Shining Knight

Shining Knight

Shining Knight and Victory, from the cover of All-Star Squadron #62 (October 1986). Art by Mike Harris and Tony DeZuniga.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Adventure Comics # 66 (September 1941)
Created by Creig Flessel (writer/artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Sir Justin
Team affiliations Knights of the Round Table
Justice Society of America
Seven Soldiers of Victory
All-Star Squadron
Notable aliases Justin Arthur
  • Master of the arts of combat of Arthurian times
  • Enchanted armor and sword
  • The steed, Winged Victory, can fly

Shining Knight is the name of three comic book superheroes that have appeared in books published by DC Comics. The original Shining Knight, Sir Justin, was created by Creig Flessel and first appeared in Adventure Comics #66 (September 1941).

Fictional character biography

Sir Justin

Sir Justin, the newest member of the Knights of the Round Table in King Arthur's Court, was one of the many knights who had witnessed Queen Guinevere's cousin's, Sir Fallon's, death. Fallon revealed his attacker to be the ogre Blunderbore in his last breath. Justin then vowed that he would avenge Fallon's death and search for Blunderbore in the northland. On his journey there, he met and freed the wizard Merlin, who was trapped in a tree previously by a witch. To thank Justin, Merlin transformed Justin's old, rusty armor into a golden, comfortable, and shining armor that was invulnerable and made his sword and shield invulnerable as well. Justin's sword was so powerful it could cut through anything. Merlin also gave his horse, Victory, giant bird-like wings that allowed him to fly, and made him invulnerable, though he was unable to make Justin's skin invulnerable. Justin thanked Merlin and continued to search for Blunderbore.

When he met Blunderbore at the top of the icy mountains in the northland, the two battled with Justin eventually winning and killing Blunderbore. However, right before he died, Blunderbore caused an avalanche that quickly buried Justin and Victory, however neither of them died, but instead were frozen in suspended animation. By the year 1941, Justin and Victory were finally discovered and released out of suspended animation by a museum curator. Realizing he must now live in the modern world, he decided to fight crime with his skills as a knight and soon took the civilian alias of Justin Arthur. He eventually met heroes like Crimson Avenger and Vigilante and, after meeting other heroes, they formed the Seven Soldiers of Victory. Later, Justin was invited to join the All-Star Squadron and when the JSA and the Squadron were captured by the time travelling villain Per Degaton, who was planning to change the events of Pearl Harbor to conquer the World, he was able to free himself using his sword, which assisted in the defeat of Degaton, though when Degaton went back to 1947 these events were forgotten. Later he served as the personal bodyguard to Sir Winston Churchill during World War II, feeling he wanted to return to Britain. When he first returned he was able to take down a Nazi Bomber. Also, during his career as a superhero, he met a boy who looked up to him and vowed to be his sidekick, taking the name Squire.

Justin also had a relationship with the second Firebrand, who was apparently killed by the Dragon King. In the last battle with his teammates in The Seven Soldiers of Victory, they fought a powerful energy creature called Nebula Man. When they finally defeated him, the energies released in the explosion of Nebula Man had caused each member of the Soldiers to be thrown and lost in time. Justin was thrown in Asia during Genghis Khan's reign, losing his memory and helping the Mongol leader, but he, and along with the other members of the Soldiers were eventually rescued by the Justice League. After this, Justin was amnesiac for quite some time until his memories returned in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.. He rejoined with the remainder of the Seven Soldiers and got his revenge on the Dragon King. During this appearance, Justin employed new high-tech armor which was voice-activated to expand and collapse.

During the events of Identity Crisis, Shining Knight assists Captain Marvel, Vixen and Firestorm during their battle with Shadow Thief. Shadow Thief steals Sir Justin's sword and uses is to stab Firestorm through the chest, resulting in the young hero's death. Shining Knight briefly appears in Justice League: Cry For Justice, where he is shown as one of the heroes recruited by Jay Garrick to help combat Prometheus.[1]

Powers and abilities

The Shining Knight is a master of the arts of combat of Arthurian times. Wearing his enchanted bulletproof armor and wielding his enchanted sword, the Shining Knight can cut through almost anything and can resist magical attack. His steed, Winged Victory, can fly.

