LADY of the LAKE
Real Name: Niamh
Identity/Class: Celtic Goddess (Camelot and modern eras)
Occupation: Goddess, guardian of Excalibur
Affiliations: Loosely connected to Celtic Gods;
uncertain connection to Nimue/Vivienne (see comments)
Avengers West Coast, Black Knight (Dane Whitman), Adam Crown, Excalibur, Green Knight, Iron Man (Tony Stark), Lancelot, Merlin, Arthur Pendragon
Enemies: Bane, Iweret, Red Lord, Sir Accalon;
possibly Sir Balin
Known Relatives: Dyonas (father), Llew-Llaw-Gyffes (uncle), Gwydion (grandfather), Arianrhod (grandmother), Dagda, Leir, Amaethon (granduncles); Mabuz (possible son?)
Aliases: Nimue, Nineve, the Maiden of the Lake; see comments
Base of Operations: An undersea kingdom
or castle possibly beneath Lake Benoye, Benoye, France;
Avalon, Otherworld; Camelot and modern eras
First Appearance: Uncertain, possibly Morte D' Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory
(Marvel Universe): (Marvel UK) Hulk Comic#18 (July 4, 1979)
Powers/Abilities: Uncertain. She is apparently immune to the effects of aging and conventional disease. She apparently can survive underwater, although it may be that she uses the lake or other sources of water as a portal to another realm. She may be able to travel to Otherworld/Avalon, and possibly to other dimensions as well. She has long held the sword Excalibur, which she bestows unto only the most worthy swordsmen.
In one appearance, she was a green woman, able to transform into (or composed of) a watery substance. She could transport herself to anywhere in which a large pool of water was present. She also may be able to travel through time, or at least view future events. She demonstrated a few other, unspecified magical powers.
In another appearance, she had certain powers of vegetation, able to extend vines and branches from her body.
The Lady of the Lake is typically described as being clad in shimmering, white robes of the purest samite.
The Lady of The Lake was a mysterious female credited with giving King Arthur the legendary sword Excalibur and the mystic scabbard which protected the wearer from dying. She was also credited with abducting Lancelot to her underwater dwelling to be her ward, training him to be the greatest of all knights.
Other stories attribute Lancelot du Lac's ("of the Lake") prowess to the Lady of the Lake (with shades of the Achilles myth) baptizing him in a magic pool as a child . In some of the tales, she stole the child Lancelot and cured his madness. This was done so Lancelot could become guard to her weak son Mabuz who was tormented by Iweret.
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#9: Morgan le Fay) - Morgan le Fay stole the enchanted sword Excalibur and its magic scabbard (the wearer of the scabbard would lose no blood, no matter how seriously he were wounded). Morgan had the sword and scabbard replaced with non-magical replicas and then presented her lover, Sir Accolon, with the real Excalibur and scabbard. She then duped Accolon into attacking a knight, with him not knowing that knight was Arthur. Despite his skill and courage, Arthur might have perished at Accolon's hands had not Nimue used her magic to force Accolon to drop Excalibur. Arthur then seized Excalibur and defeated Accolon, revealing Morgan's plot in the process.
(New Excalibur#10) - After Camelot fell under the onslaught of "dragons" (actually Makluans), Percy followed the call of the Lady of the Lake, who pulled him into her waters and sent him forward in time to possess the body of Dane Whitman (the Black Knight of the modern era). With the Ebony Blade, the Percy-possessed Whitman slashed into Percy's own corpse and retrieved a scroll (presumably placed there by the Lady). He fought the arriving Excalibur (Captain Britain, Dazzler (Alison Blaire), Juggernaut, Nocturne (TJ Wagner), Sage, Pete Wisdom) and was knocked out by the Juggernaut. Sage read the scroll, learning that only Excalibur could save Camelot.
(New Excalibur#11) - Percy led Excalibur into the lake, and they emerged back in the 6th century, prior to the dragon's attack, and Percy was restored to his own body. He led them to aid Merlin against an attack by a trio of dragons. The group then returned to Camelot and shared the warning of the dragons' threat to Arthur.
