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  • Kid Chaos

    Ah, to be a knight in shining armor…

  • gogomail

    It’s true what she’s saying.Sometimes what we what to think is not how it is/was in history or reality.

  • Skylar Green

    Hey, hey, now! CULTURED, brutal, aristocratic murderers. Give them some credit.

    • Catherine Kehl

      Mm… the culture was was a veneer, applied to keep things from getting totally out of hand.

      (There is a temptation to make snarky comments about different cultures and their various histories regarding culture, learning and knowledge… but honestly, I suspect making a big deal about the differences might be less important than that they were all made of people, and subject to all the things that means.)

      • GreatWyrmGold

        What is any culture but a veneer over a confused, primal core? And can this veneer not shape lives and determine how those lives affect one another?

    • Sergio Le Roux

      Also, Honorable. As in, “hey, it is not honorable to shoot me with that crossbow, peasant”.

      • Honorable=the stuff I’m trained to counter

      • Rumble in the Tumble

        I dunno, but I don’t think that peasants had so many crossbows lying around.

        • Random832

          The point is that the practice of fielding peasant-conscripted armies armed with crossbows was regarded as dishonorable because it allowed for the possibility of such a “lesser” person to easily kill an armored knight.

    • KevlarNinja

      I think the people in the Middle East during the Crusades would argue differently.

      • lizasweetling

        and so would the people in the Byzantine empire before that.

        • GreatWyrmGold

          Like, months before that.
          The Peasant’s Crusade was a mess.

        • Paradoxius

          All throughout, as a matter of fact. If I remember correctly, it was the fourth or fifth crusade that finally caused the fall of Eastern Rome.

      • Ian Osmond

        “Cultured” like anthrax, not “cultured” like yogurt. Still culture, though.

      • GreatWyrmGold

        Well, naturally, but they’d be a bit biased. When someone’s killing you or your people, you always dwell on the negative.

      • Silva
  • Emmy

    Man, I want an armor room.

    • GreatWyrmGold

      i’d be fine with an armor closet. Say…an armoire.

  • Abel Undercity

    One of my favorite themes in this comic is the notion that superheroics is basically kid stuff that got way too real.

    • Superhero fiction is in its most basic form little more than childish escapism and power fantasies. Thats not a bad thing, all fiction is escapism of some sort, but the simplistic morality system of most superhero comics smacks of Cops and Robbers. You can catch muggers all day long and it wont make a lick of difference, not to mention it being a huge waste of superhuman powers.

      • Dartangn

        You know comics have moved on a bit since the 1970s. Superhero Fiction in it’s most basic form is about heroes. What the heroes do is up to the writer, but considering we have thousands of years of mythology that’s only lacking of a set of spandex tights to be called superheroics, I wouldn’t be too dismissive. Superhero stories are human stories. The fact that most superhero writers aren’t particularly imaginative with the basic ideas isn’t particularly relevant, because frankly most ‘writers’ are pretty bad as well.

        See the genre’s potential, and not the quick bucks presentations of it. TV’s capable of more than Man Getting Hit With Football, and stage is capable of a lot more than slapstick. So too with superhero comics.

        • Ian Osmond

          Superhero fiction wasn’t just that in the 70s, either. Green Arrow forced Green Lantern to confront class issues in the NO EVIL SHALL ESCAPE MY SIGHT storyline in 1970. In the SNOWBIRDS DON’T FLY storyline in 1971, Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy became addicted to heroin. Luke Cage had to deal with racism, a justice system that assumed his guilt because he’s Black, and general societal indifference to the social problems in his neighborhood in 1972.

          Going back earlier, the early Superman comics in the Thirties had him fighting against, well, basically the 1% — slumlords and the like. The Green Hornet fought against political and police corruption on the radio. And in the 1940s, Superman helped break the power of the real life KKK, by having him investigate them in fiction, and expose what they were.

          Superheroes have always been escapist, but they’ve also always been political, both.

      • Endless

        Spoken like someone that hasn’t read a superhero comic in a couple decades.

