Six centuries after the birth of Our Lord, in the bygone age of Camelot, King Arthur and his Knights of the Table Round had gathered for a feast when their celebrations were disrupted. The great doors were thrown open, and the gathered assemblage beheld the mortally wounded form of Sir Fallon, Queen Guinevere's own cousin. With his dying breath, Fallon named his attacker: the ogre Blunderbore of the icy northland. King Arthur, infuriated at the death of such a worthy knight, pledged to avenge his death personally if no other knight would.
Sir Justin, newest to the court of Camelot, was eager to prove his mettle in the eyes of his beloved king. "By this blade," he swore, "which hast never known dishonor, I pledge me to avenge the death of Sir Fallon." Before the crack of dawn the next day, Justin mounted his steed, Victory, and rode forth from Camelot to seek the evil ogre of the north.
Justin's old, heavy, rusted armor bore heavily on his shoulders, and the heat of the morning made his ride insufferable. He had not ridden more than a day when he was beset by two ruffians. The scoundrels were no match for the skilled sword of Justin, and he chased them off with a thrust of his lance. Striking a nearby tree, his lance broke an enchantment which had trapped the great mage Merlin inside. Freed from the tree, Merlin thanked the knight; he had been imprisoned by an evil witch and could not have escaped unaided.
As a token of his gratitude, Merlin transformed Justin's armor into a sleek, comfortable and shining outfit. A further enchantment made the armor and weapons invulnerable. As a test, Justin swung at a mighty tree and effortlessly cleaved it in two. However, Merlin was not finished with his thanks. One more wave of his wand, and Victory sprouted immense bird wings. Justin thanked Merlin for his kindly gifts and, seated once more atop "Winged Victory," flew off to complete his task.
His armor comfortable and his journey swift, Sir Justin reached the vast tundra of the north and engaged the giant Blunderbore atop a high mountain. A great battle ensued, as Justin battled his monstrous foe. Finally, Justin was able to strike a death blow. Blunderbore was determined that he would not die alone and struck the mountain with his massive legs. Losing their footing on the narrow, icy ledge, Justin and Winged Victory fell, foundering in the sudden torrent of snow and stone and ice. Hundreds of feet Sir Justin plummeted, and it was only the struggling efforts of his enchanted steed which kept him from hitting the ground of the canyon below. Both the noble knight and his brave horse were buried by tons of ice but they did not die, thanks, no doubt, to the magics of Merlin.
The mountain of ice at last flowed into the North Sea, and the iceberg thus formed did drift for centuries. Yea, the frozen Sir Justin did sit atop his horse for year after year, as the King he loved mourned the passing of the noble knight, was betrayed by his queen and slain by his bastard son, Mordred. King Arthur, his Knights of the Round Table, and his beloved Court of Camelot were all as dust by the time Sir Justin's icy prison reached the land known as New England in the summer of 1941.
A museum curator, Dr. Moresby, was working on a Viking settlement dig upon a beach when he spotted the top of the iceberg and what appeared to be a horse and rider inside. Moresby used a small explosive charge to free Sir Justin from his millenial sleep. Confused and angry, Justin at first took Moresby for an ally of Blunderbore. Dr. Moresby gently broke the news to Sir Justin that he had been trapped in the ice for some 1400 years. Moresby secretly led Justin and Winged Victory to his museum in New York City, where they each asked many questions of the other. A wise and eager student, Justin quickly learned many things of the modern age, although his speech pattern, mannerisms and worldview remained quite Arthurian. Justin was introduced as Museum Assistant Justin Arthur, an expert in armor and ancient Britain, to the lovely Eve Barclay, daughter of one of the museum's major benefactors.
When the museum was robbed that night, Sir Justin sprang into action and, once more attired in his enchanted garb, apprehended the evildoers. When the police asked his name, Moresby called him the Shining Knight, an appellation that suited him. Eve, also at the scene, failed to see any similarity between the Shining Knight and Justin Arthur clearly, one more oddity which can only be attributed to Merlin's magics.
