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    The Hero Discovered

    Story arc »

    The first chapter of Matt Wagner's re-telling of The King Arthur myth.

    Short summary describing this arc.

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    Edsel and Stanis
    Edsel and Stanis

    Kevin Matchstick was an ordinary guy until one night he came across a man dressed as a vagrant. Uncharacteristically he completely opened up to him, discussing personal philosophy, lovers, relatives, etc. The vagrant in question was the enigmatic World Mage Mirth, and he would soon change Kevin's life forever. Shortly after his meeting with Mirth, Kevin jumps in to defend a complete stranger that is being attacked by some kind of creature (which was later revealed to be a Grackleflint) and after a prolonged fight, he noticed that he took no damage. When Kevin returned home for the night, Mirth was waiting for him, and answered a few of his questions. When Kevin woke up the next day he wrote it all off as a dream until he was again attacked and thrown onto subway tracks only to be run over by a train. However, when he got back up he found his clothes torn to shreds but he had again taken no damage. Shaken, but relatively unharmed Kevin went to a diner where Mirth again appeared and teleported them to a skyscraper roof. Kevin freaked out, revealing that he was acrophobic. Mirth capitulated, and teleported them to a quiet nearby park. There he answered only a few more of Kevin's questions, specifically why Kevin got run over by a subway train and lived, yet could still get a splinter from a bench. Mirth explains that Kevin has super powers, but they only manifest when they're needed. Mirth then reveals that he can see visions, specifically visions involving people that are meant to help Kevin. Responding to Mirth's vision, they meet Edsel, who was being attacked by another Grackleflint. Kevin manages to fend off the monster and Edsel mysteriously bows before Kevin. Kevin rants, wondering whats going on and Mirth plays the incident off as simple confusion on her part. Kevin helps fix Edsel's car and the trio leave the scene. While they're in transit Mirth charms Edsel's bat but he's actually hiding it from Kevin. The bat is Kevin's weapon, but he's not ready to learn the truth of it yet. They go to an unused stadium to talk stuff out and Mirth fixes Kev's tattered clothing. Mirth reveals that the team's purpose is to prevent the dark forces from finding the Fisher King, the one thing that can set off the balance of good and evil. Kevin is still skeptical about all this and wonders what's really going on.

    Marhault Ogre
    Marhault Ogre

    While hiding out in the stadium the team is attacked again, this time by the Marhault Ogre. With Edsel's help Kevin is able to kill the beast, sending it back into the faerie realm from whence it came. Kevin reveals he has a crippling fear of killing after what happened to a dog that he had as a child. He also speaks of all the anger he has held back for years in order to keep himself in control. Mirth reassures him he needs to let loose and become the great warrior he's meant to be. Suddenly they hear police sirens responding to the disturbance. The team tries to escape but they are caught and Kevin is arrested. While he's in jail he tells the other inmates about his powers but when he tries to prove it to them it doesn't work. Mirth reappears and when Kevin asks about this, Mirth explains that he needs to be in the struggle for the powers to activate. The prison bars keep him from the fight. Kevin's powers activate and he escapes the jail cell. Mirth then shifts them onto a new plane and helps wipe the minds of anyone involved in the arrest along with all the physical data. While in this other realm they meet their next partner Sean Knight. Sean had somehow managed to shift onto the same plane as Kevin and Mirth, and they find him cowering behind a desk. The team gets attacked by a trio of Red Caps which Kevin quickly dispatches. Mirth reveals to Sean that he is a ghost and offers him a spot on the team which he accepts. They leave the police station, stopping to get Edsel, and the four of them head to Kevin's apartment. Shortly after they arrive, Kevin is attacked by a Leanhaun Sidhe. She charms Kevin to the point where he can't focus and attempts to drink his blood. Edsel jumps in at the last second and saves him.

    Stanis is captured
    Stanis is captured

    After they defeat the Leanhaun Sidhe they find Stanis Grackleflint spying on them. Mirth explains that Grackleflints have a weakness to water and he and Sean go into the bathroom to interrogate him. Stan cracks and tells them that the reason they are so easily tracked by the darkness is Mirth. The power of the World Mage is vast and easy to spot for those who know what they're looking for. The Grackleflint escapes with help from The Umbra Sprite. Kevin spots him driving away and jumps out of a three-story window to give chase, suddenly not quite so acrophobic. Kevin manages to steer the car off course but sends it careening into his apartment complex, burning it down. Mirth reveals that he is leaving to sequester himself in The Faerie Realms. Kevin feels angry and abandoned, and still holds on to his skepticism. Mirth promises Kevin that eventually he will believe.

