Today's challenge topic: Byzantine empire. Super Hero adventure.
Disclaimer: I know nothing of the Byzantine Empire except what I vaguely remember from 10th grade religion class. The guy who picked today's topic, he's a bastard.
The year is 1304 since the founding of Rome. A new calendar, in place by Imperial decree, tells us it's 550 A.D. The strength of the Roman Empire lies in the capitol of Constantinople. More specifically, in the person of Justinian I, Emperor.
Callinicus Leonides was born the son of a soldier. As he grew into manhood he developed speed, strength and stamina that far outstripped even the most accomplished of Imperial champions. By his eighteenth summer he could pull a weight it took a dozen oxen to move. Blows from a gladius would glance harmlessly off of his skin, and wounds from arrows would heal seemingly overnight. Callinicus could run the distance of the marathon in less than the passing of an hour.
His father Leontius, a proud Graekos, was not enamored of Christianity and it's hold over his lands. He viewed his son's talents as gifts from the Hellenic gods themselves and suspected that the Empire would treat his son with suspicion and fear. It was for this reason that he encouraged Callinicus to hide his gifts and not draw attention to himself.
Justinian I, driven by the singular purpose of restoring the former glory of the Roman Empire. Juntinian is god on earth, the most powerful man alive.
General Flavius Belisarius, tactical genius with a knack for being out manned and under supported yet still being able to seize victory. Perhaps he's got some help?
Nonnus, epic poet and chronicler of the tales of Gods and Heroes. Nonnus will follow Callinicus around and comment on the story.
John Philoponus, philosopher of Alexandria. He's the wise old man, offering council even when it's not asked for.
Eusebia, a Gryphon who takes Callinicus under her wing. She's one of the last of her kind and is more than a little bitter over the fact. Eusebia and John often give Callinicus conflicting advice.
Vandals, a shadow of their former power. However, a broken people can still bite.
Ostrogoths, Germanic conquerors of Italy and their commander Totila. He's Belisarius' greatest adversary.
Sclaveni, Slavic raiders into Imperial lands.
The series follows Callinicus in true Joseph Campbell style from his days as a youth in the streets of Constantinople through his tutelage under first his father and then John Philoponus, until he takes his place as the favored weapon and secret champion of General Belisarius. Along the way he'll run into all sorts of Byzantine Age craziness (precursor of Silver Age craziness) balanced against the battles and intrigue of what will become known as the Byzantine Empire.
Callinicus will not always be a hero, occasionally falling in with pirates, Persians and cutthroats. His story will take him to the edges of the Roman Empire. To some he'll be a demi-god. Others will call him a champion. Even the church will, for a time, consider Callinicus the "Sword from Heaven", sent by God to strike down it's enemies.
Fourteen hundred years before superheroes there was a super hero.
PAGE 1, PANEL 1. ANCHORED NOT FAR FROM THE ROCKY SHORES OF THE CASPIAN IS A PERSIAN VESSEL. A ROW BOAT IS UP ON THE ROCKS, WATCHED OVER BY SLAVES AND SOLDIERS. WALKING THE SHORE IS A PERSIAN OFFICER. HE'S HOLDING THE LEASHES OF A PAIR OF LIONS.
PANEL 2. CALLINICUS, IN SANDALS AND A SOLDIER'S TUNIC STANDS BEHIND THEM.
CALLINICUS: LOST ARE WE?
PANEL 3. TWO SHOT ON THE OFFICER, HOLDING THE LIONS BACK, AND CALLINICUS.
OFFICER: PEASANT! STATE YOUR NAME SO I'LL KNOW WHO IT IS MY MEN HAVE KILLED.
PANEL 4. CALLINICUS, THE GRIN FALLEN FROM HIS BEARDED VISAGE.
CALLINICUS: I DON'T THINK SO, HEATHEN.
PAGE 2, PANEL 1. CALLINICUS SURVEYS HIS HANDIWORK, ONE HAND HOLDING THE LIONS' LEASHES. AROUND HIM, THE UNCONSCIOUS BODIES OF THE PERSIANS.
PANEL 2. PERCHED ON SOME ROCKS ABOVE THE SCENE IS A MASSIVE GRYPHON, IDLY CRUNCHING ON SOME BONES.
PANEL 3. CALLINICUS SHIELDING THE SUN FROM HIS EYES WITH HIS FREE HAND, EYES THE SHIP.
VOICE (OFF PANEL): SO WHAT ABOUT THE KITTENS?
CALLINICUS: I HAVE AN IDEA.
PANEL 4. ANGLE ON ONE OF THE LIONS, TERROR STRICKEN AS IT HURTLES THROUGH THE AIR TOWARDS THE SHIP.
PANEL 5. THE DECK OF THE SHIP, LION'S P.O.V FROM ABOVE. SAILORS, UNDER A PAIR OF CAT SHAPED SHADOWS, POINT TO THE SKY IN HORROR.
PANEL 6. ANGLE CALLINICUS ON THE BEACH, PLEASED WITH HIMSELF. BEHIND HIM EUSEBIA THE GRYPHON LAUGHS HYSTERICALLY.
CALLINICUS: NOW LET'S GO GET A DRINK.
EUSEBIA: DRINK, NOW THERE'S A GREAT IDEA.
EUSEBIA: LIONS! THAT'S THE BEST THING I'VE SEEN IN YEARS.
I'm not happy with this one. It's got some good stuff but is pretty slapdash on the whole.