the origin of Marvel’s Limbo?

Limbo was originally St. Augustine’s solution to the thorny theological problem of where infants go who have been deprived of the sanctifying grace of baptism and yet have committed no personal sins. The dogmas of original sin and the necessity of baptism would seem to close the doors of heaven to them. Yet it seems inconsistent with everything we know about a loving and merciful God that these infants would suffer the usual punishments of hell, especially since they have committed no sins of their own. The only way medieval Catholic theologians could reconcile these truths was to posit the existence a third eternal destination for the unbaptised infants: Limbo.

Chris Claremont was the first writer at Marvel to acknowledge Limbo in this way, as an “edge” of Hell into which Colossus’s infant sister plunged…

scene of the infant Illyana Rasputin plunging through Limbo from New Mutants #73

…playing it like a demonic Wonderland with Illyana cast in the role of Alice.

Alice in Wonderland battling the demonic Jabberwocky

While plenty of heroes and villains experienced the existence of Hellish realms firsthand in the Marvel Universe, why would one of them NEED to bring about Limbo?

Recalling the theological reason for Limbo’s existence, I’d suggest it was brought about in direct response to concern for the fate of an unbaptised child. Any hero would have this concern if their faith told them this was where a babe would go after death.  That narrows it down to a hero who was also a devout Catholic.  The most notable practising Catholic in the Marvel Universe is Daredevil, who had a run in with Mephisto and his son Blackheart.

evidence of Matt Murdock's faith from Daredevil #282

However, nowhere during his run was he shown to have fathered a child, nor was he directly associated with parents who lost an infant child.  Plus his powers could not bring about another “dimension.”  It therefore seems reasonable to rule out Daredevil.

So who else?

Ever since Fantastic Four Annual #3 (1965), in which Reed and Sue are married by a clergyman of an unnamed denomination…

Fantastic Four Annual 3 Church Wedding

…sequences over the years have shown Susan Richards’ belief in God, including particularly for members of her team (i.e. her family)…

Sue praying from Fantastic Four #43

…or asking his forgiveness (such as in Fantastic Four #391).

Sue asking God's forgiveness and her belief in the sanctity of life from Fantastic Four #391

Mind you Reed was not exactly a shrinking violent when it came to acknowledging his own belief in a higher power either during the Lee & Kirby years (despite writers after that and before Waid assuming he was anything but religious).

Reed acknowledging a higher power from Fantastic Four #1 and #78 respectively

But I digress…

She tells her son Franklin that around Easter and Christmas she lights a candle at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the premier church of the Archdiocese of New York.

Sue in St Patrick's Cathedral, New York, from Marvel Holiday Special 2004 #1

So her rarely spoken of faith is revealed here as Catholicism.

It is this to which Adam Warlock’s emissary alludes in the “Infinity Crusade”.Invisible Woman from Infinity CrusadeJohnny Storm acknowledging his sister as a religious person in Infinity Crusade

This establishes her knowledge of the theory of Limbo, but what would make her want to create such a realm?

The answer I’d suggest is two-fold.

In Fantastic Four #276, Mephisto captures Reed and Susan, enraged at having lost his increased power due to the intervention of their son Franklin Richards.

Susan and Reed being kidnapped to Mephisto's Hell from Fantastic Four #276

In #277 he torments them both, but for some reason seems to take extra delight in doing so to Susan?!

Susan being tortured by Mephisto from Fantastic Four #277

Reed is conscious and defiant against Mephisto throughout his torment in this issue…

Reed Richards defiant at Mephisto's torture from Fantastic Four #277

…while Sue is a quivering, screaming mess and depicted as being at the Hell-lord’s mercy (in a manner totally unbecoming of Sue when facing a villain).

Sue depicted as a quivering, screaming mess at Mephisto's mercy from Fantastic Four #277

I would therefore suggest Mephisto singles out Susan due to her Catholic faith.

Still…

Okay, so what about her faith is Mephisto tormenting Susan for exactly?

It is worth noting that only a few issues earlier, in Fantastic Four #267, Susan “lost the child she was carrying”.

Sue's miscarriage from Fantastic Four #267

I would therefore propose that Mephisto, exploiting Susan’s faith, torments her with the thought that since she lost her child before it was baptised it would not go to Heaven. And although Sue was likely taught about Limbo as a young child when her aunt took her to church, the old doctrine was dismissed in the reforms of Vatican II, something Mephisto would eagerly remind her of, reiterating that her wide-ranging travels with the Fantastic Four had not happened upon the version espoused by her faith, so her unborn child would reach no such supposed haven.