Gardner Grayle

Main article: Atomic Knight

During DC's "Silver Age" crossover event (not to be confused with the actual Silver Age of Comic Books), Dick Giordano and Geoff Johns created a new Seven Soldiers of Victory to fight an Injustice League that had possessed the bodies of the Justice League of America.[2]

Gardner Grayle, who would later become the Atomic Knight, took an experimental suit of armor and called himself Shining Knight for this one mission. This version of the Seven Soldiers with Batgirl, Deadman, Metamorpho, Blackhawk, Adam Strange and Mento only served in one mission and the Shining Knight armor was destroyed.


Shining Knight

Artwork for the cover of Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight #2 by Simone Bianchi.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight #1 (August 2005)
Created by Grant Morrison (writer)
Simone Bianchi (artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Ystina
Team affiliations Seven Soldiers of Victory
Knights of the Broken Table
Demon Knights
Notable aliases Sir Ystin
Abilities Unusually strong and resilient to damage, swordsmanship, can fly on winged horse "Vanguard".

Seven Soldiers

In 2005, a new Shining Knight debuted in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers megaseries. This new DC Comics version is a creation of Grant Morrison and Simone Bianchi, based on Flessel's Golden Age Shining Knight.

This new Shining Knight is also named Sir Justin (in the story, the knights of Camelot speak Welsh, so sometimes the Welsh equivalent "Ystin" is used) and has a winged horse but is much more out of place in the modern age.

Ystin is clearly a Celtic mythology version of the original Shining Knight (who was based more on the quasi-medieval setting of Sir Thomas Malory). The story explains that Camelot is a recurring archetype. Ystin comes from about 8,000 BC, long before the 6th century Camelot of Sir Justin.

Ystin, a long-haired 'schoolboy' of Camelot, is knighted and dubbed the Shining Knight by Sir Galahad, just before the fall of Camelot. Unbeknownst to Galahad, Ystin is actually a girl who is in love with him. Ystin and her winged horse Vanguard confront Gloriana Tenebrae, the Sheeda-Queen, who takes them to Castle Revolving, the floating fortress of the Sheeda. Gloriana casually informs the young knight that she has stolen the sword Excalibur, one of the Seven Imperishable Treasures. Ystin breaks free, steals Excalibur, and escapes from the Castle - only to fall to earth in modern Los Angeles, some 10,000 years later. There, she is confronted by Guilt, a Sheeda Mood 7 Mind Destroyer, who 'kills with words'.

Guilt informs her that the Sheeda broke Camelot and created a nightmare kingdom in its place, ruled by the undead King Mordredd. Without the goodness of Camelot to inspire them, the kingdoms of Avalon (which took up all the world) committed suicide. Guilt taunts Ystin, saying that if Ystin had not run away, the war might have been won. However, when Ystin saves a homeless man from some thugs, Guilt evaporates. Ystin, newly enlightened, seeks out the police.

The police contact two women: Agent Helen Helligan, a metahuman specialist for the FBI, and Doctor Gloria Friday, an expert on pre-Atlantean civilization. With Friday's uncanny grasp of ancient Welsh, they learn of Ystin's predicament. Suddenly, as the clock strikes midnight, Friday reveals that she is really the Sheeda-Queen, and promptly incapacitates Ystin before poisoning Helligan.

Back at Castle Revolving, Gloriana reveals that Ystin is not the last of the Knights: in the final days of the Age of Camelot, the Sheeda kidnapped Galahad and broke his spirit, remaking him as a degenerate brute. For the Sheeda-Queen's twisted amusement, Ystin and Galahad are made to duel each other. Ystin attempts to reason with Galahad, but he is beyond her reach and mercilessly attacks her. Just then, the Queen gets a whiff of Ystin's menstrual blood and reveals that Ystin is really a girl. Gloriana then leaves Galahad to torture Ystin into joining the Sheeda side. Ystin pleads with Galahad one last time, before resolving that her mentor and the man she loves is truly gone. With one mighty strike, Ystin kills Galahad. With tears in her eyes, Ystin vows to come after Gloriana and exact revenge.

There is a subplot concerning Vincenzo the Undying Don, the leader of the Los Angeles underworld, who acquires Vanguard from the police. He also owns the second of the Seven Imperishable Treasures, the Cauldron of Rebirth and Plenty. Ne-Bu-Loh and Spyder, servants of the Sheeda-Queen, kills Vincenzo in the hopes that he will lead them to the Cauldron. He does, remarking when he emerges that 'These are the end times, when we make peace with what we are'. Vincenzo and his servitors all die, but Vanguard escaped to Gorias, to get reinforcements for the final battle.