      • TigerVi

        I was under the impression this web comic was making a commentary about golden and silver age comic superheroes. Modern superhero comics have progressed far and writers are aware. Superhero fiction at it’s core is simply about heroes, no different than mythic stories at any other point in time. The genre is an eternal one.

        • Shino

          Really though? “Superheroes should be banned” and “superhumans as oppressed minority” are rather modern stories.
          Superhero stories are primarily about people who, given extraordinary abilities, decide to use them by punching criminals. That really hasn’t changed and that is primarily what even “modern” superheroes do.

          • TigerVi

            You have a point there, stories like the X-Men are quite modern compared to the rest of written fiction. As for heroes fighting crime, there is nothing really wrong with that, it is a staple of superhero fiction, and makes for good conflict. No different than elves in high fantasy or laser guns in sci-fi. By aware I meant authors do nod towards civil issues and other ways heroes can use their powers. Peter Parker taught at a university on his free time, and Iron Man built large arc reactors in almost every major city in the U.S. to provide clean energy.

  • bta

    Just like that Batman movie with all the exotic suits! Talk about brutal and aristocratic.

  • Darkoneko Hellsing

    Really a knight in shining armor. I assume her previous artificial leg was assorted to the one here.

  • ∫Clémens×ds

    I like Lisa.
    “As I see, you are overwhelmed with problems, and have indicated that you would like me to provide emotional support.

    Wanna see my armor room?”

    (Also, props for the art today. It’s always great, but today it downright marvellous.)

    • JeffH

      I like Lisa too! And OMG, that white suit of armor!

      But the armor room doesn’t seem like that much of a non-sequitur to me, when these suits of armor could be metaphors for masks and capes.

  • Tauls

    Ooh, looks like we’re going to get a look into Paladin’s psyche. Her continuing artistic themes of rising above, and that said rising is beautiful say a lot, but I’m going to hold off until we get more from her.

  • We admire power. We admire stories about powerful people violencing the hell out of weak people, from the Iliad to superheroes. I think there’s a rawness to it, an animal pleasure that comes before any kind of moral thought… Only at a later moment do we bother to come up with some justification as to why is was ok for the heroes to lynch the mooks.

    • David

      Who is this “we”?

      • MrSing

        If you think you can’t be brainwashed into mob justice or facism, if you think you can’t be broken by pain, if you think you can’t be turned into a monster by hunger and poverty. Than you make yourself vulnerable to your own bad nature.
        The greatest monsters in the world were still humans like you and I. Don’t think for a second you can’t turn into one of them.
        These feelings are in all of us, the part that lies under our civilized selves and is kept in check by our morality. If you don’t acknowledge it’s there, it might sneak up on you one day.

      • Humanity in general.

    • Dartangn

      Except a heap of those old stories tended to have the power of the hero derived from their virtue, and that power alone without the will and knowledge to use it well was the domain of the villian.

      Which is a keystone of a huge amount of superheroes, really. Explictly so with Captain America and Thor, Wonder Woman has justice and virtue and suchlike as big part of her (see lasso). The X-Men use their powers for justice and defense of a minority unlike the genocidal powerful maniacs of the other sides. We don’t admire power, we admire justice. We just make stories up so that the good has the strength to enact their will. We want to see the good guy win, and so we create circumstances where they can.

      As for myths, cleverness and bravery and the right patron are as important as strength. Look at Hercules. A titan (so to speak) of strength, and his big problem was that his strength ended up being subverted and turned to horrible ends. There’s any number of powerful Tyrants. David and Golliath is explitly about virtue trumping military power.

      Don’t get me wrong, there’s a bunch of whitewashing in these tales, and they’re open to deconstruction, but I think the underlying motive is to present themselves as morality tales with window dressing. That’s why the 90s was such a big deal in comics. Antiheroes were on the rise, and the whole moral dimension of the superhero world was getting turned upside down on a regular basis. That suggests that it wasn’t just power getting admired previously.

      • Potatohead

        I thought David and Goliath was about how you should never bring a sword to a gunfight – or in this case, a sling fight. Slings could be serious weapons in that era if you knew how to use one.