Once Susan is free of Mephisto’s realm and the immediate terror she experienced, now surrounded by her family, she prays with every fibre of her being for her unborn child…

Sue praying from Fantastic Four #43

…and unconsciously folds space to create a pocket universe where it has a chance to escape the fate Mephisto has in store for it.

But how could the Invisible Woman create a pocket universe when her ability is to render herself wholly or partially invisible, the result of her being able to bend lightwaves away from her?

However, with the revelation during Tom DeFalco’s run that her energy seems to originate from a higher dimension of hyperspace…

Sue's power is revealed to originate from hyperspace from Fantastic Four #400Sue's power is revealed to originate from hyperspace from Fantastic Four #408

…I’d alternatively suggest Sue’s ability is more complex and what she actually does is to take a piece of hyperspace and fold it onto itself like a pocket and use it as a hiding place (anything inside the pocket is apparently almost invisible to sensors and the naked eye).

This ability initially manifests as the ability to render herself wholly or partially invisible, but when the fear that her unborn child will fall into the hands of the demon-lord Mephisto for the first time it shows a hint of its potential when she unconsciously accesses hyperspace as later theorised by Reed’s father, Nathaniel, and takes a piece of it, folding it onto itself to create a “pocket universe” to hide her unborn child in… but leaving an infinite number of access points so she can one day reach them (which manifest as the “stepping discs” which are part of the Limbo dimension).

And so, for the first time Susan demonstrates powers later shown by her son, Franklin, when he creates the pocket universe of Counter-Earth shown in the Heroes Reborn event to relocate the Fantastic Four and Avengers there to prevent their deaths at the hands of Onslaught. While Franklin’s power there was previously explained as a result of reality-warping abilities…

Franklin's power previously explained as a result of reality-warping abilities from Heroes Reborn The Return #1

…I’d instead suggest that as a mutant his latent ability to take a piece of hyperspace and fold it onto itself like a pocket was inherited from his mother, Susan.

Post-script:

Does Susan then make a deal with the Watcher to relocate his base to Limbo to watch over the child to ensure Mephisto doesn’t get her (where he is operating out of, instead of the Moon, in Strange Tales #134)?

Watcher acknowledging his base in Limbo from Strange Tales 134

But why would Uatu agree to break his oath of non-interference over this particular matter?

Well firstly I’d direct readers back to a particular scene in Fantastic Four where Uatu the Watcher becomes the first character in the Marvel Universe to not only refer explicitly to the Christian version of God, but acknowledge him as the most all-powerful being in the Marvel Universe.

Uatu acknowledging the Christian God as the most powerful entity in the Marvel Universe from Fantastic Four #72

With Uatu declaring himself a clear-cut Christian monotheist in the above scene, he would understand the gravity of Mephisto’s threat to Susan. That is, he would immediately interpret it as a direct threat against his deity by the Marvel Universe’s version of the Christian Devil. And given Susan is among the group of humans he has watched over more than any other on Earth, this event more than any other is the one he’d be most likely break his oath of non-interference over.

As for Mephisto, could all the other versions of Limbo we’ve seen have been the result of him plotting to undermine its integrity so he can abduct the child!?

Could this also be what the Celestial Messiah plot was all about?

That is, did the Watcher cause a star to appear over the Avengers Mansion (at the end of Avengers #128 as revealed in Captain Marvel #39)…

The Watcher causes a star to appear over Avengers Mansion at the start of the Celestial Madonna Saga in Avengers #128

…to put Kang off the trail of who the Celestial Madonna really was? To put the Conqueror off the fact that she was the member of another team… his team… the Fantastic Four!

Has the Celestial Madonna been Susan Richards all along?

And was the Celestial Messiah not of the human- and plant-world, but two other realms?

Now recall the revelation that Susan’s second child was a girl did not occur until years later in Fantastic Four Vol. 3 #22 (during Claremont’s run when we see the birth certificate which says the child was stillborn).

Susan's second child was a girl from Fantastic Four v3 22Susan's second child was a girl from Fantastic Four v3 22

However, in Fantastic Four #267 they’re still referring to it as “the unborn child” with no gender being stated for the remainder of Byrne’s run.

