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Another Useless Friday Daydream (and a Contest!)

I can’t take it any more. Everywhere in the comics press there is endless speculation and crabbing and geeking out over what DC is doing. It’s starting to feel like we’re all unpaid interns working in DC’s publicity department.

So, enough. Here is something completely different.

(Fair warning… it’s also enormously nerdy.)

However, people seemed to enjoy it when I let my inner fanfic nerd out last time, so here we are again. This is one that started bouncing around in my head while Julie and I were home sick a couple of weeks ago. Since neither one of us felt much like moving, we huddled under a quilt on the couch and had soup and watched a lot of television.

As luck would have it, at the time we were working our way through a DVD set of a one-season wonder called Queen of Swords, a fun little syndicated show (from Fireworks, the Andromeda and Mutant X people) that never really caught on.

Derivative? Yes, absolutely. But we still like it.

Essentially, it’s about a female Zorro in old California. Later, over the weekend, our godson Phenix was visiting and we screened some of the old Duncan Regehr Zorro shows for him, and we watched The Mask of Zorro as well.

Lot of Z action that weekend.

So, I kind of had Zorro on the brain, so to speak, and especially when you watch The Mask of Zorro, you get the idea that it’s a generational thing. Many have been inspired to follow the lead of the Fox.

Sons, daughters, gay cousins... there have been many who donned the mask of El Zorro.

In particular, though, my mind kept drifting to Tessa Alvarado, the Queen of Swords. Could she have been inspired by Zorro? She must have been.

Here’s the official line: A young Spanish aristocrat, Tessa Alvarado, returns to Spanish California after the death of her father and finds her home in ruins, her father’s manservant reduced to stealing. The town where she was born is run by a militaristic governor who abuses his power, resulting in the miscarriage of justice and the poor living conditions of his subjects. Upset about the state of her birthplace and the murder of her father, Tessa’s path is revealed to her in a mysterious dream where her father comes to her and talks of his murder, his hidden gold, and of his “Avenging Angel.” She will take up arms to protect the people from the town’s governor and to avenge her father’s death. Tessa will do this in disguise behind a mask, becoming that “Avenging Angel,” The Queen of Swords. The name is suggested by Tessa’s maid and sole confidante, the gypsy Marta.

Obviously you will find no mention of Zorro in the show itself, but it’s obvious to everyone else. (In France the show was released as “Under the Sign of the Sword,” very similar to the way Alain Delon’s Zorro was called “Cape and Sword.”)

Queen of Swords, Cape and Sword, Sign of the Sword... it all goes the same way home.

I knew that there was a fair amount of Zorro scholarship already out there. In particular, I knew that the crew at the wonderful Wold Newton web site had done a lot of work on figuring out a Zorro chronology and reconciling all the various Zorros we’ve seen in popular fiction.

There have been many Zorros. In prose...

Now, most of the versions in film and television, and in prose and comics as well, all start from Johnston McCulley’s original character, Don Diego de la Vega.

On film...

Diego’s the guy you see in most of the movies, the TV series, the cartoons, and the comics.

....and in comics.

However, the idea that had begun tugging at my subconscious was that Tessa Alvarado, the Queen of Swords, had some kind of family connection to Diego de la Vega. So I hustled myself over to the Wold Newton Zorro Chronology and other documentation to see what they had to say. Sure enough, the Queen was there.

Here’s the relevant part… While Alejandro is off adventuring as Zorro or possibly working with John C. Frement in establishing the American-sponsored Bear Flag revolt, Eléna dons the mask and becomes a Zorro type character called Queen of Swords. She fights against a renegade Don Montoya, a cohort of Montero who attempts to keep California from American hands by terrorizing the populace.

Okay, so that by itself was a really amazing idea. “Tessa Alvarado” is in actuality… Diego’s daughter from The Mask of Zorro, Eléna de la Vega.

These two are.... the SAME PERSON. It makes such perfect sense.

But here’s the part that really got me going: Aiding Eléna in this fight is the Immortal Methos, who calls himself Dr. Helm… The accounts of Eléna’s adventures in this period were portrayed in a highly fictionalized manner in the television show, Queen of Swords.

Yeah. Methos. The guy from Highlander.

According to Wold Newton's Zorro scholars Matthew Baugh and Dennis Power, these two are the same guy. (Oddly, they both resemble an actor named Peter Wingfield....)

That notion started my brain buzzing in a big way. The trouble is that Wold Newton’s Zorro experts (“Zorrologists”?) Matthew Baugh and Dennis Power, just kinda threw it out there and then dropped it. They’re much more interested in figuring out how to reconcile the chronology of the Diego Zorro with the various others that we’ve seen, ranging from Linda Stirling in Zorro’s Black Whip to Antonio Banderas in The Legend of Zorro.