        • Ian Osmond

          Yup. I used to teach Hebrew school, and I think I may have upset some parents by teaching precisely that, in pretty much exactly the same words you used. The other word for “sling stone” is “bullet”, and not for no reason.

          (Okay, technically, a sling bullet is a chunk of round metal, and is somewhat denser and more effective than a stone — but not by much.)

          A 100 gm chunk of rock hitting your forehead at 30 m/s ain’t trivial.

        • Dartangn

          It’s how Bill Bailey summarised Tom Clancy. ‘Good eventually triumphs, through massive firepower’.

          • Boojum

            Deciding against having firepower isn’t good, though, it’s magical thinking.

          • Skylar Green

            I find, historically, that the more realistic line is, “Through massive firepower, our belief that we are good triumphs.”

        • I know. Getting hit by a sling was like getting hit by a pistol that shoots rocks.

          Also, it’s speculated by one author that a possible condition that could have caused Goliath’s gigantism might have also made him blind.

      • Gonna have to disagree with you there. Do you really think all those poor Trojan footsoldiers were in any way less virtuous than the Greek? Do you think Achille’s invincibility (brought by Thethis bathing him in Styx as a baby) are justified by virtue or justice? More to the point, to you think the way the poet lingers longingly on severed heads and bloodspurting spears is supposed to satisfy a sense of fairness?

        It’s all right there in the first line:

        > Rage — Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles,
        murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,
        hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,
        great fighters’ souls, but made their bodies carrion,
        feasts for the dogs and birds…

        As for Hercule’s lack of cleverness—there’s more than one kind of power. In the Odyssey we enjoy Odysseus tricking people dumber than him, just like in the Iliad we enjoyed seeing Achilles beating people weaker than him. The power of cleverness is the motor of trickster tales—in modern day, characters like Bugs Bunny or Woody Woodpecker.

        Likewise, you won’t convince me that kung-fu or action movies are so popular just because people like justice or fairness. If so, there would be a lot more movies about environmental NGOs successfully suing power companies, or about bad managers being caught red-handed and paying compensation. But action flicks aren’t about justice, they’re about revenge (“sing the rage…”), which, unlike justice, works at an instinctive level, without a measured moral rationality. A revenge-porn flick has a lock’n’load structure, just like a crusaders’ blessing: the enemies did bad action X, therefore we’re allowed to enjoy copious amount of violence. But I don’t keep watching Bruce Lee punching 100 weaker people because I want to see a demonstration of how crime doesn’t pay, I watch Bruce Lee punching people because Bruce Lee’s moves are cool – because power. As shown by the Austin Powers parody, we barely even know who the mooks *are*; we don’t know if they deserve to be beaten at all; they’re barely more than cardboard cutouts, existing to be punched (think of Power Ranger’s blue eggface aliens, and indeed of faceless hordes of aliens/orcs/zombies/monsters in general). The pleasure derived from power is visceral; then, upon reflection, perhaps to avoid the danger of identifying with the weak guy, we come up with some excuse to justify why the violence was ok. This is why the violence-blessing premise takes 5% of the story, and for the rest of the movie the camera will be a loving voyeur to the acts of power. Superheroes neatly demonstrate this kind of a posteriori rationalization, when we compare the nature of Golden Age stories vs. Silver Age.

        I agree that in a Christian story, like Davi and Golliath, the point is good defeating evil, power isn’t a good thing (except God’s), the meek shall inherit the earth and so on. There’s also a category of modern-ish folk stories, the fairy-tale, that are morality education in thin disguise, especially in the later revisions (the older revisions tend to be more like “beware of strangers, kid”). But that was not the kind of popular story I was thinking about. In the very old stories of the folk and the tribes, as well as in the most popular modern stories, what I see is admiration for the powerful, justified by some tacked-on rationalization as to why that power is justified. This is shown by how much relative attention the story gives to the acts of violence, the display of power (just like pornography is defined by how much attention the story/camera gives to the acts of sex). It’s also shown by where the attention of the audience lingers. All the interesting, subtle moral issues of Breaking Bad fade from popular discussion, leaving a desert of “I’m the danger” and “I’m the guy who knocks” image macros. People actually thought that Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite) was *praising* police brutality; not even a left-leaning sequel changed the bloodthirsty rightwinger’s love for what they read as glorification of BOPE.