So what if it’s not Valeria Meghan Richards who was the second, child of Sue whom she had lost years before in Fantastic Four #267?

Then who else could she be?

Well I think to figure that out we need to consider what her powers were upon being first introduced, “neutralizing Franklin’s” as revealed in Fantastic Four volume 3 #29.

The purpose of Valeria's powers were to neutralise Franklin's

What purposes could these powers serve? Who more than Franklin, and more than his parents, is afraid of his power? Why Mephisto of course! Haven’t you been reading;)

Mephisto fears Franklin's power from Fantastic Four Annual #20

So what if Mephisto had made a bargain with Doctor Doom to create a clone derived of Sue’s DNA which he promised to release the soul of Victor’s lost love Valeria into? Having a being in Franklin’s constant vicinity, and what better way than through a “big sister”, that could negate his powers so he could finally obtain the boy’s long-sought-after soul!

Mephisto demonstrating his willingness to make a bargain with Doom in order to corrupt the soul of Franklin Richards from Fantastic Four Annaul #20

If so, what then of the spirit of Sue’s unborn child?!

Have we perhaps seen this “child” before?

Well let’s think about it for a moment. That is, recall my positing above that the spirit of Sue’s unborn child was transported to Limbo for its own protection! If so, “the child” is likely still there.

So which characters inhabiting Limbo could be likely candidates for this child?

Well we can rule out Magik, Illyana Rasputin, given she is the sister of Colossus of the X-Men.

Illyana Rasputin as then Sorceress Supreme of Limbo from Uncanny X-Men #231

It would seem similarly safe to rule out her previous master, demon-lord of Limbo, Belasco who allegedly started out as a sorcerer in 13th Century Florence, Italy.

Belasco started out as a sorcerer in 13th Century from Ka-Zar the Savage #12

Then there’s of course the self-proclaimed lord of Limbo, Immortus, who while revealed as a Richards, originates from the Fantastic Four’s future, not their present (or recent past).

Immortus, proclaiming himself lord of Limbo in Avengers 131

Then of course there’s the Watcher who I noted above as also operating from Limbo in Strange Tales #134 (and earlier threatening to transport the Red Ghost there in Fantastic Four #13).

Watcher also has base of operations in Limbo from Fantastic Four 13

But Uatu can be ruled out as he wasn’t ever trapped there, given he also had as his home the Blue Area of the Moon.

So who does that leave us with? Well a character first introduced in Avengers #2 who in fact was the first character to make reference to Limbo in the modern Marvel Universe, Space Phantom!

Modern Marvel's first character to make reference to Limbo from Avengers #2

While the character was later revealed, in Thor #281, as being from the planet Phantus and from a species that had mastered the intricacies of time travel long before they had attempted space travel (cf. Thor #281)…

The planet Phantus from Thor 281

…then later again had this retconned to reveal in Avengers Forever #8 that beings who get trapped in Limbo slowly forget their previous existence and turn into Space Phantoms.

Retcon that Space Phantoms are beings who get trapped in Limbo and forget their previous existence from Avengers Forever 8

However, given the story in Thor #281 was revealed to be an illusion generated by Immortus, and the whole conceit of Avengers Forever miniseries being a plot generated by the self-same villain, it’s totally conceivable that the more recent Space Phantom revelation is just another of his manipulated schemes.

I’d therefore posit that perhaps there’s more to the Space Phantom’s name than we have previously ascribed. What if he is literally a phantom – the insubstantial remnant of a once-living being? And why a Space Phantom? As opposed to a Time Phantom (particularly when his power is to displace people to a temporal dimension such as Limbo and take their place)? A Relative Dimensions Phantom?

So if we establish the Phantom was a once-living being, the next question is why a “Space” Phantom?

Well if he is the child Susan was carrying that she lost, which I’m proposing here, I’d posit the “SPACE” part of his name derives from the fact that like his mother, he can generate and control a form of energy from hyperSPACE!

And the reason he has to swap places with others is because when Susan unconsciously created Limbo she did so that her child would be “bound” to it in order to protect them from Mephisto (and all the attempted demonic incursions have been about trying to weaken the protective barrier).

But over time he comes to learn that his inherited abilities to access hyperspace enable him to fold another’s physical projection around him (as Plok puts it, copying their “hyperspatial imprint”:), causing them to suddenly end up with his form, thereby tricking Limbo and thereby displacing them and enabling him to temporarily escape its protective “prison”.