But I didn’t care about that stuff. My mind kept drifting back to Eléna and why she would take on not just one but two new identities. Why would she pretend to be Tessa Alvarado? How did she come to know the gypsy Marta? Why in the hell wasn’t she back home tn the rebuilt de la Vega hacienda with her newborn son (as we saw in the conclusion of Mask of Zorro) instead of gallivanting around California in a mask picking fights with the local government?

Well, I figured it out. Because when you’re sitting on a couch under a quilt for three days straight, your mind wanders. I had to discard some of Mr. Baugh’s and Mr. Power’s assumptions, though.

First of all, let’s just throw out the sequel to The Mask of Zorro. The follow-up movie, Legend of Zorro, can’t possibly count as part of this particular chronology.

Sorry, but this one doesn't count.

The plot is too specifically tied to a particular point in history (California becoming a state) and you just can’t make those dates work; there are anachronisms all over the place. More, too many people saw Alejandro Murrieta unmasked as the new Zorro at the conclusion of Mask, and not only that, they saw him with Eléna and her father Diego. Literally hundreds of freed prisoners from Montero’s illegal gold mine were witnesses to that climactic battle, and they ALL saw Alejandro without his mask and clearly being adopted, more or less, into the Vega family. The idea that he could then continue to operate as the new Zorro, especially after he married Eléna and they set up housekeeping in the de la Vega homestead, is ludicrous on its face. So Legend is out.

No, I think it must have gone something like this…

Zorro, both Diego and his successor Alejandro, had many enemies. Particularly the other dons who were scheming with Rafael Montero in The Mask of Zorro to rob Santa Anna of his gold. So it’s not implausible that Alejandro and Eléna were attacked in their home by one of those enemies; much as Montero had attacked Diego and Esperanza de la Vega in their home two decades previously.

This time, however, it was Alejandro that was killed. Eléna and the baby got away and fled to the south.

More or less at the same time, Tessa Alvarado’s father was murdered by Captain Marcus Grisham on the orders of Colonel Luis Montoya, the governor of Santa Helena. This is because Montoya both fears the threat Don Alvarado represents to his power in Santa Helena, and wants Alvarado’s gold. Not shown in that first episode, though, was Grisham’s men also attempting to murder the real Tessa Alvarado and her maid Marta as they are returning to the Alvarado estate. They get away but Tessa is grievously wounded.

Marta drives the wagon north, desperate to get away and to get Tessa to medical help. And on the road she meets Eléna de la Vega and her infant son.

It’s too late for Tessa; she is dying. She and Eléna strike a deal. Tessa promises that little Joaquin can stay with Tessa’s family in Madrid and be raised there as her son. And Eléna promises to return to Santa Helena and avenge the murder of Tessa’s father.

She knows exactly how to do it, too; after all, both her father and her husband set the example. And Eléna’s got a lot of anger to work off; one way or another, these corrupt aristocrat bastards have cost her not only her father, but also her husband and now her son. Someone’s going to pay for that.

After they get Joaquin safely away to Madrid, they return to Santa Helena. Eléna assumes the identity of Tessa Alvarado — the resemblance is good enough to fool people who haven’t seen the real Tessa since she was a child, and Marta vouches for her as well. Soon thereafter, the Queen of Swords makes her debut.

A corrupt governor's worst nightmare in old California - an opponent that learned from TWO Zorros.

It gives Eléna a certain grim satisfaction to take out all her hostility and anger at the injustices done both to her and the Alvarados; the Queen of Swords is quite a bit nastier than El Zorro. Though she tries not to take lives, she doesn’t worry about it nearly as much as Diego de la Vega did.

From this point events proceed much as they are depicted in the Queen of Swords television show.

It IS a fun show, by the way. Pity there's no official home video release.

Soon after the Queen begins her campaign of guerrilla warfare against Montoya and his crooked regime, Dr. Robert Helm (in reality, Methos the immortal) arrives in Santa Helena.

“Dr. Helm” is an avowed pacifist. He says he has seen more than enough of greed and killing during his time in Europe (which is certainly true, considering how much blood Methos has on his immortal hands.) He has traveled here to the New World in hopes of making a fresh start, away from his past… in particular, all the horrors he committed during his time as one of the Four Horsemen, when he rode as Death.

Sadly, Methos soon discovers that greed and killing know no national boundaries. He is repelled by the atrocities committed in the name of peace by Colonel Montoya and his soldiers. And against all his principles, he finds himself drawn to the Queen of Swords…. her bravery, her recklessness, her sense of justice.

There have been more awkward beginnings for a romance, I'm sure. But not many.

Likewise, Eléna is drawn to Helm. She is fascinated by the dichotomy “Dr. Helm” represents — a man who is clearly fearless and yet refuses to take up arms. An uneasy romance blossoms. Eléna is reluctant to reveal her secrets, though, so Helm only knows the Queen has feelings for him. As Tessa, Eléna pretends to the indifference and shallowness expected of the daughter of a wealthy don. Likewise, Methos the immortal has been operating in secret so long that evasion and lies have become a way of life.

