a student to refine his ideals upon. It’s a good match for both of them, but neither of them suspects that they’re playing right into the hands of… that’s for an entry further down.
Brian Earl: Dane’s graduate assistant. A brilliant physics student, Brian is notorious for having the most stuffed shirt on campus. He somewhat idolizes Dane, which baffles the professor somewhat, but he’s flattered and appreciative of Brian’s work, so he lets it slide. Brian doesn’t make much time for friends, and when he does, he’s a butterfly, moving from one group to the next, going with whatever as long as the risk is minimal. A scholarship student from Ireland, he’s very protective of his past, with good reason: he’s ex-IRA, and did time in Long Kesh prison. In spite of that, he’s pulled himself up by his bootstraps to become an excellent student (he’s on full scholarship), but he wants to keep it firmly behind him. He’ll find out that that’s a lot harder than it seems, especially when some old friend turn up on campus looking for trouble.
Morgan Le Fay & Mordred: The most wonderful part of the plan was that they never questioned it. Not that there weren’t questions; there were plenty. Like: Why did Roma and Merlin need a new Captain Britain, when Brian Braddock was still alive? Why did Kelsey receive her powers even though she chose the sword, the “wrong” talisman? What was the purpose of forbidding her to reveal herself to her children? Why was Britain not threatened when she almost immediately relocated to America? If anyone had asked, the answer would have been obvious: She wasn’t Captain Britain at all. The whole thing was a ruse, a clever blind to create an agent and place her in the Avengers, where, eventually, she would come into contact with the Black Knight. A little prodding from Mordred, and “Captain Britain” would slay the Knight, freeing Morgan from her imprisonment, and giving her final revenge over her foster mother, teacher, and hated enemy, the Lady of the Lake. The disassembling of the Avengers changed only the timetable; now, with the plan once again set in motion, it’s only a matter of time.
Viviane: A mystery.
Other characters: Reginald Ackerman, head of the physics department at Imperial College; Jackie, a punk rock girl who works with Kelsey and fancies Brian; the Wolfhounds, a gang of thugs whose members include former IRA pals of Brian’s; Snow White and Rose Red, twin sisters, wannabe crime lords, and the original bosses of the Wolfhounds.
The First Year:
Issue 1: We are introduced to Dane’s situation. He busts up a robbery by the Wolfhounds, but they get away. At this point, Viviane contacts him and sets him on his quest. On his return, he tracks the Hounds to their lair and battles Snow White and Rose Red, who inadvertently start him down his path.
Issue 2: Enter Kelsey. She gets evicted from her apartment, goes out looking for something to hit, runs into a fight between Dane and Dragon Man. She favors slashing first and asking questions later, but Dane’s more compassionate and scientific approach saves the day, and she’s left with a lot to consider. At the end, she rents a new apartment in Dane’s building (his as in, he owns it). At this point, neither knows the other’s identity.
Issue 3: Dane takes Kelsey to campus. The Wolfhounds, backed by a freelancing Whirlwind and Volcana, raid the physics lab, aiming to steal a device that draws energy from the Microverse. Black Knight and Britannia discover one another’s identities, team up, and fight them off. Brian helps, and recognizes one of the Wolfhounds. At the end of the fight, the machine is damaged, and the resultant malfunction sends Black Knight, Britannia, and Brian hurtling into the Microverse.
Issues 4-6: In the Microverse, Dane, Britannia, and Brian find themselves on a world ruled by a mockery of chivalry. The liege lords use the peasants as slaves, not caring for their well-being at all. Indeed, at the tournaments held by the nobility, fights are “to the death,” with a peasant taking the place of the defeated knight on the chopping block. Unable to access his mystical equipment for some reason, Dane is taken as Britannia’s squire. The three of them become embroiled in the politics of the world, which revolve around seemingly impenetrable personal force fields that protect the nobility from the peasants at all times. Dane does much philosophizing on the nature of chivalry and honor. I get to use my research material. Kelsey and Dane each find their own ways around the system (with some soul-searching on the part of the former; this is where she accepts Dane’s teachings), the force-fields are made less of a problem, and Brian brings them all home.
Issues 7-12: More encounters with the Wolfhounds, a guest appearance from Captain Britain and New Excalibur, the return of Snow White and Rose Red, the death of Bloodwraith, and an assault from Mordred where Kelsey learns part, but not all, of the truth behind her origins.