Modern Marvel's first character to make reference to Limbo from Avengers #2

The logical corollary of this being that Limbo doesn’t cause those who get trapped to forget their previous existence and turn into Space Phantoms (as suggested in Avengers Forever #8), but rather Space Phantom’s folding of himself out of Limbo and folding of them there in his place!

But how can all this be when Space Phantom in Avengers #2 refers to his “people” invading Earth?

Space Phantom reveals his plans to enable his people to invade Earth from Avengers #2

Well, there’s nothing to say his “people” are necessarily of his original race! That is, if he is an unborn child that has not had the opportunity at a real life, and Limbo ends up becoming the place for other unborn children (to protect them from Mephisto), these other “ghosts” become his community. And not knowing the reason why they are in Limbo in the first place, they perceive it as a prison from which they most desperately want to escape from…

…and see Earth from Limbo…

…while at the same time realising Space Phantom has the ability to access hyperspace to temporarily escape…

…so task him with becoming the advance scout for their “race”, an invasion force from Limbo intent on conquering Earth.

Acknowledgements: Once again there are a series of thank yous I need to make whom without this post would not have been anything more than a pipe-dream: So without further ado, thanks to Richard Bensam of Estoreal for reviewing my initial draft, fnord12 of the Marvel Comics Chronology, Ancient One and thjan of Alvaro’s Comic Book Message Boards for tracking down some hard to obtain images, Chris Tolworthy of zak-site.com and world’s foremost authority on the Fantastic Four and Plok of A Trout in the Milk for their van Vogtian assistance in helping me explain the science fiction implications of theoretical physics:)

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…Marvel’s Merlin?

Back in the early days of their pro-hood, Gruenwald, Macchio, Peter  Sanderson, Steven Grant and a few others set about some housecleaning, and one of the things they did was the two part Thor story which made the Space Phantom’s Limbo the same as Immortus’s Limbo (one thing I recall fondly about this story was Keith Pollard’s visual reference to Escher for the idea of Immortus’s palace).

So I sympathise with trying to clean up Merlin. Roy was terribly hungry to be able to tap into the Arthurian thing, and with his meticulous nature, he quickly got rid of the painful Mad Merlin story from the clumsy birth of the Thor strip. (It’s useful, considering that he ended up writing everything, to look at X-Men, starting with #20, as Roy’s first regular strip.  The Moldy Villain’s League was positively Gruenwaldian, the Kukulcán stories betrayed his archaeological bent – and then there was X-Men #30, starring the Warlock, cleaning up the Arthurian plate.

I think it was an unspoken assumption, never acted upon, that Merlin was Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme of that period.  I reckon this is what Peter Gillis was going for as well, since at the tail end of his stint on Doctor Strange, he was starting his own arthurian-themed storyline-and-maybe-strip, the Dragon Circle. He referred to the title Pendragon as a mystic office, an idea I suspect he lifted from C.S. Lewis (That Hideous Strength).  He created a Welsh professor, Dafydd ap Iorwerth, who, unknown to himself, was Earth’s then current Pendragon.  Of course, this all died aborning, but the Dragon Circle, consisting of the non-X-Men members of the Defenders gathered around the Pendragon, appeared to be creating a sort of legacy from a previous Sorcerer Supreme, with Dr. Strange.

Nevertheless, Marvel’s Merlin is a bizarre amalgam of all kinds of other sources, and I guess one of them is T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King” where the wizard lives backwards through time (the implication being that Merlin might actually be T.H. White himself). However, while White’s work is charming, philosophical and wise – and living backwards is a swell conceit – there’s absolutely no ‘why’ to White’s Merlin at all.  Don’t get me wrong, I love T.H. White’s Arthur books, but a more Marvel-ish vision is Lewis’s, with a larger context – and even a daring continuity link to Middle Earth.

With Chris Claremont having revealed in more recent years, in his Excalibur: Die by the Sword mini-series, that Mad Jim Jaspers was merely a tool enabling Merlyn to accomplish his goals, combined with the fact combined with the fact that his Crazy Gang were derived from “Alice in Wonderland”, it is interesting to note that Immortus, self-styled Master of Limbo, often used characters from history, mythology and literature to create his armies. Then recalling that Belasco’s Limbo was also referred to as Otherworld at times, the same “nom de plume” as Merlyn and Roma’s realm, this would all seem to suggest that Merlyn is an older incarnation of Immortus.