Baugh and Power also posited that Colonel Montoya was in fact Kronos, another immortal Highlander. But I don't buy it, despite the striking resemblance. For one, Kronos would have killed Methos on sight. For another, Montoya was just too stupid to be Kronos; he never recognized Tessa as the Queen even though HER MASK WAS MADE OF LACE.

Most of this we saw play out on Queen of Swords. The show ended before anything further could be shown. But here’s what I think happened.

I think that when California achieved statehood, law came to Santa Helena, and with it, the need for Eléna’s masquerade was gone. Chances are that she and Methos gave in to their mutual attraction. (After all, they were both people damaged by tragedy who’d taken on new identities in an effort at redemption.) They might have tried to make it long-term, maybe even married.

But sooner or later the other immortals would have caught up to “Dr. Helm,” even in a tiny desert backwater like Santa Helena. He would have had to move on.

But not before giving Eléna a son.

Here’s why I think so. I think that son inherited at least half an immortality from Methos. I think he grew up to be….

…superagent Matt Helm.

The real one, that is, the one Donald Hamilton wrote about.

I mean the hardcore killer badass Helm, not the smirky Dean Martin one.

See, here’s the thing. Matt Helm’s adventures have never been incorporated into the Wold Newton mythology, despite a general consensus that he really ought to be in there somewhere. But no one’s ever been able to make the chronology of the books work.

The first Helm novel, Death of a Citizen, was published in 1960. And it clearly took place in 1960. In that first book Helm is a middle-aged veteran of World War II, married, with children. He is recruited back into the service by a former flame of his, a fellow assassin named Tina. There are various cultural references that place the book in 1960 (“Purple People Eater” being a current jukebox selection is just one of them) and there’s no reason to doubt any of them.

But the Helm books continued to come– and they continued to be contemporary. Helm talks about the Vietnam War, the Kent State shootings, the Jonestown massacre… and not only that, but in Helm’s own personal timeline as depicted in the novels, at least twenty years pass. His children age to adulthood and marry.

And yet Helm himself remains the same from that first book, Death of a Citizen in 1960, on up through to the final Helm novel, The Damagers in 1993. He performs extraordinary feats of athleticism and displays almost supernatural endurance; he remains something of a stud with the ladies; and he is deadly in hand-to-hand combat. Moreover, he is almost impossible to kill. (In The Terrorizers an entire houseboat full of terrorists empty their guns into him — Helm still manages to kill most of them and get off the boat to safety before collapsing of his wounds.)

Helm often refers sardonically to his Viking warrior ancestors, and what’s more, he’s not only a crack shot but he’s pretty good with a saber as well. He has a great love for the American southwest, particularly New Mexico. He knows his way really well around desert country and Baja California in particular.

And, oh yeah… his last name’s Helm.

Father and son? I think so.

Usually, when a Wold Newton scholar can’t get the chronological markers inside stories to make sense, the default position is that the adventure must be ‘fictional.’ But I think in this case, the chronology that can’t be made to work is the clue. Matt Helm is the son of an Immortal.

…. or, this whole theory could just be the cold medicine talking. You decide. But I kind of like it.

Of course, that’s because I’m a huge nerd. Your mileage may vary.

See you next week.

EMBARRASSED ADDENDUM: It turns out that my clever theory has a HUGE hole in it. I am informed by various Highlander fans, including the one I am married to, that Immortals can’t father children.

Rather than just admit my mistake like a man, I decided I will instead bribe you, the readers, to solve this problem. So we’re having a contest!

The best explanation of this seeming discrepancy offered in the comments, meaning ‘best’ as ruled on by me, gets a prize.

In the spirit of the old paperback suspense guys that gave us series like Matt Helm….

…THIRD PLACE will be Barrier Island, and SECOND PLACE will be The Lonely Silver Rain, a couple of John D. MacDonald hardcovers.

AND…. in the spirit of cheesy adventure shows that only last one season…

FIRST PLACE will be a complete DVD set of The Master starring the mighty Lee van Cleef.

it has to be a real explanation, though, not just “A wizard did it” or something like that. Put some effort into it.

Winners announced in next week’s column. (Assuming anyone tries. But why wouldn’t you? The Master is fun and if that’s not your thing, well, the John D. hardcovers are not to be missed.)

See you then!

37 Comments

You were doing well, except for the fact that immortals can’t father children. The child would clearly have had to be Methos himself, and I don’t think Methos and Helm have much in common. It seems more likely that if Matt Helm was a “descendant” of Methos, it was only because he was another immortal under yet another assumed name.

You were doing well, except for the fact that immortals can’t father children.

