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Comic Book / Camelot 3000

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Camelot 3000 is an American twelve-issue comic book series written by Mike W. Barr and penciled by Brian Bolland. It was published by DC Comics from 1982 to 1985 as one of its first direct market projects, and as its first maxi-series.

The plot of the series follows the adventures of King Arthur, Merlin and the reincarnated Knights of the Round Table as they reemerge in an overpopulated future world of 3000 A.D. to fight off an alien invasion masterminded by Arthur's old nemesis, Morgan Le Fay. Arthur is awakened accidentally from his resting place beneath Glastonbury Tor by a young archeology student, Tom Prentice.

Notably, because of its position as a maxi-series, Camelot 3000 was able to circumvent the Comics Code and feature more adult content than previously allowed in a comic and included then controversial themes on gender identity and sexuality via the reinterpretation of Sir Tristan as a trans character.

Despite its standing in comic book history, the series is not terribly well known, but highly recommended.


  • The '80s: Despite being set in the year 3000, this series wallows in the fashion and culture of the 1980s.
  • '80s Hair: Tristan, in both incarnations.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: as in so sharp you can split atoms with it. Note that in an earlier scene, Arthur uses its edge to coherently split a laser in half. Not just atoms, streams of photons, boys and girls!
  • Actually, That's My Assistant: Tom interrupts a wedding to awaken the memories of the reborn Sir Tristan. He assumes, and insists, that the knight is the burly and belligerent groom, but it turns out the sweet bride is the real Tristan (who stops being feminine right away after being awakened).
    • The alien Hive Queen assumes that Commander Acton is the one in charge, not Arthur, because females are dominant in the aliens' society. Not wanting to sidetrack the negotiations, the humans don't correct her assumptions and Guinevere speaks for them.
  • Americans Are Cowboys: The American president dresses like a cowboy and packs a pair of six-shooters.
  • And the Adventure Continues
  • Artistic License Nuclear Physics: splitting a single atom of carbon/iron/whatever, even with Excalibur, is probably not going to cause a chain reaction leading to a thermonuclear explosion.
  • Bee People: The aliens have a mother-queen, although they're not insect-like anatomically.
  • BFS: Excalibur.
  • Bluffing the Murderer: Merlin has been betrayed by one of the reincarnated Round Table knights. King Arthur orders the suspects to hold Excalibur and attest to their innocence, claiming his sword will magically strike down anyone who lies while holding it. The guilty party panics and confesses, after which Arthur admits that Excalibur has no such power.
  • Book Ends: The series ends with a vaguely amoeboid creature drawing Excalibur from the stone where Arthur left it, while two similar creatures look on in awe.
  • Butterface: Ninive is a hot woman clad in a semi-transparent gown and a porcelain mask. What's behind that mask isn't very pretty.
  • Crapsack World: On top of the of the ongoing alien invasion, the world's governments are extremely corrupt and oppressive, turning criminals into Neo-Men to repress their restless population. They are also completely ineffective in dealing with the alien invasion, who are capable of destroying London, Japan and countless other places, and when Arthur reemerges to become a Hope Bringer, the world's leaders conspire to have him killed, because they see him as a threat.
  • Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion
  • Enigmatic Empowering Entity: The Lady of the Lake.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Morgan le Fay
  • Excalibur: Arthur must retrieve his fabled sword from the Lady of the Lake. The lake, however, is now the cooling pond for a nuclear powers station.
  • Failed Future Forecast: One of the leaders of the four biggest power blocks in the world is the Premier of the Soviet Union, which apparently still exists in the year 3000.
  • First Law Of Genderbending: Tristan never does figure out a way to become a man again, and eventually comes to terms with being a woman and still loving Isolde.
  • Future Society, Present Values: Despite taking place in the year 3000 - a millennium from the time this comic was written - the Soviet Union and South Africa's Apartheid are still in effect, despite both being dismantled by modern times. It also has Sir Tristan's angsting about being reincarnated as a woman, even though her reborn lover Isolde seems quite content to contemplate a lesbian relationship, and sex reassignment surgery is bound to be as routine as a tummy-tuck by that era if Tristan is really not happy.