        And knights and samurai are hugely popular, despite being, when you think about it, basically their culture’s SS (consider e.g. the Shinsengumi). Most of the warriors murdered by Musashi weren’t evil by any stretch of imagination, especially not in the way the story is told in folk. Musashi isn’t admired because he’s especially virtuous (in fact his allegiance to the Confucian samurai virtues was, if anything, shakier than the norm); he’s admired because he was the strongest there was.

        • Dartangn

          Considering the Greek and Trojan soldiers aren’t really discussed, and that the entire Trojan war wasn’t really presented in moral terms so much as the typical epic prose with gods and heroes and kings generally getting up in each other’s faces. The war was near explicitly started as a result of the goddess of chaos using the jealousy and pettyness of the existing pantheon against one another.

          The Illiad isn’t a worship of power, nor much of a morality tale. It’s an epic. It sort of rises above either of those things, although it touches on each one in various ways.

          And Hercules’s fall wasn’t about cleverness as such, so much as the insidious desire to do evil on the part of the centaur that ended up poisioning him. He has to do a great series of goldy works to redeem himself. It’s not exactly a tale about forgiveness. Hell, it wasn’t even his fault when you get down to it, but work to redeem himself he must.

          Obviously action movies have a bunch of dimensions to them. And environmental NGOs suing companies is a fairly indirect and inaccessible source of cheap thrills. It’s removed.
          Revenge is a shallow interpretation of what they’re about. Some have revenge elements, and some murky the waters considerably, but they’re about revenge in the same way that Erin Brockovich or Schindler’s List is about revenge. They’re not, but at times it’s easier to write a story that begins with a wrong to be righted, or striven against. That’s not about revenge or power, it’s just a way of setting up a complication in the narrative.

          And while minor characters don’t get the same degree of depth, that’s a practical component as much as anything else. You don’t want just a single fight between the villian and the hero, because you want to build up the tension, etc. That’s basic writing. You have some challenges before the hero on the way.

          And modern stories are not about admiration for the powerful, if such a simplistic conclusion could possibly cover the vast range of films produced today. You can’t pass off the moralising as a flimsy pretext, because it creates a context for everything else, which fundamentally changes the themes and messages of a text. The specific acts are irrelevant in the fact of the huge subtexts that exist, and most often the conclusions and specific setups.

          And Breaking Bad holds attention so well because of the decent into darkness. It’s not admiration of power, it’s a sustained observation about what ordinary people become capable of and the depths one man will sink. If anything, it demonstrates the old adage that power corrupts.

          And as everyone’s noticed, Knights and Samurai stories have very little to do with their reality. Don’t cross the streams. There’s the stories, and then there’s reality. They don’t touch much, in part because the stories were written way after the reality, and barring the borrowing of names and a few basic ideas, they’re stories about people that never exists, and doing things that never happened, and behaving in ways that they never did.

          And Musashi ties into a whole bunch of other Japanese values. And he’s still not a definitive samurai. He’s just a good swordsman, and that’s how he’s remembered. For that matter, consider the matter of Muramasa and Masemune. Power alone was the domain of the evil one.

          And with almost all of the modern disney works, the powerful one is the villain, and the virtuous one is the hero. The Villian tends to either destroy themselves, or be defeated by some nondescript force of goodness, isolated from just raw power.

        • GreatWyrmGold

          Nothing is universal.

    • EveryZig

      People love power but they also simultaneously hate it, which is why stories tend to have it both ways by having the powerful hero defeating an at-face-value* more powerful force. That is why the mighty warrior’s ultimate enemy is always some menacing monster, wizard, or emperor instead of just some random jerk. That is why Achilles had to die, because as an invincible warrior there was nothing more at-face-value threatening than him. There are plenty off faceless minions but the story, rather than treating them as weak individuals, does not treat them as individuals at all** but as appendages of some larger force (army, empire, gang) that as a whole is at-face-value stronger than the protagonist. By identifying the hero AS weak in at-face-value comparison, people get their desire to have their power and defeat it too.