In Seven Soldiers #1, it is revealed that Ystin's original given name is Justina (or more accurately, Ystina). Following the defeat of the Sheeda, Justina abandons her facade of being a boy and enrolls in a 21st-century school. She laments being stranded in our era and failing her king and fellow knights. However, she is informed by the magician Ali Ka-Zoom of sketchy records of a great queen called "Ystina the Good" who helped restore the Sheeda-ravaged world centuries ago. Whether she eventually returns to the past and assumes this role remains to be seen.

Ystina is also seen in the battle for Metropolis in Infinite Crisis #7 attacking The Riddler.

Ystina makes a brief appearance in week 50 of the maxi-series 52, helping dozens of heroes battle the rage-maddened Black Adam. Fellow 'Soldier' Manhattan Guardian assists in the battle. This fight is also detailed in the fourth issue of the "World War III" tie-in series.

She later appeared in the "New Deal" arc of the Teen Titans. After losing various members due to events such as Battle for the Cowl and Terror Titans, Cassie Sandsmark tasks Kid Devil with recruiting new heroes for the team. He approaches Ystina with the intent of asking her to join, only to be chased off after she mistakes him for a demon.

New 52

In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), Ystin is a transgender character who primarily identifies as male but appears to be biologically female. (This started as a running gag in Demon Knights where everyone was sure the Shining Knight was not biologically male but humoured 'her', before gradually being shown as a gender identity plot) Demon Knights writer Paul Cornell was deliberately ambiguous about the character's gender until the fourteenth issue, where Ystin says "I'm both [genders]... I was born this way". Cornell later called Ystin transgender on social media and asked for more detail by Newsarama, Cornell said: "I think that's down to what each individual reader wants from that exchange, or most identifies with. Why shut down any of the possibilities?" [3] Ystin's torture in Hell was to be forced to publicly display his gender.[4]

Ystin lived in a Celtic incarnation of Camelot as a squire, under Artus the Bear King. The Daemonites, ravagers of every attempt at Camelot, destroyed it and left Ystin for dead; Merlin fed him from the Grail and granted him immortality. With his horse Vanguard, the Shining Knight subconsciously searched Earth for the Grail so Merlin could resurrect Camelot. When immortality was too much, they took long slumbers under hillsides.[5] Ystin was unaware of the later Camelot that Madame Xanadu and Jason Blood lived in and used to believe they were lying.[6]

In Dark Ages Europe, Ystin joined the 'Demon Knights' at the town of Little Spring and joined them on a quest to Avalon. (The series had an early running gag of his habit of insulting people in old Welsh so they can't understand they're being insulted.[7] Ystin and his comrade Exoristos formed a relationship during their time together. During an early battle against the Questing Queen, Ystin had a vision of Merlin giving him the option to cease searching for the Grail, as the search would bring "great sorrow"; he decided to continue.[8] At Avalon, Ystin was knighted by King Arthur as part of the realm's agents on Earth: the original Stormwatch. he departed with Exoristos to continue searching for the Grail.[9]

Thirty years later, the Demon Knights are brought together again by an aged Al Jabr to fight the vampire Cain.[10] Sir Ystin had been aware from his visions that he would one day become a vampire and while the team defeated Cain, the Knight was bitten and turned.[11]

Other versions

Kingdom Come

In the 1996 miniseries Kingdom Come, there is a background character named Shining Knight II, this version is more futuristic than his predecessors and comes with a giant, metal dragon named Dragonknight.[12]

Titans Tomorrow

An older version of Justina has appeared in Teen Titans #52 as a member of the Titans Army from the Titans Tomorrow future.[13]

JLA: Another Nail

The Shining Knight and Victory made a brief appearance in Elseworlds' JLA: Another Nail when all time periods meld together.[14]

In other media


Shining Knight and Vigilante in Justice League Unlimited in the episode "Dark Heart".


  1. Justice League: Cry for Justice #4
  2. Silver Age #2
  3. Newsarama: "SHINING KNIGHT 'OUTED' As DC's First Intersex Hero/ine?" (15 November 2012)
  4. Demon Knights #13
  5. Demon Knights #4
  6. Demon Knights #1 and #8
  7. Demon Knights #1 to #3 (September 2011)
  8. Demon Knights #4
  9. Demon Knights #15
  10. Demon Knights #16 (Dec. 2012)
  11. Demon Knights #19 (Mar. 2013)
  12. Kingdom Come #3
  13. Teen Titans #52
  14. JLA: Another Nail #2
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