Aw hell. Seriously? This is what I get for not actually following Highlander.

Oh well. I still like the idea. There’s got to be some way to doubletalk my way out of that fix. Maybe we’ll have a contest…. yes. Yes, we will.

(from Fireworks, the Andromeda and Mutant X people)

On just looking at the intro, I was curious if Fireworks did Relic Hunter, a syndicated show that’s in a similar genre (it’s a decent Tomb Raider knock-off/gender switched Indiana Jones knock-off that had a couple of years in syndication). It turns out that’s them as well. I don’t know if Greg has watched that at all.

Now my wife Julie is saying, “Well, no, of course Immortals can’t father children. I didn’t know you were talking about Highlander.”

“And you listened to me carry on about Dr. Helm and Zorro and Matt Helm? All week long??”

“Well, you didn’t say you were talking about Highlander. That was the big tragedy, he could never have a family, he was always alone….”

*headdesk*headdesk*headdesk*

I only watched the first two Highlander movies long ago, but I vaguely remembered that they couldn’t father children – when I got to that part in your narrative I thought that was something that had been retconned by the later moves/tv shows/whatever. Apparently not. Too bad, because this post is otherwise a masterpiece – I’ve always only had a superficial interest in Zorro, but now I’m almost tempted to really get into the whole thing.
Also, I just have to say, my hands-down, absolutely all-time favorite Zorro movie is “The Gay Blade” – I’ve seen it about a half-dozen times and still think it’s hilarious. If you could find a way to work Bunny Wigglesworth into your continuity, you’d truly be a grand master…

Well, boogers. It’s still a pretty awesome article, though.

‘Course, I’m the one who can argue how concepts of the Force and midichlorians from the Star Wars prequels can fit with the original trilogy and expanded universe. So I don’t know that my opinion really weighs much here. >.>

Travis Pelkie

June 11, 2011 at 2:00 am

Wow, so the other day I had my goofy version of Queen’s Flash Gordon theme in my head (check out Bill’s Random Thoughts for that), and now I’ve got the Highlander theme in my head. “I am immortal, I have inside me blood of kings!” Hot damn!

Hmm, not familiar enough with Zorro stuff, Highlander stuff, or any of that.

I haven’t finished Planetary, either, so nobody spoil it for me if I’m wrong, but maybe Matt Helm was born on January 1, 1900? Still to the Queen of Swords (no, wait, she’d be way old, right?)….

dammit.

I love how Julie says “well, no, of course Immortals can’t father children.” Of course. Yeah, Greg, what’re ya, stupid? jeez.

(no, I didn’t know that either, I just think it’s funny that she said of course)

How do Highlanders/Immortals come to be? Perhaps Matt Helm is one, and Methos knew him, and took the alias from when Methos was in Santa Helena?

I dunno, I suck. But now I want to watch all this stuff and read me some Zorro.

Is the guy that plays Dr Helm on Queen of Swords the same guy that was the bad guy in the SciFi Riverworld miniseries? Is that where I’ve seen him?

If you could find a way to work Bunny Wigglesworth into your continuity, you’d truly be a grand master…

I didn’t, but the Wold Newton folks did. I believe you’ll find him listed under his birth name, Ramon de la Vega.

Travis Pelkie

June 11, 2011 at 2:10 am

And because you’re dying to know, yes, he was Richard Burton in Riverworld. He was also on Human Target, a show I liked but on one of the episodes I never saw.

He gets a lot of SF type work — he was in Catwoman, and X2, among other things.

And on the imdb page for Queen of Swords, someone’s asking to be emailed if the show’s out on DVD, so if you’d like to be a mensch and tell this person how you got the DVD, they’d probably dig that.

Travis Pelkie

June 11, 2011 at 2:13 am

And then I looked at that family tree, and my mind was blown. Am I reading that right, Zorro is Perry Mason’s grandfather? And all those others…

Oh, if I look at that Wold Newton stuff, I’d never get off the internet. Must…avoid…site…too…much…coolness….

Wow, I must have posted my comment just as you were updating your post – I come back from reading Comic Book Legends Revealed and find a contest attached to the original post! …Unfortunately, I’m just not adept enough at this Wold Newton stuff, or even Zorro or Highlander lore, to even think about participating.
Thanks for the link by the way – although I have to ask (and again my meager knowledge of Zorro lore is showing here), is that in fact the same Ramon de la Vega who appears in the George Hamilton movie? Because he was really gay there, and if I’m reading that genealogy right, he gets married (to a woman) and fathers a child. Doesn’t quite fit…

And Travis, I have to say, I’ve been doing everything to avoid getting sucked into the vortex that is the Wold Newton site ever since I first heard of it. It’s getting harder and harder, and Greg’s occasional columns like this one (read this in Shatner voice) make it… increasingly … difficult… to… resist…

The most obvious solution would be that baby Matt was a pre-immortal who was adopted by Elena & Dr. Helm, (Immortals can detect pre-immortals, so maybe Dr. Helm sensed that about little orphan Matt?)

