Join us for this week’s Ye Olde “So You Want To Read Comics”. This is our weekly feature where we take a look at a single topic or genre, then give you two comic book recommendations, perfect for new readers, based on that topic or genre. This week we’re looking at comics for fans of medieval times (not the restaurant).
The medieval period is a term given to European history that occurred between the years 476 and 1450 A.D. It is during this time that the world sees the rise of Christianity as a dominant religion and the early stages of European colonialism. It should be noted that this period of time is sometimes referred to as “The Dark Ages” due to the rampant suppression of science and any thought that went against the established Churches and monarchies of the day. While the day-to-day life of most people was quite difficult, that hasn’t stopped Hollywood, and countless authors from latching onto romanticized versions of chivalry, knighthood, and feudalism, as inspirations for their creations. Movies like Kingdom of Heaven, The Last Duel, and Braveheart all take place during these 1000 years, while well-known legends like King Arthur and Robin Hood can trace their creation to this period.
So for those who are in search of some comics featuring your favorite Medieval tropes, here are a couple places to start.
DARK KNIGHTS OF STEEL
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Yasmine Putri
Publisher: DC Comics
One of the best aspects of comic books and the characters that inhabit them is their ability to be molded and contorted to fit into a wide range of settings and stories. So, it doesn’t feel like much of a stretch at all to take some of the most well-known (and lesser-known) characters from DC Comics and put them into a medieval setting. Now, this does lean more into the fantasy side of things as opposed to a straightforward medieval tale, many of the same trappings are here. This story features a kingdom led by the house of El, basically Superman and his family, with a version of Batman being the most trusted knight in the land. An assassination attempt sends the kingdom into strife as people battle for the throne, rebellions spring up, and multinational political drama unfolds. While this story does use references to elements established in other versions of these characters, most of that is simply for flavor, the story itself is self-contained. As of right now, this is an ongoing series so don’t expect a concrete ending as of yet.
Writer: Alex Nikolavitch
Artist: Zhang Xiaoyu
The medieval era is a time period that is in part, defined by the brutal wars that were a constant presence. Some of the most famous of these wars is a series of wars where Jerusalem exchanged hands multiple times, collectively known as The Crusades. This series takes real-life events from these conflicts and re-envisions them with a healthy dose of fantastical aspects and science fiction sprinkled on top. While it does move away from realism fairly quickly, it still manages to capture some of the less pretty side of things from medieval times, including the viciousness of close-quarter combat and plagues. Being that this series is tied to The Crusades it should go without saying that religion does feature heavily here, so if that’s something that you might find offensive or just isn’t your cup of tea, this one might not be for you. But, for those who are still on board, this series has finished and can be collected in three volumes.
What are some of your favorite medieval-inspired comics? What did you think of these recommendations? Let us know in the comments section below.