      * Of course we all know that a dragon in a story has next to no chance of winning against a farm boy with a magic sword, but it is about how imposing they seem at a glance instead of if anyone actually expects them to actually win.

      ** Dehumanization is more about the faceless enemies being different and other than about them being weak, as the dehumanized enemies can be at-face-value strong, and characters can be weak while generally not being treated in the same way when they are individuals in the story.

      • GreatWyrmGold

        It’s also why the seemingly invincible heroes (Achilles, Superman, etc) tend to either have some major weakness their enemies can exploit or are pretty unpopular.

    • Actually, we like people kicking the shit of people who think they rule the world because they can push around the weak.

  • Oren Leifer

    So Lisa’s lair reflects the conflicts of the world (or at least Alison’s social world) now. There are all these heroes who dare to fight for what they believe in and yet find themselves ineffective or worse maligned by society, and it is as of yet unclear whether the surviving biodynamics are unable to effect any real change or if they are simply philosophically stranded, with the metaphysical ability to fix the world without the knowledge of how to do so.

    Also it’s interesting that the devil/demon that the angelic Lisa in the mural on the ceiling* is fighting is a white man holding a chain, possibly a subtle reminder that the true enemy is the normative hegemony. Although that may be overthinking it.

    *And this seems to be a private room that Lisa built much or all of herself. Building and fighting in high-tech armor, programming AI drones, and painting murals: she really is a Renaissance woman

    • Catherine Kehl

      There is something important in here about her understanding that myths need to be re-formed and re-created. I don’t think I quite clicked on the extent to which as a person of color she has been written out of the a lot of the western mythology, even when she gravitates to much of it. Well, screw that!

      * And to a very large part unjustly so, from a historical sense. The white-washing of history is pretty amazingly lame.

      • Spicier Angel

        I think it goes a little further. To be clear, during the American Civil War,

        “I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:”As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal”;
        Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
        Since God is marching on.”

        Was not universally preferred over

        “Yes we’ll rally round the flag, boys, we’ll rally once again,
        Shouting the battle cry of freedom,
        We will rally from the hillside, we’ll gather from the plain,
        Shouting the battle cry of freedom!”

        Among the individual soldiers psyching themselves up to fight and die. But “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” was the most popular war song among the Union, and far from the most bloodthirsty–cf “John Brown’s Body” and “Marching Song of the First Arkansas”. However, in its religious fervor, partly inspired by the tone of the abolitionist movement if I understand correctly, it is just as menacing, I think.

        So, if someone of a certain heroic mindset were to look through history for a war, fought for a good cause, primarily by ordinary people who believed in said cause, she might reasonably stumble on that song, which in any case has additional significance to her as a person of color. Also, there’s a lot of historical revisionism about the reasons for fighting the Civil War; say what you like about the politicians, but in the Union Army there were abolitionists, and unionists, and there were a lot of abolitionist volunteers. It was sort of a crusade.

        So, this imagery might have been called to her attention by the quoted verse. And for the reasons already stated as well as those above, I don’t think you could choose much of a better mural to exemplify a holy warrior.

        And the warrior angel in question is an obvious self-insert in addition to everything else. Hence Al’s question. Lisa is adding a little context to her answer, but it’s obviously some form of “No, it wasn’t.” How was that ever plausible in the first place? Eh, hindsight.

        • Oren Leifer

          Good point about the American Civil War having a lot of crusaders on the side of the North. In fact, having just read “The Good Lord Bird”, a historical fiction account of John Brown’s travels and actions, it would be very accurate to call him and his followers crusaders in both idealistic and accurate representations of the term. He fits the tone of this comic very well, being someone who used their considerable power to do what he thought of as “right”, for what modern people agree was a noble cause, but with methods that were questionable in their morality and feasibility.

      • Silva

        Why not reconstruct Ọya instead, though?