Unfortunately the big problem would be the timeline. I seem to think Matt was 18 or so when he joined the Army, so he would have had to be adopted in the 1920’s or so, which might be a little late.

Also his immortality would have had to kick in after the last of his kids was born, probably after Death Of A Citizen since Immortals have to die before they become immortal. Although considering some of the near-death situations he found himself in, maybe he died & came back to life & just didn’t realize it.

Another possible problem is Matt’s cousin from The Wrecking Crew. Don’t remember if Matt’s mother & father were named there, but his family’s geneology was researched by her.

Greg – “too many people saw Alejandro Murrieta unmasked as the new Zorro at the conclusion of Mask, and not only that, they saw him with Eléna and her father Diego. Literally hundreds of freed prisoners from Montero’s illegal gold mine were witnesses to that climactic battle, and they ALL saw Alejandro without his mask and clearly being adopted, more or less, into the Vega family. The idea that he could then continue to operate as the new Zorro, especially after he married Eléna and they set up housekeeping in the de la Vega homestead, is ludicrous on its face. So Legend is out.”

IIRC Zorro’s identity was revealed in either the original Zorro story, or the first sequel, & the reveal was later ignored as his creator cranked out more sequels. (Who says Retcons are a new thing?) ;-)

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 11, 2011 at 6:01 am

A little bit nerdy there.

But then, it wouldn’t be a Greg Hatcher column, if it wasn’t. ;-)

I find it significant that the 1998 Zorro film produced a sequel; in recent
years, since about 1968, the Lone Ranger, Flash Gordon, the Phantom, the Shadow, Doc Savage, Dick Tracy and Prince Valiant have not produced sequels. All of these properties date to the 1930’s, while Zorro dates to the 1910’s.

(Beatty did win a courtroom suit about making Dick Tracy sequels, though.)

Regarding older properties, Sherlock Holmes did not produce a theatrical sequel from 1946 to 2008. Simon Templar has not produced a sequel. Tarzan only has a live-action sequel if you count Casper Van Dien’s film as a sequel to Greystroke due to a shared producer. Allan Quatermain had a sequel, but they made that film concurrently with the first film. Bulldog Drummond had one sequel. Nick Carter only had one sequel).

Clearly, Dr. Helm was a friend of Matt’s father, who changed his last name to ‘Helm’ after escaping some unknown trouble from his past; Dr. Helm helped to create the fiction that Matt’s father was actually his long-lost cousin. Dr. Helm was quite fond of the young Matt, and when the boy was seriously injured in a hunting accident, Dr. Helm helped to save the boy’s life via a blood transfusion. The special qualities of Dr. Helm’s blood from being an immortal had an effect on the young Matt; his aging would eventually slow down, and his physical capabilities would become truly remarkable, but he would not be able to sense other immortals, nor would they be able to sense him.

A little bit nerdy there.

I warned you all! Before the cut even! Would I LIE about something like that?

Thanks for the link by the way – although I have to ask (and again my meager knowledge of Zorro lore is showing here), is that in fact the same Ramon de la Vega who appears in the George Hamilton movie? Because he was really gay there, and if I’m reading that genealogy right, he gets married (to a woman) and fathers a child. Doesn’t quite fit…

You’re right, it doesn’t. I knew it was there, though, and you actually made me go dig out the collection Myths for The Modern Age, the awesome collection of Wold Newton essays from Monkeybrain Books. (Recommended.)

Here is the relevant passage from Matthew Baugh’s expanded Zorro chronology…

In Santa Fe, Don Antonio de la Cruz hears of Don Diego’s supposed death. He travels to Los Angeles and takes up the identity of Zorro. Monasterio is gone but the evil Alcalde de Soto is still in the pueblo. Before long Don Cesar returns from his European travels. The two men realize they look enough like one another to pass as twins and use this to their advantage. After a short series of adventures they oust de Soto and set things right in Los Angeles. (The story of Antonio’s return to avenge Don Diego comes from the unsold television pilot, The New Adventures of Zorro. The idea of the twin brothers fighting to avenge their ‘father’ is seen in distorted form in the film Zorro, the Gay Blade.)

In a footnote it is explained that “Bunny” is actually Don Antonio de la Cruz and “Diego” is actually Don Cesar Vega.

And then I looked at that family tree, and my mind was blown. Am I reading that right, Zorro is Perry Mason’s grandfather? And all those others…

Oh, if I look at that Wold Newton stuff, I’d never get off the internet. Must…avoid…site…too…much…coolness….