  • Genghis Gambit: The newly resurrected knights are not dealing well with each other, so Kay, who was always the least liked of the knights, chooses to remain in the role by acting like an asshole towards the other knights. Thus he gives the other knights someone common to look down and get along with each other.
  • Heroic Sacrifice — several.
  • Hive Caste System: The alien invaders.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers
  • Incompatible Orientation: Tom never had a chance... But he did seem to come very close.
  • King Arthur
  • King in the Mountain
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Sir Tristan's reincarnation as a woman which may be seen as punishment for the rape he committed as a male.
  • Multinational Team: due to being reincarnated into bodies across the planet, the Knights of the Round Table are essentially this: Tom, King Arthur, and (presumably) Merlin are English, Lancelot is French, Guinevere and Kay are American, Percival is Australian, Galahad is Japanese, Gawain is South African, and Tristan is Canadian.
  • Mythology Gag: Tom Prentice essentially functions as a squire to King Arthur, most likely in reference to how Thomas Malory is a lowly squire in The Once and Future King.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Herod: The reincarnation of Mordred experiences a flashback in which King Arthur attempts to drown him as an infant, apparently having learned that his bastard child will one day destroy Camelot. This naturally pisses off his new incarnation enough to instantly turn him from a Corrupt Corporate Executive-type to the Big Bad's new Dragon. Possibly a subversion, as the flashback is induced by Morgan le Fay, who has her own reasons to manipulate him and might've faked the vision to inflame his hatred.
  • No Infantile Amnesia: Morgan le Fay causes Mordred's reincarnation to remember his previous incarnation's having almost been drowned by King Arthur as an infant.
  • Race Lift: In-Verse examples: Gawain's reincarnation is African, and Galahad's is Japanese.
  • Recycled In Space: It's essentially a sequel/retelling of the Le Morte D'Arthur IN THE FUTURE, IN SPACE! So much so, that key events of Arthurian Legend all repeat (the Guinevere/Lancelot affair, the sword in the stone, the Holy Grail, Arthur's death etc.)
    • But it's mostly justified as the original does foretell that King Arthur would return when Britain would need him most.
  • Redemption Equals Death Kay, Galahad, and Arthur himself.
  • Red Right Hand: Morgan finds that Power Gives You Seriously Nasty Pustules.
  • Reincarnated as the Opposite Sex: The chauvinistic Sir Tristan is reincarnated as a woman. This subplot, and Lady Tristan's relationship with the still-female reincarnation of Isolde, drew a lot of attention at the time.
  • Right-Hand Attack Dog: Morgan's pet ape-thing. Also Was Once a Man.
  • Rock Beats Laser
  • Sealed Good in a Can: Camelot 3000 is all about the Sealed Good of King Arthur being revived from a millennia-long hibernation to battle alien invaders.
  • Second Coming: Fulfilling an ancient prophecy that he would return when England needs him most.
  • Shout-Out: Camelot 3000 isn't part of The DCU. However, the 2011 comic DC Universe: Legacies #7 featured a Time Travel trip to the DCU's version of Camelot in the Middle Ages, and Arthur, Merlin, and Morgaine's appearances were based on how they looked in Camelot 3000. The issue's artist was Brian Bolland.
  • Show Some Leg: King Arthur has Sir Tristan, who'd been reincarnated as female, pull this stunt on some enemy guards. As Arthur knew Tristan hated being stuck in a woman's body, this was as much a loyalty-test for Tristan as a means of neutralizing the guards.
    • Morgan also does this to murder the African leader by infecting him with the sickness of her back. It succeeds, and isn't pretty.
  • Significant Haircut: Tristan cuts his hair short to indicate that he is not Amber any more.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Isolde.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Guinevere and Lancelot express the hope that this trope applies in their final scene when she is pregnant.
  • Starfish Language
  • Super-Soldier: Dissidents and criminals are involuntarily converted to Neo-Men by oppressive governments: oversized, voiceless, unquestioning brutes used to suppress riots and political unrest. Sir Percival's reincarnation undergoes this transformation within moments of having his past life's recollections restored, but retains his own mind due to the memory-restoration magic's effects.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Tom.
  • Title by Year: This is set in the year 3000.
  • Working for a Body Upgrade: Subverted. Morgan la Fay tempts Tristan to betray Merlin in exchange for being transformed from a female reincarnation to male. Tristan never gets the chance because Kay betrays Merlin first; in any case, s/he had been planning to kill Morgan as soon as the transformation-spell was applied.