The Shining Knight fought crime for the rest of 1941 and made quite a name for himself. He joined with several other costumed men (The Crimson Avenger and Wing, Vigilante and Stuff, the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy) to form the Seven Soldiers of Victory (sometimes called the Law's Legionnaires). Together, they had a handful of adventures. In one of them, a scientist by the name of Dr. Doome (really!) discovered a means of time travel and offered to return Justin to the age of Camelot if he would betray the SSV. The chivalrous Justin refused to even consider such an evil offer.
When Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan, American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called all "mystery-men" to form an alliance as the All-Star Squadron, helping to defend America from costumed villains, saboteurs and direct attacks. Sir Justin was in Hawaii at the time, where he met Danette Reilly (who would become Firebrand) Sir Justin had barely joined the All-Star Squadron when he received a special request to return to England by Prime Minister Winston Churchill himself. Without any mystery men of its own and besieged by constant bombing, there was great need for a defender such as the Shining Knight. Justin returned to the Sceptred Isle of his birth and served as the personal bodyguard of Winston Churchill. Many times he helped to defend the huddled cities below from the Blitz of nightly bombings by the Germans.
Many of Sir Justin's activities during World War II have yet to be chronicled. Sir Justin did return to Camelot for a time, although it is not revealed how. He then returened to the 1940s. It is known that, at some point after the end of the war, the Seven Soldiers of Victory gathered once more to battle a powerful energy creature known as the Nebula-Man. They constructed an energy rod (similar to a giant lightning rod) and Wing drove it into the Nebula-Man. Wing was killed in the resulting conflagration. However, the tumultuous energies unleashed in the explosion hurled the remaining members of the team into the timestream.
The Shining Knight recovered to find himself in Asia during the reign of Genghis Khan. Bewildered by amnesia from his perilous temporal jaunt, Sir Justin ended up fighting alongside the Mongol hordes.
Decades later (in the Twentieth Century, that is) the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America, along with some specially-invited guests such as Superman and Metamorpho, were having a celebration when a cosmic hand seized the Earth. Needing a device such as that used to destroy the Nebula-Man, the groups discovered the fate of the SSV and split into time-traveling teams to retrieve the remaining Soldiers of Victory. The Shining Knight was successfully recaptured by Sandman, Superman and Metamorpho.
The Shining Knight has not been seen since. It is unknown if he remains in the 1990s or if, perhaps, he was at last returned permanently to the bygone days of Camelot.
ADDENDUM: Sir Justin turned up in modern-day Blue Valley, fighting alongside the new Star-Spangled Kid and S.T.R.I.P.E. It was revealed that Justin has used modern technology to enhance his armor and weapons, and that his old sweetheart Firebrand had been killed by the Serpent King at some time in the past. After the confrontation, he departed to Detroit in order to look for a new Crimson Avenger whom he had heard about.
Merlin cast a spell over Sir Justin's armor, weapons and steed, with the following effects:
Justin's chain mail, boots and accessories were transformed into a sleek, form-fitting body outfit. The armor's weight was reduced; now it is as easy to wear as light cotton. However, the enchanted mail can now repel any conventional attack, even bullets.
The sword was transformed into an invulnerable weapon, able to slice through the metal hull of a German bomber or reflect bullets from a machine gun at point-blank range. Similarly, Justin's lance and shield were also affected.
Justin's physiology was not affected by Merlin's magic, but it is suspected that the sword lends its bearer the tremendous speed, agility and strength to accomplish such feats. Due to his proficiency with the sword, Justin often attacks common criminals with the flat of his sword. However, when in fierce combat with a deadly monster or a trained, honorable enemy, Justin is willing to exert deadly force.
Justin's horse, Winged Victory, is able to fly faster than any bird. Obviously, for such a massive beast to take to the air as easily as a hollow-boned bird, Merlin must have reduced Victory's weight in the same manner as Justin's armor. Winged Victory is able to keep stable as Justin exerts force on other objects, no doubt another gift from Merlin.
ADDENDUM: Justin's modern-day armor includes voice-activated helmet and shield which form themselves from compact strips of metal (similar to the Batmobile's security shields in the Batman films). His costume is slightly altered as well.
This article is ©April 1998 Michael Hutchison
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