I try never to go there unless I have at least an hour. It’s endlessly entertaining. Our friend Bret calls it “the Unified Field Theory of pulp fiction.” My all-time favorite Wold Newton dissertation (after Philip Jose Farmer’s original Tarzan and Doc Savage biographies, that is) is Win Eckert’s genealogy of the great villains, “The Malevolent Moriartys, or Who’s Going To Take Over The World When I’m Gone?”

Sadly, there is no official DVD release of Queen of Swords. I’d be all over that even though we have a set of sorts, but ours were burned for us off a friend’s TiVo. Watchable, but I’d rather have something nicer (and legit.)

Tarzan only has a live-action sequel if you count Casper Van Dien’s film as a sequel to Greystroke due to a shared producer.

We actually own this. Tarzan and the Lost City comes a lot closer to Burroughs than any of the others. Never going to win any Oscars, but like the Asylum’s Princess of Mars it at least looks like the people involved actually have some respect and affection for the actual novels. And it’s fun, as opposed to Greystoke which I thought was a thudding bore. (Still bitter about what a disappointment that was…. back when it was first announced I thought we were getting the REAL Tarzan movie at last. Instead we got a glacially-paced veddy British exercise in class snobbery. Blech. No one in movies seems to understand Tarzan is a pulp character at heart.)

I liked reading your thoughts and theories, Greg. So what the heck, I’ll give it a shot:
I think I’ll go Occam’s Razor for this, the simplest explanation is usually the correct one:
It just happened.
How many times in nature has something happened that can’t happen? The tabloids and nature reality shows would all be out of business if things went as they were supposed to. As they say in Jurassic Park, nature finds a way. And in this case, love. The odds were defied, the gods looked the other way, it was a once in forever chance…but it happened. There are a lot of couples (especially teenagers) who’ll back that up.
And how many times in fiction are we to ask for accept implausible occurances?

thanks for the little history lesson on the queen of swords maybe being a female version of zorro as for matt maybe being the off spring of methos aka helms as pointed out already immortals can not father children. so matt could not be helms and the queen kid. though since helms is suppose to be a different character played by the actor who played methos he could indeed have secretly given the queen a kid since methos and helms are too differant characters not the same one just played by the same actor

Greg, thanks for another descent into Wold Newtonian madness, and for pointing folks to my Wold Newton site (http://www.pjfarmer.com/woldnewton/Pulp2.htm), and my colleague Dennis Power’s site (http://www.pjfarmer.com/secret/index.htm).

Hard to believe, but MYTHS FOR THE MODERN AGE: PHILIP JOSE FARMER’S WOLD NEWTON UNIVERSE is now out of print. But I do have copies for sale on my author site (http://woldnewton.blogspot.com/p/signed-books.html) and used copies can be found on abebooks.com, etc.

Since Matthew Baugh wrote his original Zorro Chronology, which also appeared in MYTHS, he has gone on to be very involved in the two Zorro anthologies from Moonstone Books, and I was lucky enough to also pen an authorized Zorro tale for Moonstone’s MORE TALES OF ZORRO. Check it out here, if interested: http://moonstonebooks.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=853

Best,

-Win

Helm is not a Highlander-type immortal at all, he is a renegade Time Lord pretending to be a Highlander-type immortal.
Duh.

I’ve never seen the Antonio Banderas Zorros films, but this has been bugging me ever since the second one came out– How did they go from Spanish California to the beginning of Statehood? What about the more than a quarter century of Mexican California? Had that much time actually passed between the movies? Or did they just ignore the real history, as Hollywood so often does?

Here’s my theory:

Matt Helm is Elena’s son, though not by Methos of course. However, Matt’s unknown father died well before the child was ever born and Methos adopted him as his own. When Methos own life started to catch up with him and he had to move on before being beheaded by one of the Four Horsemen, he couldn’t bear to see the young man he helped raise from childhood grow old. So he contacted several of the foremost scientists of the time (people like Professor George Challenger, Dr. Moreau, or even Moriarty) to develop a serum that will allow his adopted son to live for some time to come. Helm continued to use the formula for the rest of his life, greatly retarding his aging process. While Helm served in the service in World War II this same serum came in to the hands of the United States government and distilled in to a weaker version that became known as the Infinity Formula, which is used to slow the ages of select government agents included one Nick Fury.

How’s that for an answer?

OK, first of all allow me to giggle for a few seconds at the whole notion of Hatcher complaining at all the fan wanking over DC’s reboot and then diving head first into the same kind of thinking about Zorro and Wold Newton. HAH! :D

That said, it is true that the DC thing has got me a bit down – no it doesn’t look like the post-Flashpoint DC will be any less gritty :( – but as usual, Greg’s column cheered me up, so Thanks for that. Now, onto this Zorro business:

You know, despite being Latino, I was never a big Zorro fan- I loved the Disney TV show but that was it. It’s only over the years that I came to really respect the character, especially for his influence on so many characters INCLUDING Batman, a fact that doesn’t get mentioned often enough. There has never been a Batman/Zorro team up, that I know of, is there? What, Bats gets to meet Tarzan and Doc Savage but not the character than inspired him? Boo!

