Shining Knight, a character from Paul Cornell’s medieval-themed comic book series Demon Knights, has always been somewhat androgynous in terms of his or her sexual identity ever since DC’s 2011 re-launch. The recent “Demon Knights #14” set out to clarify what many had often pondered, though the issue has seemingly left us with even more questions. The answer isn’t that he/she is a he or she, apparently; Shining Knight is both male and female.
“I think you like one… aspect of who I am,” Shining Knight says in the image to the left. “But I’m the other, too. I was born this way. I’ve kept saying, whenever anyone asks. I’m not just a man or a woman. I’m both.”
The exact nature of this comment is up for debate, as Shining Knight could mean he/she was born with both sets of male and female genitalia and/or born with XXY chromosomes (hermaphrodite), or he/she could mean that they have either a male or female set of genitalia but choose to think of himself/ herself as being the opposite in their mind (transgendered).
When Newsarama reached out to Paul Cornell to clarify what Shining Knight had meant by that comment, he left things pretty vague. “I think that’s down to what each individual reader wants from that exchange, or most identifies with” said Cornell. “Why shut down any of the possibilities?”
Originally, the Shining Knight (or Sir Justin, as he was also known) was a Golden Age character created by Creig Flessel. Sir Justin first appeared in “Adventure Comics #44” in September, 1941 and had a pretty clear-cut sexual identity. The obscure character was later revamped by Grant Morrison (of course) and named Ystin, since the knights of Camelot spoke Welsh in that story and that name can be used as their equivalent for Justin. Morrison’s tale revealed that Ystin was truly Ystina, a woman using the guise of a man in order to become a knight. After the New 52 reboot, Paul Cornell had yet to verify the exact nature of Shining Knight and, until now, many readers had believed Morrison’s take on the character to still be the norm.
This news is one of several recent developments to come from DC since the New 52 re-launch to further diversify their LGBT cast of characters. Some of you will recall last June’s announcement that the Earth 2 Green Lantern, Alan Scott, was outed as gay. Similarly to when that news broke, this recent outing can be construed either positively or negatively—the former as a step in the right direction towards accurately portraying all walks of life within the confines of their pages, the latter as a disrespectful marketing ploy by DC to blatantly grab headlines by ruffling some feathers.
However you choose to interpret Shining Knight’s comments may be as close to a definitive answer as you can expect, it seems. Paul Cornell is ending his run on Demon Knights with the upcoming issue #15, and new Demon Knights scribe Robert Venditti plans to pick up the story several decades after that issue.
Stay tuned to Capeless Crusader for more on Demon Knights and all your comic book related news.