So my idea here is that the manipulative, amoral Merlyn from Captain Britain and Excalibur could easily be Immortus, and here’s why:

1. He operates from a “nexus point” which has a special position in the multiverse – much as Limbo does;

2. He deletes realities which present a danger to him;

3. He often chooses to work through 20th century Marvel-Earth heroes;

4. He uses time travel;

5. He has faked his death before now, just like Immortus has;

6. He is a scholar by nature; and

7. He may have had something to do with the rather special bit of time where Camelot happened outside regular history – surely an Immortus plot if ever there was one.

********

Mind you, if Merlin is Immortus, it raises interesting questions about where his daughter comes from.

I don’t necessarily think Ravonna is the mother, though!

Remember that there is only ONE Immortus, not lots of divergent ones. At some point the one Immortus hooks up with Ravonna.  At some point he has a short-lived son Marcus, by an unspecified mother, and Marcus has to get himself reborn by impregnating Carol Danvers for reasons which are never fully explained but seem to do with Immortus “dying”.

However, if one needs a candidate for Merlin’s daughter, my first choice would be Nimue, the Lady of the Lake and Mistress of Avalon.  Of course, there’s always the possibility that the Lady who gave Dane his sword IS Roma’s mother, or Roma herself.  Roma has been known to be attracted to handsome, swashbuckling, rule-breaking heroes before.

We may have to assume that there are various alternate-timeline Camelots around too.  Apart from the various dramatically different versions of Arthur and his knights, and the three Merlins, it is hard to reconcile the legendary Matter of Britain even with itself let alone the Iron Man, Torch/ Thing, Black Knight, Dr Doom, Bizarre Adventures and other Marvel versions.  We also have to explain the fact that it never actually happened in history, so Dane is claiming descent from a mythical ancestor anyway.

It would be interesting to see Dane tied in to Morgan’s family tree, but I suspect she would have commented on it in some way in Avengers #1-3 if it was so.  After all, Dane would have made a much better lieutenant than her nephew Mordred.

My own preferred explanation would be that during “the Enchantment of Britain”, the time between the wounding of the Grail King and Arthur’s final battle at Camlaan, there was effectively a divergent timeline where all this Arthur stuff happened, and there were divergences from that in the usual Marvel way when time-travellers appear from the future which explain all the various Camelot visits.  Clearly those days, although expurgated from history (an Immortus trick if ever there was one) still case echoes.  The Black Knight seems to be one of them.

Quick summary of the three Merlins according to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe, by the way: #1 was allegedly the demon-sired son of the princess of Dyfed, (as described by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his History of the Kings of Britain around the 12th century).  #2 was a psionic mutant impostor from the dawn of time who wielded a fragment of the Bloodstone Gem.  This one was exposed by Sersi (!), and placed in suspended animation by the real Merlin.  This is the guy who battled Thor in Journey into Mystery, and later became the Maha Yogi who plagued the X-Men and Hulk.  #3 was the Otherworldly master of deception (who may or many not be the same as #1) who imbued Captain Britain with powers (and indeed ALL Captain Britains in all the realities they exist in), was the father of Roma, Goddess of the Northern Skies, and plays with time.

Captain Britain’s Merlin also operates from the Otherworld, a strange nexus place (not to be confused with the Man-Thing’s nexus, of course; this one focuses on Brian Braddock’s lighthouse).  If Merlin is Immortus, is the Otherworld really Limbo?

This further makes the fact that Merlin was one of the Space Phantom/ Dire Wraith champions of Immortus in Avengers #10 more fun, too!

Then there’s that other Arthurian Immortus sighting in STRANGE TALES #134 vol.1:

In this issue Kang has, as I mentioned, gone to conquer Camelot. He begins by first imprisoning Merlin, Arthur’s “secret weapon”.

He then defeats knight after knight in a jousting competition, until he is made King. Arthur and his faithful are then sent into exile.

Kang then assembles an army and prepares to sweep it across the Earth.

Back in the 20th Century, The Watcher appears to the Thing and the Human Torch and informs them of what has transpired. He then enlists their aid to come back into time to defeat Kang. They agree.