Queen of Swords was a nice takeoff but nothing special on its own. Now, Aguila Roja, a Spanish TV show that’s pretty much Zorro as a Ninja -laugh if you will, but the show IS deadly serious- is a much better example of how deep the character’s influence around the world is. Pretty well done, too, but nowhere as fun (spends too much time in angst and historical fiction.) For those who have never heard of the series, a movie based on it is due to be released soon. Or, you could read the TV Tropes page I made about it. ;) at http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AguilaRoja

As for your challenge… well, why not? Let’s take a stab at it (pun intended ;) ) Ok, I’m not 100% sure I know how the Highlander stuff works, but I think that the point is The Highlanders cannot have children that would inherit their powers because if they did, it would be IMPOSSIBLE for them to kill each other off until only one is left which is the whole point of all the versions of the concept. I don’t see why they couldn’t have NORMAL children, however; though most likely would (eventually) avoid doing that because it’s hard enough to outlive your friends, it’s far more painful to outlive your own children. Also, most of them could be unfertile anyway.

(Note that this aspects apply to Marvel’s Eternals: they CAN have children with humans but they will be mortals, and even among each other they have like one child in an age.)

So, if I win, can I have the novels? Not that I don’t like The Master -loved it back in the day in fact- but the novels would be new to me (having read only one Helm novel in my life.) Besides, I don’t have a DVD player. :P (I watch DVDs on my PS2, but it won’t play Blue Rays.) I could use something to read *In Something Other Than A PC Screen* these days too. (Grumble grumble Borders closing down grumble…*

Mike Loughlin

June 11, 2011 at 8:25 pm

I don’t know much about Zorro (hot damn, the Toth stuff looks great, though. Too bad he was stuck with such bad scripts) or Highlander (along with Dr. Who, a big gap in my nerdosity), so this might not work. Also, it’s kind of close to “A Wizard Did It:”

*****
Methos had grown weary of his immortality, but saw suicide as unthinkable. His despair drew the attention of Mephisto, who wanted his marriage for some reason and… oops, wrong story. Anyway, Mephisto wanted the soul of an immortal. He knew Methos wanted death, but that wasn’t enough. He instead offered Methos a deal: Methos could gain happiness and love in exchange for his immortality. Methos, of course, was too smart to give into that trick. He knew an eternity of hardship on Earth, and there was no way he would go through an eternity in hell.

Mephisto then offered him something else: Methos wouldn’t give up his soul, just his immortality, which he didn’t want anyway. Nothing more. Puzzled but seeing no downside to the arrangement (and thinking he could find a way to beat the devil at this game even if it was some sort of trick), Methos agreed. Mephisto told him he would keep his immortality until he found true fulfillment. At this point, Methos turned his life into a search for such fulfillment. He became renounced violence, as it led to suffering, and became “Dr. Helm.”

The “Queen of Swords” adventures happened next. After finding true love and a good life as a doctor, Mephisto appeared and took away his immortality. Methos fathered Matt Helm. On the night of his son’s birth, Mephisto bestowed upon him a gift: his father’s immortality. Laughing, he claimed ownership of the child, as the immortality came through Mephisto. Methos had merely transferred his curse onto his son.

Not a true Highlander, Matt Helm can father children. Unfortunately, Methos’ guilt and subconscious resentment toward the child resulted in Matt growing up hard. Finding out he was cursed to live forever and forfeit his soul didn’t exactly help the relationship. He took the same path his father walked for centuries, living a violent life of adventure. Nothing can hurt him, right? All the while he seeks a loophole, a way to beat the Devil and reclaim his soul…

(Dr. Strange helped him out, eventually.)

Methos died in the mid-20th Century, bitter and wracked with guilt. Mephisto’s pact had indeed ruined him.

*****
Yeah, it’s magic. Sorry. It’s long, though. That’s got to get me at least a C.

Mike Loughlin,

Your theory falls apart because Methos is still alive and well at least in to the early 90s. He’s one of the immortals that survived the Highlander TV series intact.

Mike Loughlin

June 12, 2011 at 6:59 am

Oh. Well then, a wizard did it :)

Well, this might verge on Wizards doing it, maybe, but here i go.

The Powers that Be, from Joss Whedon’s Angel, see in Methos and Eléna a possibility for a champion. One that they can guide to fight the good fight and maybe avert the apocalypse. So they bend the rules. Why not? They do it again in the 2000s, with another immortal who cannot father children.

This explanation then begs the question…how did the Powers that Be lose control and or interest in Matt Helm, who they went out of their way to create? And did Helm really do more to avert the apocalypse than maybe he is aware?

