When it comes to super nomenclature, Captains are passé, and Doctors are played out. Fortunately, there are centuries of nobles, royals, imperials, and Real World alumni to choose from. Welcome to Ten Things: Ten Nobles and Kings!
Whooshman-Bicarbonate Films, in conjunction with An Amateur Comics Historian and Super Queen Victoria, Presents:
TEN THINGS: TEN NOBLES AND KINGS!
Look upon Adrian Veidt’s works, ye mighty, but he’s pretty much already gotten the despair part covered. One of the first hints that Watchmen wasn’t a traditional superhero tale was the fact that Adrian Veidt took his name from Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses the Great. Though known for his extensive building projects, successful military campaigns, and a reign that lasted decades, the ruler known in the West as Ozymandias has become shorthand for failure and the transience of human intention.
It serves not only to clue us in on his character, but as a foreshadowing of the success of his machinations.
The original premise of The Eternals was that the protagonists were the inspiration for the heroes of myth and legend, a story point that went out the window when the series was streamlined into the Marvel Universe. Of course, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has no such problems (so far), allowing Earth-199999’s Gilgamesh to have been the inspiration for the Mesopotamian hero of myth and king of Uruk. After seven thousand years on Earth, the warrior-king became a caregiver, taking care of his fellow immortal, Thena as she suffered from Eternal madness. After hundreds of years of keeping her safe off the grid, Gilgamesh returned to public life just in time to be killed by The Deviants.
One of the most important characters of the short-lived Defiant Comics, Charles Smith is the designated Champion of Life, tasked with defeating the War Dancer who will end reality as we know it. His massive superhuman strength and durability were a side effect of that, while his nom de guerre comes from Frankish king Carolus Magnus. As the first Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne AKA Charles was known as The Father of Europe which should probably tell you all you need to know about Carolus Magnus.
A member of the Blackhawk Squadron post-Flashpoint, Laszlo (last name unrevealed) was badly injured in the team’s first recorded mission. There was some buildup to his backstory, involving an old grudge with Deathstroke and his mysterious past, but Blackhawks was part of the first wave of cancellations in the New 52. A Hungarian by birth Attila’s nom de guerre is kind of problematic, coming as it does from the fifth-century king of the Hunnic Empire commonly known as Attila the Hun. Then again, his comrades included an Irishman called The Irishman and a Canadian called Canada, so maybe the new Blackhawks were just not very creative in their call signs?
6) GOG AND MAGOG
Twin brother gods in the world of The Elementals, Gog and Magog were among the supernaturals assembled to defend Earth against the Oblivion Empire, forming the basis of the first Super Nation. During the battle with alien forces, one brother fell (but honestly, I’ve never been 100% clear which is which, and thanks to changes in creators, the story never got finished anyway. They take their names from mythical figures who, in some tellings, were the Kings of The Unclean Nations. Those historical giants were driven out by Alexander The Great and kept at bay by his Wall. (In The Alexander Romance, their names are Goth and Magothy, who honestly sound like cool new emo Muppets.)
5) ALEC THE GREAT
Speaking of Alexander, the late kind of Macedonia probably wasn’t ever known by the diminutive Alec. That said, it’s close enough for the proverbial government work, meaning that Marvel’s Golden Age hero Alec The Great meets today’s criteria. He appeared only once under this name, likely because of a comic strip of the same name that started in 1931. In his second appearance, Alec The Great became Archie The Gruesome, after which he disappeared for seventy years. Alec/Archie was one of the Golden Age Marvel heroes in All-Winner’s Squad: Band of Heroes, but that series also went unfinished, leaving his final fate unrecorded.
The historical Lothar I was the Emperor of the Carolingian Empire in the 9th Century, also known as Lothair, Lothaire, and Lotario, was the grandson of Charlemagne whose endless conflict with his brothers finally destroyed the empire Grampa Carolus built. His namesake is the majordomo and strong right arm of Mandrake The Magician and would have been a king himself, had he not left to accompany Mandrake in his travels. Some of the early portrayals were flat-out racist, but by the time of Defenders of The Earth in 1986, he was wearing a pretty cool superhero vest and pants, accompanied by his son, L.J.
Circa 229 BC, the Greek city of Hermione was ruled by a man described as a greedy, self-interested tyrant named Xenon. According to Polybius’ Histories, his reign ended not with a bang, but with a conversation, as wise tactician Aratus of Sicyon convinced him to give up his post. There’s not a lot known about him, or about his comic book counterpart from the pages of PS238. Superhero Xenon is a member of the Plasma Pack, a super-team briefly encountered when one of their members, Phlogiston, was summoned as a possible champion of the Earth dimension.
A member of The Blackhawks during the New Earth era, Olaf Friedricksen comes from Denmark, the same country that gives us his royal namesake. Actually, it’s namesakes, as Olaf The Brash founded the House of Olaf in the 10th century, while Olaf I took power circa 1086 and Olaf II followed in the fourteenth century. There was even Olaf Haraldsen, who declared himself the king circa 1143, but never officially held the throne. As for our ace pilot Blackhawk, he is known mostly for his large size and determination, much like his pre-Crisis counterpart, Olaf Bjornsen. who was sometimes Norwegian, sometimes Swedish.
Reigning for 20 years beginning in the year 306, Constantine The Great is remembered for many things, including being the first Emperor of Rome to convert to Christianity. There are next to no contemporaneous accounts of his reign, allowing legends of his tenure to flourish and change over the centuries. He shares his name with the sorcerer who served for years as the backbone of Vertigo Comics, awakening the Swamp Thing to his true nature, defeating a number of demons, and nearly destroying Hell with his double-dealing.
This guy, though, is played by Keanu and calls himself “ConstanTEEN”, making him a different guy and thus making it possible for me to accept his movie without becoming a toxic nerd about one of my favorite characters.
Once again, this week’s topic, Ten Nobles and Kings, is all me, but feel free to follow along @MightyKingCobra to suggest a topic of your own! There’s always more Ten Things madness on my Twitter or check out the full Twitter archive here! As with any set of like items, these aren’t meant to be hard and fast or absolutely complete, especially since many of the names of antiquity still have iconic power, even though their context is long lost. Either way, the comments section is below for just such an emergency, but, as always: Please, no wagering!