        • Catherine Kehl

          So, I can’t answer for Lisa. I mean, I couldn’t, even if Lisa wasn’t someone else’s creation. But I can ask some questions, and I talk about my own processes, when they’ve touched on similar themes.

          Maybe the question should be – why should she reconstruct Oya? I mean, clearly there’s no reason she shouldn’t. If Oya speaks to her, if Oya inspires her, more power! But maybe she doesn’t. Or, at least, that’s not the story she’s telling here. I think people are drawn to stories for a lot of reasons, and Lisa is smart and self aware, and is tweaking those pretty intentionally. It’s clear she’s playing with themes she absorbed as a child, and themes that resonate with her now.

          And now on to my own answers. So. My racial/ethnic awareness of myself growing up was very strongly that of an over-sized white girl growing up in an extended family with a lot of Japanese and Chinese relatives. (My actual genetic heritage is a bit more complicated, but that’s what I knew about myself back then.) I figured out that Christianity was just not going to cut it for me by the time I was six or so, and absorbed the, um, prevailing feeling that there was nothing quite so lame as a fake asian not much later, and ended up getting really heavily involved in European folklore by my adolesence because, well, what was left? And don’t get me wrong, that was awesome. I’ll spare everyone all the vagaries of my wasted youth (I regret nothing! Also, most things still in circulation are under a pen name.)

          But it took me a really long time to come to terms with the idea that the stories that mattered to me didn’t come attached to my DNA or my skin. I mean, as an oversized (no seriously, my father was a linebacker in highschool – I totally grew up thinking I was *so ugly* compared to all my cousins) white girl, this gets into some murky areas of cultural appropriation and stuff, but, darn, the stories of my family, like the food of my family, are the things I heard (and ate) when I was a kid. It took me a while to make my own peace with that, and I still get tripped up on it sometimes. I mean, I live in a flipping zendo, and I still hate to write down that I’m a Buddhist (though part of this is a definitional thing – I don’t believe crap because I’m a Buddhist, it’s more that I’ve found a pretty good match in a community of practice.)

          • Silva

            I won’t say she “should” pick this over that; but the reason to consider Ọya is: as a mulatto/black person (and, I presume, of West, as opposed to East, African ancestry), she hasn’t been “written out” of any folklore – she hasn’t been written “in” for obvious unobjectionable reasons. And, as I’ve seen around here, with “Greek story reimagined with blacks” being a recurrent theater theme – are you (generic) implying that there aren’t enough stories to tell about the mythologies of actual blacks? (And mind you, I live in a region where African-derived religion is actually practiced, and Lisa certainly knew it existed rather early on. So, what’s holding you up?) With regards to “what’s left?” – well, everything’s left.

          • Catherine Kehl

            There is a lot of writing out that has gone on. Even if we skip over the pretty ridiculous white washing of Egypt (and I’m just going to start with Egypt…) and forget what a multicultural world the Roman empire was there’s been a general tendency to write people of color out of European history. (You’ve seen the “People of Color in European Art History” blog, yes, just for a fairly obvious collection?)

            Someone of African American ancestry growing up in the US… has an awful lot of history and culture to claim. And there are different reasons, both intellectual and emotional, to lay claim to different parts of it. …but I’m kind of guessing that for Lisa, Yoruba is not the mythology that fascinated her in her childhood and teens.

            (I am perhaps biased, in that my friends- even if I just limit this to friends of color – who were interested in Yoruba or other not hugely known traditions from their own heritages tended to be more in the humanities, while my more tech-geek friends have been far more likely to get into involved discussions of the mythological significance of well known comic book characters. And historically I’ve straddled that fence, though I’m pretty far on the science side at the moment.)

    • herpaderpatology

      The mural is a play on the image(s) of St. Michael defeating Lucifer https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/68/Guido_Reni_031.jpg

  • Daniel Vogelsong

    And the funny part is, our superhero genre is exactly the same as those from the mythos, of the samurai and the knights. They are their societies billionaires, the geniuses, those gifted by Gods or Science, often against their will. They’re brutal because they wield that enormous power, and their stories are interesting because we want to see them fail. And on a certain level, they have to be. Because we already have people who make just enough to get by, who have no superpowers, and fight crime… the Police force.

