Hello, my friends. Halloween is upon us, just like how the darkness is nearing Camelot. As such, we’ve reached the next issue of a four-part mini-series called…
So far, Dracula averted the Turkish Army and accepted an offer from Lucifer to rebuild his empire while having dark and incredible powers. As such, he’s reborn in Medieval Times as a vampire and slowly builds his new armada, starting with the sorceress Morgana and her son Mordred. Meanwhile, King Arthur is instructed by God to find the Holy Grail before it fall into evil hands. So, he sets out with a small group of knights and leaves Lancelot to guard his kingdom. However, Queen Guinevere is weary of her husband leaving her side. Just then, Mordred distracts Lancelot while his men kidnap her. After she’s brought forth to Dracula, he gives her a false promise before turning her into a vampire. After Arthur learns about the Holy Grail, an attack by a giant bat causes him to lose Excalibur. Meanwhile, Lancelot hastily rushes off to save his queen. However, he discovers that Dracula has the fabled sword while the newly-turned Guinevere ends up making him a vampire as well. With that said, let’s cross the halfway point and see how our king handles his situation in Chapter 3: The Black Knight.
Issue 3 opens with Amide catching up to our knights as she gives Arthur the urgent message about the “noctural threat” to his greater kingdom. After the king takes off towards his castle, Percival feels that they need to find the Holy Grail as soon as possible. Galahad suggests that they split up in order to cover more ground. He and Bors will head towards the West while Percival and Amide head to the East.
Meanwhile, the remaining Knights of the Round Table are tending to a village that’s engulfed in flames. As Sir Lamorak helps the innocent civilians flee, he learns from Sir Kay that they’re surrounded by their enemy and that several citizens have been taken. Just then, they’re confronted by a dark figure on horseback. The opposing warrior reveals himself as the Black Knight who tells his foe that they can’t win and that he has come for blood. Lamorak stands his ground by proudly stating his family heritage and that his blood isn’t for the taking. From there, the Black Knight sends his demon warriors into battle.
Fortunately, Lamorak is more than capable of handling his own as he brutally defeats the opposing soldiers. However, more of them arrive in the form of a gigantic army. With the Black Knight looming over and preparing to charge, Lamorak yells at Kay to fall back towards the church.
They manage to get inside and close the doors when they suddenly see the Black Knight and his army not attempting to follow after them. Kay wonders why as Lamorak assumes that since they’re in a place of worship, it’s able to safeguard them from this specific foe. As such, the scene ends with them waiting until sunrise until they can safely leave.
Later, Arthur returns to Camelot where he meets up with Merlin and his knight, Sir Ector. He learns that Merlin sent the knights out to deal with the attacks on the nearby villages, but the outcome was met with casualty as Sir Gareth and Sir Gaheris were slain in battle. Not only that, but Sir Gawain found his killed brothers drained of their blood. As if that wasn’t enough bad news for King Arthur, he learns that his wife was taken to Tintagel Castle and Lancelot left to go rescue her. Upon hearing the news, he blames himself for not staying in his castle in order to guard his wife. However, Merlin says that he shouldn’t blame himself since he was only fulfilling his duty to God and his people.
Meanwhile, Percival and Amide arrive at a cottage just as the morning arrives in order to see if they can acquire some food. Amide peaks inside to see if anyone is home, but Percival gets a bad feeling about their situation. Unfortunately, it turns out that he was right as the residents were the family whose son was bitten in the neck before he ended up turning them. Now, they lunge at Amide and start to drink her blood.
As Percival attempts to rush to her aid, the fourth blood-thirsty family member lunges at him as they land outside. With the morning sun’s light being cast upon the land, Percival suddenly sees his attacker burn up in the glow and explode. From there, he rushes back inside and attacks the family as he manages to get Amide’s bloodied body out.
Shortly afterwards, Lamorak arrives as he hears about what just happened. After learning about the vampire family’s weakness to sunlight, he proceeds to deal with them himself.
Over at Camelot, Arthur is prepped for combat as he wishes to save both Guinevere and Lancelot. However, Merlin tells him that they’re both lost to their newfound enemy and that Camelot deserves his attention. Arthur agrees, since Merlin states that the truthfulness in his heart is why he was able to pull the sword out of the stone. Despite the fact that Excalibur currently resides with Dracula, the fabled wizard tells his king that his “qualities” can never be taken. Afterwards, Arthur tells Ector that they’re going to stay and protect Camelot while Merlin continues to search for any key weakness from their enemy. Just then, they hear the horn sound as they learn about an enemy attack.
After learning that a nearby village is under attack, Arthur tells his knights that they’re not going to stand by any more and that they’re going to “take the fight to them”. As such, they depart from Camelot in order to engage their enemy. When they arrive however, they see the Black Knight and his demonic army burning the village and slaughtering the innocent civilians.