(New Excalibur#12 (fb) - BTS) - Pete Wisdom got drunk and hit on Guinevere. Arthur was less than appreciative, and after Wisdom tried to stab him with a carving knife, Arthur punched him out. Wisdom passed out in front of Guinevere's door; but Guinevere had been distraught over Wisdom's unpleasantness and had turned to Lancelot for sympathy, leading to the start of their affair.
(New Excalibur#12) - Sage exposed the dragons as Makluans and
instructed Merlin to conjure some Formosian herb, which caused the dragons to
collapse into unconsciousness. Via the Lady of the Lake's magic, Excalibur and
Dane Whitman returned to the modern era.
The fall of Camelot at the dragons' hands was diverged into "reality-6120."
After the Battle of Cammlan, wherein both Arthur and his treacherous rival Mordred met their dooms, the dying Arthur commanded his cupbearer, Sir Bedivere, to carry Excalibur to a nearby lake and cast it into the waters. Overcoming his reluctance after an admonishment to obedience by the dying king, Bedivere hurled the blade over the lake and as the blade neared the waters the Lady of the Lake's hand reached up from the depths to grasp it, brandishing it three times before returning to her watery home.
(Excalibur: XX Crossing#1) Just after his battle with Mordred, Arthur threw Excalibur into the water for the Lady of the Lake. However, Sidestep, a time-travel mastery rogue, had brainwashed Jean Grey into thinking she was Morgan Le Fay, and she prevented the Lady of the Lake from receiving the sword. However, a time displaced Shadowcat subdued Grey, and the Lady of the Lake received the sword. (see comments).
Some stories place the Lady of the Lake, whether Niamh or Nimue, alongside Morgan le Fey as one of three or even four queens that carry away the mortally wounded Arthur to the Celtic otherworld of Avalon where he awaits the day when Britain once again needs him to return.
In one account, she was murdered by the knight Sir Balin demanding Excalibur after Arthur's death.
(Hulk Comic#18/2, 19/2) - After the temporary destruction of the Ebony Blade by the Iron Knight, the Black Knight (Dane Whitman) was given the sword Excalibur by the Lady of the Lake. She appeared only momentarily, handed him the sword, and returned to the waters from which she had surfaced.
(Excalibur#37, 38) - Excalibur was duped into assisting Dr. Doom in a plot to steal the Promethium metal from Otherplace (Belasco's "Limbo"), which could result in the "total obliteration of England." The Lady of the Lake witnessed this from the waters outside their lighthouse headquarters, and then traveled to a pool in Avengers Compound, where she recruited the Avengers West Coast to help break up Doom's plot. She brought them to England, where she helped them close one of the portals to Otherplace, and then transported them to Otherplace.
Pendragon I#15) - The Lady of the Lake appeared in the shower of
Adam Crown, telling him of his destiny: "It is time once
more for the king to ride out once more for the sword of the new
Apparently following her mystic guidance, Crown traveled to the Museum of Pagan Antiquities in London, stole "a priceless Iron Age sword," and hurled it into the nearby canal. The sword sank beneath the surface, and then the Lady of the Lake's hand lifted it (or another sword) back above the surface.
(KoP#16-BTS) - Crown followed the guidance of the Lady of the Lake, bringing the sword from the Lady of the Lake to Wiltshire, England.
(Knights of Pendragon I#17) - Crown floated out
into the middle of Blagdon reservoir, where the Lady of the Lake
She led him to Avalon, to the Green Chapel, where she brought him to the empty tomb of Arthur and convinced him that he was the Pendragon reincarnation of King Arthur. Crown accepted the Pendragon spirit as she brought him before the Green Knight.
She also cryptically referenced some terrible fate that had befallen her--presumably an attack by the Bane--which was what had made her so hideous.