    • GreatWyrmGold

      They’re brutal because they wield that enormous power…
      Power doesn’t make you brutal, it just makes you strong. Misusing power is what makes you brutal.

  • Interesting things about the King Arthur stories: 1) It was originally a bit of cultural propaganda by a Welsh clerk, made up pretty much out of whole cloth. 2) The French knighthood and their creative-class hangers-on missed the propaganda aspect, adored it on a structural and narrative level, and appropriated the hell out of it. 3) Edward Longshanks embraced the whole concept, financed bullshit Arthurian tourist sites all over the west of England including a heck of a facility at Glastonbury, and generally exploited the legends in what looks a lot like a deliberate campaign of counter-propaganda synthesis, exploiting the newly created common cultural ground to cement his successful conquest of Wales.

    • Hey, don’t diss Geoffrey of Monmouth, he was a great fanfic writer 😉

      • I was arguing that he was an original fabulist. If anyone could be characterized as fanfic writers, that’d be the Arthurian-cycle jongleurs like Chrétien de Troyes, Rustichello da Pisa, Wace, and Raoul de Houdenc.

        And like modern fanfic, some of the best ideas in Arthurian legend can be attributed to the second-wave writers – elements like the Round Table, the Grail Quest, Lancelot, and so forth.

    • TheGonzoMD .

      People in the 13th century were fucking nerds.

    • Didn’t the Welsh guy paint him as a childishly petty and cruel villain?

  • Retrikaethan

    it seems lisa maybe ascribes to the D+D definition of a paladin. that would be pretty excellent 😀

    • Pol Subanajouy

      That would make my day. That would make my day in a way with someone with the superpower to make things superhumanly well could make it.

      Like Lisa.

    • Paradoxius

      It seems like she used to, but stopped when she figured out what the term originally meant.

      • It meant “favored by Charlemagne” or something right?

  • Walter

    Did she paint that ceiling painting? It feels to me like she did. Painting probably lies within her polymath skillset.

    Props to her. Collecting armor is cool, and having an armor room is double cool. I’m also happy that she’s taking Alison’s mind off her dilemma.

  • KevlarNinja

    Finally, someone who points out knights were assholes.

    • Read some Horrible Histories. That’s where I learned it. Richard the Lionheart was a whiny gore addict

  • NCD

    Lisa really likes frescoes, doesn’t she?

  • Philip Bourque

    I am in love with her collection.
    Personally, I think that the worst, in terms of murder, are those who kill solely for the sake of killing (a trophy hunter, for example), those who kill exclusively for the the pleasure of killing or making someone else suffer. Most often, the people under that metal covering were soldiers, people who were doing what they thought was best to keep their own safe.

  • NOW I know it’s an alternate reality, with the armored persons in book covers being girls 😛 (I wish there were enough stories of girls in armor when I grew up to be a tossaway assumption during casual conversation).

    • Cindy MacDougall

      It may have been a book about St. Joan of Arc. She is typically presented in armour.

    • Ian Osmond

      DEED OF PAKSENARRION by Elizabeth Moon: 1988. ALANNA: THE FIRST ADVENTURE by Tamora Pierce: 1983. THE STEERSWOMAN by Rosemary Kirsten: 1989. To name three that I personally really like.

      Heck, the RED SONJA comic book, 1973, based on Robert Howard’s RED SONYA OF ROGATINO in 1934. Admittedly, “chainmail bikini” may not be exactly what we’re talking about here…

      You could, possibly, add in the women in armor standing BEHIND the male protagonists, but, yeah, a majority of those are “chainmail bikini” things.

      You go back to the Thirties, you find a whole bunch of female sword-and-sorcery protagonists, which makes you wonder just what happened in the Fifties. Robert E. Howard has, like, a half-dozen female swordswomen protagonists, C.L. Moore has JIREL OF JORY in 1934.

      For most of the 20th century, though, you had at least SOME female two-fisted and/or sword-wielding protagonists in your pulps, comics, and fantasy novels. Really, the Sad Puppies/Gamergate misogynistic thing is ahistorical.