As the noble knights approach, the Black Knight tells his demonic soldiers that Arthur must be kept alive before one of them gives him a female hostage. Our noble king demands to let the innocent woman go, but the Black Knight ends up slitting her throat as a demonstration of his power. After Arthur declares that he’ll fight until his “last breath”, two figures proceed to tangle against each other.
While the Knights of the Round Table engage against the demonic beings, Arthur and the Black Knight have their fight. Our noble king gets knocked off his horse as he discovers that the Black Knight’s “parry” seems somewhat similar to him. After being taunted about losing Excalibur, Arthur manages to score a bloodied slash onto his foe’s poorly-armored midsection. However, the Black Knight quickly recovers and retaliates with a vicious backhand.
As several knights end up getting slaughtered, all hope seems to be lost. Just then, Lamorak arrives and reinvigorates the noble warriors by reminding them to decapitate their foes. However, the newfound resurgence was short-lived as the demonic warriors resume their massacre. Meanwhile, the Black Knight drags King Arthur as he declares that Camelot has fallen.
Kay and the knights see their captured king as they try to save him. Arthur tries to warn his men, but it’s too late as the demonic warriors proceed to mutilate them. With the battle in their favor, the Black Knight orders for his army to head out as he drags the noble king into the horse carriage and proceed to escape. Later, Lamorak arrives back at Camelot as he tells Merlin of the bad news. He has also brought Amide’s bloodied body back as well. He explains that her brother Percival has continued on his quest to find the Holy Grail while Amide’s body is covered up due to her burning up in the sun. Merlin realizes the sunlight as a key factor in ridding the vampire menace as he order Lamorak to bring her body to his lab so that she can be examined in order to investigate any further weaknesses.
Meanwhile, Arthur and Kay are brought to Tintagel Castle where our noble king is not only surprised to see that Morgana is alongside Dracula, but is horrified to see that his wife Guinevere is also with the Prince of Darkness. The Black Knight comes in and orders for the two captive men to kneel, but Kay refuses. As such, he’s brought before Dracula and is compared to his brothers, more specifically the one that sold him out to the Turkish Army. As such, he orders the Black Knight to kill him, which he proceeds to do with a bloodied THWAK to his neck. A tormented Arthur shames Dracula for the “lunacy” on display, but the Prince of Darkness responds via hypnotism that he can end his pain and reunite him with his wife by doing one simple task: pledge loyalty to him.
Fortunately, Arthur resists the urge to join him. However, Dracula reveals even more bad news to him. Bors and Galahad, both of whom were originally on the quest for the Holy Grail, were turned into vampires by the Black Knight after he found them. From there, the fierce warrior takes off his helmet as Lancelot reveals himself to his former king. From there, he proceeds to beat up Arthur while Mordred looks on and promises to be the one who ultimately kills his father. Shortly afterwards, Dracula breaks the scuffle up.
From there, the guards drag Arthur away while he blames his once-faithful knight for turning on him. And so, Issue 3 ends with Lancelot asking why he’s not killing the king immediately. Dracula explains that he wants Arthur to see his kingdom crumble and forever lose the loyalty of his people. Only then will the noble king be completely broken.
Arthur’s personal hero’s journey is now mostly complete. As if losing his queen, his most loyal knight and his famous sword to Dracula wasn’t enough of a blow, then having his remaining knights either slaughtered or turned into vampires and ending up as the Prince of Darkness’ prisoner has completed his own descent into a personal hell. It becomes clear in this issue that King Arthur has a character arc where he must overcome his doubts and faults in order to personally rise above this brand of evil. Thankfully, Merlin and Lamorak (the latter of whom got a lot to do in this issue) are serving as his ace-in-the-hole since they’re hard at work in finding out how to vanquish Dracula once and for all. The artwork is once again solid, though it manages to mostly use gradient backgrounds to better effect. The scenes of burning villages use the effect really well since they create tense atmospheres. It’s also handled well on impact panels, mainly when someone’s getting dismembered or attacking. Other than that, there’s not much to complain about and it’s setting up for a grand finale.
Overall, this is an engaging penultimate chapter. The action was engaging, the story was simple to follow yet kept me interested and Arthur’s plight was heartfelt enough to make me feel sorry for him. It places our king at his lowest point, yet leaves some X-Factors out of harm’s way in order for some hope to come and help him out. How will Arthur dig his way out of this mess? How can the king of Camelot hope to overcome a vicious vampire army? What’s a ruler to do against the legendary vampire? Find out on Halloween as we plunge into the final issue for the grand conclusion. Until then, see you around the C-Cubed!