Since I post regularly on social media about my writing, people often ask me variations of the question, “What else have you written?” Unbeknownst to most people who know me, I’ve tried my hands at a number of projects. As I was perusing some old files today, I came across a comic book I pitched to Marvel in 2007. Yes, that Marvel. And while it was rejected, I still love the concept. There might even be a theme or two that I loan to The Lost Royals…we’ll see.
The historical origins of this story are true. Fifteen hundred years ago, Attila the Hun was poised to ransack the unguarded city of Rome when he was met in Northern Italy by Pope Leo I. Catholic legend says the image of St. Peter threatened Attila, and the great Hun fled westward away from Rome.
The following memorandum from one of my main characters suggests otherwise. Without further ado…
For the eyes of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.
Transcript of the audio diary of Jonathan Harper, Vatican Order of the Adherents. Demon Hunter.
Diary recovered in Vatican City, in the ruins of the Church of Santo Stefano degli Abissini, which was destroyed by demons and Hellfire escaping the lost Porta de Infernus.
The fifth century A.D. The once-great Roman Empire is divided in two and disintegrating. But with one great empire dying in Rome, another was rising to take its place.
The Church began to solidify its power under Pope Leo I. Halfway through his reign he would turn back one of the most fearsome conquerors Europe has ever seen. His name is Attila, leader of the Huns. Enemies and tribesmen alike name him ‘the Scourge of God’.
Pope Leo met the horde with a few advisors, some gold, and the Word of God.
The Pope pleaded with Attila, asking that the Huns spare Rome. And for some reason, they did. Church scribes say the spirit of St. Peter appeared to Attila. Fearing his holy blade, the Hun then turned his men westward and away from Rome.
But history is often recorded by those who can favorably rewrite it. My research indicates Attila first accompanied Leo to Rome where Leo revealed a dark and terrifying secret. A secret that frightened the fearless Hun. A secret that required the building of Vatican City to hide it.
And I am about to unlock this secret, though I know not what it is. Jonathan Harper, April 18.
Cardinal Emanuel Esperanza
(EE / ff)
That’s the teaser I included with the script and query letter. Man, it takes me back. I had so much fun creating the story and bringing the characters of Jonathan Harper, Grace Chang, and their supporting cast to life. Not only did it combine two of my passions – history and writing, which were my college majors – it was a project that took full advantage of the comic book medium. I hope to get back to it one day.
I share it as an example of something a writer put their heart, blood, and sweat into, but hasn’t yet found additional life in publication. It happens, we’re crushed, we move on and live to write another day.
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© Michael Wallevand, February 2020