Monday, February 25, 2008

"You know about transmigration of souls; do you know about transposition of epochs--and bodies?"

Camelot 3000 was one of its first direct market projects to be published by DC Comics between 1982-1985 [the latter part of the 12-issue limited series written by Mike Barr and penciled by Brian Bolland ran terminally late].

King Arthur, the wizard Merlin and several reincarnated Knights of the Round Table reemerged into an overpopulated future world of 3000 A.D. where they had to fight off an alien invasion masterminded by Arthur's old nemesis, Morgan Le Fay. Fulfilling the ancient prophecy that he would return when England needed him most, Arthur was accidentally awakened from his resting place beneath Glastonbury Tor by a young archeology student, Tom Prentice, whom Arthur took on as his squire and later a knight. The two of them subsequently traveled to Stonehenge, where Merlin lied trapped by the mystical creature Nyneve, and awakened him to help them retrieve Arthur's legendary sword, Excalibur.

King Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot were traditionally portrayed as the familiar doomed triangle of lovers; with Guinevere reincarnated as American military commander Joan Acton, and Lancelot reborn as French industrialist and philanthropist Jules Futrelle. Sir Galahad was reborn as a Japanese samurai and devout adherent of bushido. Sir Percival, early on suffered the fate of being genetically altered into a monstrous giant, but he retained his gentle manner. The loutish Sir Kay revealed to Arthur that his characteristic obnoxious demeanor was in fact an intentional affectation meant to reduce tensions between the various members of Arthur’s court, by uniting them in mutual dislike of Kay.

In this version, Modred is not the son of Arthur's sister, but is instead the bastard child of Arthur by another woman. After Modred's birth, he had been taken away by a peasant woman to be hidden away from Arthur, but she was intercepted by Sirs Kay and Tristan. Arthur then attempted to drown the baby to keep him from becoming a threat to any legitimate heir; but then unknown to Arthur, the baby survived. In the year 3000, Modred is reincarnated as Jordan Matthew, a corrupt United Nations official in league with Morgan Le Fay, and who later fuses the recovered Holy Grail to a suit of armor.

The most divergent treatment of any of Arthur’s knights is that of Sir Tristan, who is unexpectedly reincarnated as a woman. This transformation forces him to reexamine his previous conceptions of gender roles and his own sexuality. Although his relationship with Isolde -- also reincarnated as a woman -- is tested by his new identity, their enduring love for one another eventually triumphs, and the two become lovers.
Barr and Bolland received widespread acclaim for their work on Camelot 3000, including a 1985 Kirby Award nomination for Best Finite Series.
Trivia: You get extra credit if you can identify the source of the title quote.

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