In addition, Ben Gallagher dreamed of a woman, who may have been the Lady of the Lake (or some Arthurian Holy Woman, about whom I have no idea) transforming him into the Pendragon reincarnation of Percival. His dreams ended when his real body died, from wounds recently suffered in battle against the bane B'Ngudjaaa. The woman transported him to the tombs of Avalon.
(Heroes for Hire#2) - The Lady of the Lake appeared to Dane Whitman in a lagoon in the Central Park Zoo. She transported him to Avalon, where she may have imbued him with the spirit of a Pendragon. She outfitted him with a new suit of armor, the Sword of Light, the Shield of Night, and a new winged steed--Strider.
(HsfH#8) - The Black Knight returned to Avalon,
beseeching the aid of the Lady of the Lake in locating Crystal.
She refused, telling him that she must be his lady, as he was
bound to her service. In addition, she reminded him that Crystal
was wed to another (Quicksilver), and that his affection for her
was not honorable.
As he left, she prophesized three women for him: the one he loves, the one who stole his heart, and the one who yet waits. All would cause him heartache and grief.
(Captain Britain and MI13#2) - The Lady of the Lake was slain by Skrulls who had usurped the power of magic and invaded Otherworld.
(Captain Britain and MI13#4) - With the defeat of the Skrulls and the restoration of magic, the Lady of the Lake was restored to existence.
Comments: Creator: uncertain. Possibly
Sir Thomas Malory in Morte D' Arthur (as suggested by Kyle Smith)
Adapted to the MU by Dez Skin, Steve Parkhouse, Paul Neary, and John Stokes.
This history is a shortened deduction merging many of the tales of Arthurian myth and, hence, omits some of the details and motivations involved.
In some versions of the Arthurian legends,
particularly the Vulgate, there were two separate
women/goddesses: Niamh and Vivienne, both of whom also received
the name Nimue, who is the Lady of the Lake. In several tales,
the identity of Niamh merges with that of Nimue/Vivienne, the
love of Merlin. In the stories where Niamh/Nimue was murdered by
Sir Balin, Nimue/Vivienne replaced her as the Lady of the Lake.
Alternatively, in other versions, there was only a single
character, or even two aspects of the same being--the goddess
If only for the purposes of clarifications, the Appendix will list the Lady of the Lake as Niamh/Nimue, and as a separate being from Nimue/Vivienne. The actual situation in the MU is unlikely to ever be revealed.
Further explanatation on the division b/t Niamh and Nimue, courtesy of Greg O:
Nimue is often referred as the young enchantress that seduced Merlin. If she was once Morganna Le Fey's pupil, then later Merlin's pupil and eventual captor how could she be the same person that Merlin brought Arthur to in order to obtain Excalibur? It just doesn't add up.
Snood: My guess would be that no one at Marvel knows there are two characters. I'm fairly certain that anyone using the Lady of the Lake intends it to be the same person who gave Arthur Excalibur in the the first place. That means Niamh.
If I were to try to explain things, I would think that Niamh (who is a goddess, after all) was not actually killed, or if so, managed to reform herself, and continue as the modern Lady of the Lake. In addition, it just doesn't make sense for Morgan's pupil to have sabotaged her work and saved Arthur's life. I think that had to be Niamh.
But I would also like to see more of Nimue/Vivienne.
To be honest, with many of the myths, the more you try to pin down who's who and who did what, the more confused you get. I tried to research this more myself and kept getting further from what I knew/thought was in line with the MU character, so I stopped...--Snood.
Per Will U:
The story that takes place in Excalibur: XX Crossing #1 does not quite fit into the assumed chronology of the King Arthur legend. However, it could very well be the way events happened on Earth-616, as I don't believe the legendary account has been shown in such otherwise. It's also possible that the time-travel took Grey and Pryde back to an already-diverged Earth where Arthur, not Bedivere, returned Excalibur to the Lady, and their actions had no consequence to the timeline of Earth-616. - Madison Carter
The version of the Lady of the Lake in
Excalibur#37 (by Scott Lobdell and Mark Badger) is markedly
different from the version seen in the rest of the stories. The
version in the Knights of Pendragon is different as well, but she
may have been temporarily afflicted by the curse of the Bane...or
perhaps that is her true form in the modern era, and she
magically cloaks herself in a form more aesthetically pleasing.