He then informs them:

“The method I shall use to send you back into time is totally alien to you that there are no words with which I can describe it! But let us join hands – -”

The Watcher then has the two FF members hold hands with him and they begin to do a slow fade, he continues as this occurs:

“You shall travel to the days of King Arthur without me, for there is no reason for me to join you! My power is such that I can observe all that transpires no matter WHICH age I find myself in! Thus I shall remain in LIMBO — silently watching, and waiting to RETURN you to the present — IF YOU SURVIVE!”

The due does defeat Kang, but only by first freeing Merlin, and the “Watcher” then appears to return them quickly home.

–END–

Ok, innocent enough.  BUT, in the Kang History presented in THOR ANNUAL #17 (part 2 of CITIZEN KANG) Kang reflects on this adventure, and says:

“Soon the legendary CAMELOT was mine! I planned to CREATE an ALTERNATE reality in which MY Britain would CONQUER the GLOBE and SUPER HEROES would NEVER arise! Acting OUT of CHARACTER, UATU the Watcher enlisted the THING and HUMAN TORCH to STOP me…but WAS he UATU? He CLAIMED he was BASED in LIMBO…the REALM OF IMMORTUS!”

So, what do you think? Kang thinks it’s Immortus pretending to be Uatu.

(Making his “LIMBO” remark a slip of the tongue – which Kang must have viewed later in one of his Chrono-viewers)

Immortus doesn’t need to stop Kang here.  It’s a divergent reality after all.  But possibly…quite possibly… the Merlin from this era is important somehow and needed freeing.

Maybe Merlin created the Forever Crystal…

Maybe…

Postscript: Despite previous suggestions, I have come up with something better than having the Ebony Blade be Excalibur in disguise too (and I can see somebody eagerly doing a story which does just that). I’ll steal from another SF/ Fantasy writer, Fred Saberhagen, and posit something like the existence of Twelve Great Swords, scattered throughout infinity. Dormant, they can be almost anywhere, but activated by a person of power, they can do great things. Excalibur is one, Stormbringer another, Mournblade a third, and Andúril yet another. (and maybe the Odinsword still another.) They are entities on their own, and the activation never ends well.

Arthur is dead, the Round Table broken. Excalibur ultimately worked its doom upon Arthur, and the Lady of the Lake had taken both the body of Arthur and the sword Excalibur which, the bond now broken, is once again inert.

Despite all the tragedy, Merlin’s greater purpose was fulfilled: the Flame of the West would not be extinguished: though Rome had failed and would not be restored, civilization, the Celts would keep learning alive while Europe plunged into darkness, and the legend of Camelot would keep civilised men dedicated where the more savage and ugly history of Rome would not. the chain of light that stretched back to Númenor would not go dark.

But, as his time was going to end soon, he had to make sure the west still had supernatural defences. and so Merlin, in one of his last magical acts, brought from elsewhere another of the Great Swords.  Maybe Stormbringer, maybe another whose name only the Wise know. He sealed it in its inertness, and gave it to the utterly loyal Sir Percy of Scandia and his heirs to keep.

Sir Percy was a valiant but ordinary knight: the Ebony Blade would never come to life in his hands, or any of his descendants. The line of the Black Knights would stand eternally ready – ready to hand the blade to the one who needed it.

It is said that the grandson of Sir Percy gave it to Roland, who christened it Durendal (a mental echo of Andúril?) and fought the battle that ensured Europe would not be a branch of a Muslim Empire.  It is also said that the power of the awakened sword killed Roland as surely as if it had slit his throat. saddened, the Black Knight of that era took back the Ebony Blade, which fell asleep in his hand.

It began to look as if the Blade might be needed again in World War II, when Hitler found the Spear of Longinus. This awoke the Blade enough to bring the line of Sandia out of their long sleep. However, the latest heir, Dane Whitman, seemed to have lost the critical faculty of inertness with respect to the blade. His mission was to keep it safe, and he was awakening it instead.

The solution was to give it to Brunnhilde the Valkyrie. Now whether the Lady Of The Lake was in fact of the Valkyrior, or whether they just practiced the same craft, the Ebony Blade was calmed by Brunnhilde’s handling in the same way that the Lady brought Excalibur to rest while they took the hero Arthur to his reward. After a time, she gave Dane Whitman back the blade, judging that he would be able to handle it now.

Doesn’t fit everything in, probably, and there’s a lot of recent stuff I’m completely unaware of. But it’s pretty good, eh?