A man walks out of the mist holding his head in his hands, far removed from his body – and he happens to be green. You don’t know what to expect next in the one-shot comic ‘Immortal Brothers: The Tale of the Green Knight’ particularly when the god-like brothers Gilad, Ivar and Aram are involved. Otherwise known as The Eternal Warrior, Ivar The Timewalker and Armstrong these men have lived for thousands of years. At some point you would think that their lives have intersected with iconic historical figures. In this case Archer (Armstrong’s sidekick) in the present day tries to keep his girlfriend Faith from surrendering to the Flu. In doing so he decides to relay one of these encounters with the good bits put back in.
The original romantic fourteenth-century poem with its religious overtones and superstition arguably pervade throughout Sir Gawain and The Green Knight. In essence, the long poem serves as a text where the people of the late fourteenth century struggled with their beliefs and how they could coexist with church doctrine by including the religious aspect of Gawain’s prayer (the internal), and combining it with a mythical realm (the external). Also, the anonymous poet of the well-known telling weaves a tale of romance through the ideals of loyalty. Don’t get it twisted, the term romance means a story based on legends with a bit of adventure and the supernatural thrown in. It’s the ultimate Dungeons and Dragons game. Romance in modern day terms had little to do with the story. Still, there is an unusual amount of kissing going on in Archer’s version. And in the Valiant universe’s interpretation, it all starts simply enough. The Green Knight enters King Arthur’s court and challenges him to cut off his head. Within a year’s time, the knight will do the same. This happens during Christmas time, a Christian high holy event. Gawain takes the challenge and during that year finds some way to get out of this situation when he sees the knight still speaking and reminding him of the bargain, while he’s still decapitated. Gawain during that time is a constant struggle and constantly falls back into superstition. But in Archer’s telling Gilad instead is looking for a way to save his Arthur, the earth’s latest geomancer. Thus turning the story from an allegory of faith to a straight tale of deception and hilarity.
As a chivalric knight Gawain draws his strength from the Virgin Mary, however, Gilad who’s known to use his sword for the answer to every question utilizes a different source. And when that doesn’t work he turns to his brothers. Ironically, this story holds more of a ring of truth than the original. After all, how can you explain a decapitated man who makes Gilad keep his word? For Gilad dying is nothing. He’s been killed and resurrected too many times to count. Then there’s all a knight has to embody. You have to know how to look ahead (Ivar), battle (Gilad), and have an innate understanding of the intangible. Believe it or not that is Armstrong. Together these three men make one perfect knight. Alongside the story the artwork is just as compelling. Between the expressions on the faces of the characters to the green knight himself makes you believe in this seemingly impossible landscape.
Considering that writer Fred Van Lente started off his work, not with the credits, but with Archer and Faith in conversation says a lot about what this story is meant to do. The journey would be nothing without the ability to understand yourself. In this rambunctious retelling of ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’, Archer comprehends a little bit more of the world.
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