Perhaps one version is Niamh and the other Vivienne? It's a moo point anyway...I'm thinking not too many people writing for Marvel know anything about either version, except that she gave Excalibur to King Arthur.
Also in Excalibur#37, she recalled Iron Man as
one who had "championed the Greater Isles of Britain in
times past." He did so by traveling back in time to the
time of Camelot, in Iron Man I#149, 150. However, the footnote
referenced "most recently in Iron Man#250." In that
issue, Iron Man traveled forward in time, too an alternate future
of 2093, where she assisted that time's Merlin and Arthur.
So, the Lady of the Lake may have: (1) traveled forward in time to that world as well, and knew of those events via that means; (2) viewed those future events through a magical portal; (2) referred only to Iron Man I#150. The footnote may have been directed to the reader, and not specifically referring to the events referenced by the Lady of the Lake.
Moot point. Dorkas Farcas.
The original Knights of Pendragon series is
quite hard to follow. Jess Nevin's pre-FF page covers the
Pendragon concept beautifully...but it seems to be down right
now. However, the Pendragon were good spirits, formerly tied to
many of the Knights of the Round Table, which appeared as needed
to fight the darker forces of the world. The Bane represented
that dark force, and were apparently agents of the Red Lord, who would presumably
be the Celtic God Bodb Derg.
I guess the sword that Crown stole was supposed to be Excalibur? Who knows?
In the Heroes for Hire stories, the following people did not remember that Dane Whitman and the Lady of the Lake had already met once (although quite briefly): (1) Dane Whitman, (2) the Lady of the Lake, (3) the writer and editors.
Arthur did indeed return in the time of need of
England, in the pages of the Marvel UK Hulk Comic, to oppose the
forces of Necromon.
--the writers of the HsfH series also didn't remember/know this, nor the fact that Arthur had fought side by side with the Black Knight in that story.
Some modern historians believe the episodes involving the Lady of the Lake and the drawing forth from (and later return to) the waters of Excalibur as representative of ancient pagan rituals in which swords were left in sacred pools as votive deposits.
Mabuz/Mabon was son of Matrona, a lake-goddess disconnected with the LOTL, but merged with her in later years. If I remember right, his story occurs several years before the incidents in Arthur's life--Will U
Many, many thanks to Will U and Greg O, two of the Appendix's myth-masters, for supplying the historical/legend version of both the Lady of the Lake and Nimue/Vivienne. I also gained additional information from: Lady of the Lake, Celtic Gods and Goddesses, Encyclopedia of the Celts, and a few others, which are listed below, although it doesn't seem to have a whole lot to do with the Lady of the Lake
Archetypically, Nimue and the Lady of the Lake represented the primal initiation into the Otherworld. She reigned over knowledge, was the foster mother, and the mistress of wisdom.
(Iron Man I#250) - Iron Man and Dr. Doom traveled to the (alternate?) future of 2093, where they were brought by the Merlin of that time. Merlin called on the Lady of the Lake to pass on Excalibur to Iron Man to defeat a threat of that future's Dr. Doom and Iron Man (see comments).
Nimue/Vivienne--connection uncertain (see comments)
Excalibur, the sword of King Arthur, should be differentiated from:
New Excalibur#10-12 (October-December 2006) "The Last Days of
Camelot" - Frank Tieri (writer), Michael Ryan (penciler), Rick Ketcham (inker), Mike
Captain Britain and MI13#2 (August, 2008) - Paul Cornell (writer), Leonard Kirk (penciler), Jesse Delperdang (inker), Will Panzo (assistant editor), Nick Lowe (editor)
Captain Britain and MI13#4 (October, 2008) - Paul Cornell (writer), Leonard Kirk (penciler), Jesse Delperdang (inker), Will Panzo (assistant editor), Nick Lowe (editor)
Last updated: 07/07/13
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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