What’s Going On In Prince Valiant? When did King Arthur retire? December 2021 – March 2022


I don’t know! A casual mention in part of the current storyline was that King Arthur had retired, and some time ago. I had just thought they dropped the “In The Time Of King Arthur” subtitle on the title page for graphic design reasons or something. If someone actually knows the strip better than I do, please, let me know.

Nevertheless, this should get you up to speed on Mark Schultz and Thomas Yeates’s Prince Valiant for early March, 2022. If you’re reading this after about June 2022 there’s probably a more up-to-date plot recap at this link.

Also, maybe of interest, on my other blog I hope to finish my 2021 Mathematics A-to-Z. This is to be with an essay for the letter Z. Yes, it’s run a bit longer than I wanted but please understand: 2021 was a lousy year.

Prince Valiant.

19 December 2021 – 6 March 2022.

Prince Valiant has fallen into an escort mission. Morgan Le Fay, abandoned — and threatened — by the dark forces she had done witchcraft with, needs his protection to get home. They enter Londinium ahead of a Saxon raiding party. The small, forgotten garrison can’t hope to hold out. He declares that King Arthur has ordered the outpost abandoned. And they accept Morgan Le Fay, as the king’s sister, as representing the King’s word.

With the remains of Londinium surrounded by the Saxon enemy, Val has formulated a plan for evacuating the few surviving warriors. He is pleasantly surprised to find several old Roman ballistic war machines still intact, and has them wheeled into the courtyard for critical inspection. 'I have seen such machines in action,' the prince mutters to the dubious Cafalt, 'And I believe, with some earnest repair, we can get these working - if only for one shot.' Then Val is off to see Morgan Le Fay, who has been collecting certain herbs from a long-abandoned Roman garden. He explains his plan, and then: 'We need a grand distraction. You magicians are good with concocting flame and smoke and dazzling effects.' The sorceress replies: 'Tell the men to bring all the oil and pitch in this place, and the naphtha that I believe they will find in the armory's makhazin. I will supply the other ingredients.' The old armorer's forge serves as Morgan's workshop, and she works deep into the night. Weird lights and crackling noises emanate from the chamber. To the uneasy warriors, Val cheerfully offers: 'Trust her - she wants to get out alive too!'
Mark Schultz and Thomas Yeates’s Prince Valiant for the 30th of January, 2022. ‘Makhazin’, this comic causes me to learn, is one of the many Arabic words brought into Western languages; it means ‘storehouse’ and is where we get the word ‘magazine’ from. It’s first recorded in English in 1583 (and first recorded in Latin in 1214), while this action is taking place … uh .. sometime contemporary to the Emperor Justinian. (The 1982-vintage Prince Valiant strips just got to Justinian’s accession this past week.) But that’s probably why the word’s presented as more obviously a loan word.

So they like this “escape” plan. The trick is getting past the Saxons. There are a couple ancient pieces of Roman war machinery, that might be put together for one shot. And Valiant enlists Morgan Le Fay: if she could do something impressive with flame and smoke, they might have something worth shooting. The plan works: they put together a night of impressive fireworks that panic the Saxons.

In the dark hour before dawn, wrapped infog rising from the Thames, Val and Cafalt make their exit over the decaying Roman bridge, leaving doomed Londinium to the Saxons. In the distance ahead they can barely see their fellow evacuees. They move slowly, cautiously - but perhaps muffled hooves make their horses a bit unsure. Cafalt's steed steps through a rotting plank, cannot regain his balance, and crashes against Cafalt! The sharp cracks and whinnies that echo through the fog are all that Wassa, the Saxon war chief, needs to hear to confirm his suspicions. 'The bridge! They are escaping over the bridge!' Siege laddrers are thrown up to the bridge under Londinium's walls and are quickly mounted by a swarming Saxon horde that finds a lone prince of Camelot standing in staunch defense of his fallen comrade!'
Mark Schultz and Thomas Yeates’s Prince Valiant for the 27th of February, 2022. I imagine that Schultz and Yeates feel some delight in setting action like this on London Bridge. There was the Roman-era bridge, built somewhere close to the famous and the modern bridge’s location, and it’s plausible that it would be in condition about like this around 550 or so. (Oh, yes, as part of Comics Kingdom’s recent borking of their web site, they’ve switched many of the Sunday comics from their correct three-row, full-page-width format to the narrower, four-row, half-page width. I have informed them of the mistake but they have yet to acknowledge or correct it.)

Briefly. Wassa, the Saxon leader, recognizes this as a diversion for a retreat. The garrison tries to withdraw across the London Bridge. The garrison’s leader, Cafalt, has an accident when his horse steps through a rotted plank. It breaks his leg, and Valiant stands up to protect him against the pursuing Saxons. But it is one fighter, however much he is the protagonist, against the whole war party …

Next Week!

Since I last checked in on Joe Staton, Shelley Pleger, and Shane Fisher’s Dick Tracy we’ve seen Blackjack versus Mr Bones. We’ve seen The Apparatus make a fresh attempt at killing Dick Tracy. We’ve seen mysterious deaths marked by flower petals. And we’ve even seen reruns. I’ll try to summarize it all next week, if things go to plan.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

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