Is that an image of a knight lancing a submarine underwater on his winged horse? Yes it is, do I have your attention? A medieval knight who fights crime on a winged horse in present day thanks to magic, what a wonderful concept. Who is this ancient man (and later woman) that comes from time long passed to protect mankind from evil? Let’s find out.
The first Shining Knight was a man named Sir Justin, the youngest and newest member of King Arthur’s Court. No sooner had he joined the team than did Lady Guinevere’s cousin, Sir Falon, get murdered by some horrid thing, and Sir Justin made it his duty to solve the case and take vengeance on the murderer. On his way, Sir Justin finds the wizard Merlin trapped in a tree and rescues him. In a Dungeons and Dragons style thanks, Merlin grants Sir Justin indestructible, shining gold armor; an indestructible sword that can cut through anything; and grants his horse Victory flight and invulnerability. That’s a great haul, and shortly after getting it he finds Falon’s killer, an ogre. While he handily defeats the creature, its last attack locks Sir Justin and Victory in an avalanche, trapping them in ice. Suspended animation from a mission? Captain America and Sir Justin could start a club.
Centuries later, Sir Justin and Victory would be released from their prison and help fight crime in the present (at the time of his origin that would be 1941). Taking on the modern name of Justin Arthur, he began fighting crime, eventually teaming with six other heroes of the time – Green Arrow, Speedy, Star-Spangled Kid, Stripesy, Crimson Avenger, and Vigilante – to become the Seven Soldiers of Victory (I don’t think it was named after the horse, sadly).
Sir Justin would also join the All-Star Squadron and become involved in a time-traveling plot by Per Degaton to change the effect of the Pearl Harbor bombings. Sir Justin would aid in stopping this from happening, and go on to be Winston Churchill’s bodyguard. The man from medieval times with the flying horse would go on to protect Winston Churchill, gotta love comics.
Sir Justin had a tendency to get even more time-tossed than he already was, and would end up fighting the Dragon King with the Seven Soldiers and get shunted in time yet again. This time he’d find himself with no memory and working with Genghis Khan. Eventually the JLA would rescue him and the other Soldiers. With his memory back, the Seven Soldiers were able to stop the Dragon King, and Sir Justin got an armor upgrade in the form of a transforming technological armor.
In a Camelot from even further back in time, from a different mythological time, 8000 B.C.E. to be exact (as opposed to Sir Justin’s 6th Century Camelot) there is another Justin, or, well, Ystin (they are also way more Welsh and Celtic in this version). This Camelot shows that some form of Camelot will always show up as it is an archetype, and that Sir Justin is just one of several iterations of it.
Ystin, as it turns out, is actually Ystina who has been masquerading as a man to become a knight working for Sir Galahad, just before the fall of Camelot. She and her winged horse, Vanguard, would end up battling with the Sheeda-Queen (the Sheeda are a post-human race from the future). It turns out that the Sheeda-Queen stole Excalibur, and when Ystina gets it back and flees, she finds herself no longer in Camelot, but modern day Los Angeles.
Ystina is confronted by a Sheeda creature known as Guilt (subtle), that informs her that when she disappeared, the Sheeda were able to overthrow Camelot and allow the dreaded Mordredd to rule, and many other nations fell in the wake of Camelot’s ruin. Ystina stops a crime in progress, and with it goes Guilt. She goes to the police, and eventually gets aid from a metahuman expert and another expert in pre-Atlantian cultures. It’s revealed that the pre-Atlantian expert is actually the Sheeda-Queen, who takes Ystina back to her castle.
Imprisoned, Ystina learns that Galahad is still breathing, but hardly alive as he is now a mindless beast. The Sheeda-Queen pits mentor versus student, and during the battle learns of Ystina actually being a woman, and that she loves Galahad. Commanding Galahad to destroy Ystina’s spirit and bring her over to their side is enough to let Ystina overcome the loss of the Galahad she knew, and kill him in mercy while vowing vengeance on the queen.
Eventually, Ystina makes her way back to freedom and is open with who she is in the 21st century. While at school, she learns of a queen named Ystina the Good who aided in bringing the world back from the brink of destruction from shortly after she left. It is possible that this is Ystina’s future, thus making her the once and future queen.
While in present day, Ystina would fight the Riddler, chase off an invitation to join the Teen Titans (Kid Devil came to invite her and she thought he was a demon come to kill her), and fight Black Adam. Eventually, she’d find herself in the Dark Ages working with Jason Blood (Etrigan the Demon’s human half), Madame Xanadu, and Vandal Savage, where they would go on to fight threats of the time period.
Adventure Comics #66
Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight #1
Seven Soldiers of Victory
Justice League Unlimited