      • Oh, I know them NOW (and some of them are either in my Read or To Read list 🙂 ), but they were not available in my native language before I learned English 😉

        Paladin is, however, referring very off-handedly, as if it were a common thing, to fairy tales, or at least a book of fairy tales she found in the years when she grew up, purportedly late 90s/early naughts, Children’s entertainment/literature was still very heavily gender-coded in our world.

        • Ian Osmond

          That’s what I was thinking about — in the English-speaking world, by the 90s-00s, and because of the work of people like Tammy Pierce in making sure that publishers knew that there WAS a market for female-led fantasy for young adults, it already was getting better. Tammy was working on changing the culture ever since she started writing, and before, and started getting some traction through the Eighties. By the time our heroes were pre-teens, there would have been at least some books for them with women in armor.

          I mean, the inequality in representation obviously still continues; Tamora Pierce still works on promoting works that can give young girls role models; the name of the comic we’re reading right now references a term in the same ongoing debate. I’m not saying that this stuff is solved.

          I’m just saying that, even in our world, statement like Paladin’s is plausible.

          • StClair

            Just so. Those of us who are even older – 40s and up – may need to adjust our expectations a little.

      • Catherine Kehl

        Let’s bring in some Pu Song Ling while we’re at it…

      • TheGonzoMD .

        Did the fifties see a drop in female characters in SF? It wouldn’t surprise me if it did because of the people after world war 2 rejecting a lot of the shit that made the 30s cool.

        I’d be more inclined to blame backlash against feminism in the 80s and SF becoming more mainstream and being homogenized after that.

  • Classtoise

    “Brutal, aristocratic murderers”

    And that’s why we had stuff like Chivalry and Bushido! I.e “Here’s a set of rules to NOT BE A DICK.”

    • weedgoku

      It was all rather arbitrary though and neither looked down on dudes who murdered villagers for having the gall to look at them with their filthy peasant eyes.

    • Except both those “codes” were little more than something to pay lip service to while opressing your underlings. It was basically the past version of the concept of “liberty” that is constantly touted by western nations even though they do everything they can do avoid having to adhere to it.

    • GreatWyrmGold

      Bushido wasn’t invented until the samurai was long dead. I think chivalry, or at least the modern idea of it, had a similar history.

      Of course, that doesn’t mean they didn’t have other rules about not being dicks, just not that one.

    • Even if those codes made them honorable (ha), that doesn’t change the truth of the definition. They murdered people in battle and as executions, they showed no remorse in massacring other soldiers and enemy peasants (brutal) and they were noblemen (aristocratic)

  • Spongegirl Circleskirt

    Looking up Paladin, now I understand Stephen King’s Dark Tower series much better now.

  • fairportfan

    Quite a few of those knights actually did live up to their ideals – simply due to statistical probabilities, if nothing else.

    • Mechwarrior

      There were some slave owners in 19th Century America who were kind to their slaves. That doesn’t make being a slave owner a good thing. European knights and Japanese samurai both were still people who were members of brutal warrior cultures.

      • UnsettlingIdeologies

        They were more than just part of those cultures. They pretty much defined those cultures. Knights and Samurai were often just mercenaries. They were private soldiers who helped got relatively rich by helping keep the filthy rich in power.

  • GreatWyrmGold

    I wouldn’t say knights, samurai, etc, were the worst. They’ve got a lot of competition.

    And to be perfectly fair, like any group of people, there were good and bad ones. There were knights and samurai that abused their power, massacred peasants, and killed their masters, but there were also loyal knights and samurai who tried to live up to the sort of ideals later generations imposed on them. And, of course, plenty of knights just trying to get through life in a dangerous profession while still being able to sleep at night.

  • Pol Subanajouy

    Man, now I want to see her in that armor. I bet she looked awesome.

  • Prodigal

    I love the look that Lisa gives Al just before she answers the question. It’s like she’s asking herself “How much truth can this girl handle right now?”

  • Because he used tactics that were deemed dishonorable, which we would have probably just called clever.

  • I want an armor room…