I know I’ve been doing a lot of DC heroes in this weekly column of late, but there is a reason for it. And that reason isn’t just because Watson reads these every week and he’s a DC fan. It’s because I believe that DC, unlike Marvel, actually does a good job of keeping its non-superhero characters around. As I see it, Marvel is basically all superheroes these days. DC has other heroes and they do trot them out once in a while, even connecting them to the superhero universe as much as possible.
For a good example of that, let’s look at the Silent Knight.
There’s not a whole lot to the Silent Knight. If anything, his name pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the guy. He’s a knight and he doesn’t talk. He doesn’t have any special powers. He’s just good at all the stuff you’d expect a knight to be good at. He had adventures dealing with King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
So, why mention him at all? Well, for one, DC will bring the guy out of the proverbial mothballs once in a while. And while the character may not be the most interesting at first glance, he’s got a lot going for him. For starters, he was among three historically-based characters to appear in the first issue of The Brave and the Bold in August, 1955. The other two were the Golden Gladiator and the Viking Prince.
Keep in mind, most comics historian types will say the Silver Age of comics started with the first appearance of the Barry Allen Flash. That was in the October, 1956 issue of Showcase a little over a year later.
As it is, the Silent Knight had a lot in common with later superheroes. For one thing, he had a secret identity. He wasn’t given the name “Silent Knight” at birth or anything like that. His real name was Sir Brian Kent. His father died in a jousting tournament at the hands of an evil knight, and as he was dying, he urged his son to continue to care for the people. Unfortunately, his father’s killer, Sir Oswald, overheard the dying man and gave the boy a trainer. Brian was no dummy and knew if he was too good, Sir Oswald would kill him. So, he put on a suit of armor that covered his face and didn’t speak.
The disguise worked. Like a certain mild-mannered reporter, most people assumed Sir Brian was a harmless oaf.
That included the woman Brian loved, one Lady Celia. And like many later superheroes, Lady Celia loved the Silent Knight and loathed the actual man in the suit.
But there’s a bit more there connecting the Silent Knight to superheroes adventuring in the modern day. Silent Knight actually has direct connections to two. In one case, that “Kent” name is no coincidence. One of his descendants would be Jonathan Kent, and everyone knows that guy’s adopted son.
But as for the other, well, Hawkman Carter Hall says he was Brian Kent in a past life. The hawk motif on his armor is the sign there.
Say, does this mean Superman should invite Carter over for Thanksgiving?
Anyway, Silent Knight: he’s not a character who has done a lot, but he may be one of the forerunners of the DC Silver Age hero. I think that’s worth mentioning if nothing else.