    Caught by Rhiannon's Bane
    Caught by Rhiannon's Bane

    Five months later Kevin and the remaining team have managed to figure out how to attack the Grackleflints discreetly. They fight them four times and each time Kevin gets better, the fourth time he doesn't even need Edsel's help. After a fight with some more Red Caps, Edsel discovers a laundry ticket in a pair of pants left behind by a dispatched baddie. Sean investigates, and discovers that the pants are leased out to The Styx Casino, and picked up routinely by one of the quintuplet brothers who serve as the casino's pit bosses. The crew infiltrates the Styx and they split up to do recon work. The Umbra Sprite realizes that Kevin has entered his lair and tricks him into riding an elevator that knocks him out. When he wakes he is hanging over a bottomless pit.

    Emil gets ready to spur Kevin
    Emil gets ready to spur Kevin

    With Kevin at the Umbra Sprite's mercy he tries to get him to spill information but Kevin refuses. The rest of the team come in to help and Kevin manages to swing himself over to a platform to join in the fight. Realizing that they are ill prepared and outnumbered, the trio attempt to escape. Using one of the mystical passageways throughout the Styx, Emil Grackleflint manages to get ahead of the team and buries one of his venomous elbow spurs into Kevin's chest. The team escapes with an unconscious Kevin in tow, retreating to Sean's apartment. Not knowing what else to do, Edsel goes to retrieve Mirth. The World Mage reappears, and Edsel catches him up on current events. Sean is slain by the elder dragon Cromm Cruich while defending an unconscious and gravely wounded Kevin. Mirth and Edsel arrive in time to rescue Kevin, and Mirth spirits them all away to the faerie realms.

    Excalibur!
    Excalibur!

    Kevin awakens a year later in a world of pure magic. Mirth fills him in on what happened and they return to the real world. Edsel is killed upon their return by Kevin's former cell mate Rashem. Kevin beheads him using Edsel's bat. At Kevin's touch, the bat glows white, sparking with power. With his cloaking spell broken, Mirth reveals everything. He explains that he knew Edsel would be killed and that he would not be able to save her, that Kevin is actually the reincarnation of Arthur Pendragon, and that Edsel is in a way the Lady of the Lake. Mirth confesses that he didn't actually enchant Edsel's bat but rather hid its true power from Kevin because the bat was in fact Excalibur, and Kevin wasn't ready to accept what he was. Reeling from the death of his friend and this deluge of new knowledge, Kevin is initially resistant. He's mad at Mirth, and he denies his responsibility, refusing the bat. In the end though, Kevin cannot deny his responsibility, and he picks up the bat, ready to face his final showdown with the Umbra Sprite.

    Kevin and Mirth leave town
    Kevin and Mirth leave town

    Mirth and Kevin return to the Styx casino. Mirth explains that Kevin has to enter from the top because of the magical properties of the building. When Kevin enters the building he is barraged by Red Caps but manages to defeat them swiftly. He is then confronted by what appears to be his dead friends Edsel and Sean. At first he is tricked by their magic, but after Emil Grackleflint happens to finally find and (temporarily) kill the Fisher King, a burst of magical energy is released, and he manages to see through the glamour, realizing that it's actually a Leanhaun Sidhe and Piet Grackleflint. Kevin defeats them and moves on into the next room. Here he discovers the lair of the elder dragon Cromm Cruich. After a couple of meaningless blows and guards he lets the dragon eat him and tears it apart from the inside. After the dragon Kevin meets a giant who insists on unarmed wrestling. Kevin throws aside his bat and flips the giant down into the bottomless pit, ending the contest quickly. He then walks out onto the Pit platform and uses his strength to scale the wall. During his climb, shadows of dead people Kevin feels responsible for, with bodies of his pet dog he killed, criticize him, but he overcomes his guilt, destroying the shadows. Kevin finally makes it to the Umbra Sprite's chamber only to find him dead, a victim of Emil Grackleflint's wrath. Kevin exits the building and he and Mirth leave town in Edsel's car, ready to track down the evils that escaped the fall of the Styx Casino.

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