Wow, you guys are good! In fact, I’m seeing enough good ones that I’m inclined to let this go on a little longer; let’s say the deadline is Thursday of this week and first, second, and third place winners announced in Friday’s column. I’ll go edit that in right now, in fact.

Just to be clear: we have to use only concepts from Zorro and Highlander, right? Because using Dr. Who or Angel concepts seems a bit too far off (unless they are part of Wold Newton too? Hey I heard some people even managed to fit in Tintin!)

And to be clear myself, my theory is that it isn’t that Highlanders cannot sire children, only that those children will never be immortals themselves; otherwise the ‘gene pool’ so to speak, will never run out from their killing each other for their ‘power’ so the whole quest to be The One would be impossible. They just might avoid having children intentionally once they find this fact out of fear of just watching them grow older than themselves and die one day. Still, sometimes they either don’t realize the fact (especially if they just ‘awakened’) or can’t avoid getting giggy with someone at a moment of passion. ;)

The solution is obvious: When the time for Elena’s fight as the Queen of Swords was done, she married Methos and reclaimed her son. When Joaquin was revealed to be an Immortal, Methos mentored him. Joaquin eventually split with Methos over their philosophical differences, but he wound up adopting the name “Matt Helm” for the same reason that Connor MacLeod took the name “Russell Nash”.

Sijo,

I of course am not certain, but i understood that our mission was to find a way to make Matt Helm the son of Methos and Eléna. Other than that, i did not see any restrictions on how we were supposed to go about it. The article itself works within the confines of the Wold Newton world, which, it seems to me, is how one would go about reconciling an alleged error such as an immortal having a child.

Just to be clear: we have to use only concepts from Zorro and Highlander, right? Because using Dr. Who or Angel concepts seems a bit too far off (unless they are part of Wold Newton too? Hey I heard some people even managed to fit in Tintin!)

Comixkid is right. Any character or set of characters that’s been fit into the WNU is fair game; I can’t honestly remember if Buffy and Angel are included, but I know Professor Challenger and the Moriarty family are, and Dr. Moreau as well. There’s an awful lot that’s been fit into the Wold Newton Universe. If you’re not sure, take a minute to skim the Zorro Chronology and “The Wold Wold West” articles. But new characters are being added all the time; the idea is that you have to make the case for them. That was the whole purpose of doing the original Matt Helm goof-off column in the first place. (I’d asked Win Eckert a while ago if anyone had written anything on Matt, and he said no, no one had, so have at it. So I did.)

But really the final judgement is mine. If I think it sounds plausible and it was written with a little effort (i.e., you can’t just say “The Shaper of Worlds rewrote reality” or something like that) it wins. It’s very arbitrary, yes, but it saves arguing.

Now that Zorro has come up, I thought I would mention these things:

1. DId Johnston McCulley ever write Zorro comic books?

2. Judge Richard Straniere of New York laid down a ruling where he criticized a lawyer named DeFilippo who tried to dodge paying a refund on a retainer from a previous differently named law firm. Straniere objected to the idea of DeFilippo thinking he could evade the consequences of his actions by coming up with a name for his company. Straniere also wrote that DeFilippo “must be reminded that Zorro (Don Diego de la Vega), The Shadow (Lamont Cranston)…..each had an alter-ego but was, in fact, only one person who understood the difference between right and wrong and, unlike the defendant, never sought to disavow responsibility for their own actions.”

Did this judge not bother to see even the 1994 film version of The Shadow or the 1998 Zorro movie? Zorro and the Shadow worked outside of the law and adopted dual identities to shield one identity from the consequences of the other identity’s actions. As Max Allan Collins pointed out in Amazing Heroes#119, they adopted alter egos since the cops would have arrested them on the spot (and in Zorro’s case, the Spanish army would have possibly executed him). Zorro acted as a social protester in the 1998 film; in the 1994 Shadow film the police commissioner noted he would appoint a task force to stop the Shadow from interfering with police affairs (the Shadow tampers with the commissioner’s mind to protect his alter ego’s activities and stop him from appointing the task force-not a stellar example of obedience to rule of law). In other words, Zorro and the Shadow adopted dual identities to shield themselves from the consequences of their actions. Only later on did the idea of “to protect my loved ones” come up when the genre started growing more self-consciously juvenile. Zorro and the Shadow came from the days of the unbuilt trope.

[…] Another Useless Friday Daydream (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com) […]

So…I know this contest is over…but I do have a theory that might work…
Once upon a time, a long time ago, Immortals could have children. It was incredibly difficult for the men to father children/the egg to be fertilized in the women, and of course if a woman Immortal received an injury that would be fatal for a mortal or a Quickening the fetus would die, but it was technically possible. Then along came a poor abused witch named Cassandra who cursed all Immortals forever after to be infertile because of her bitterness about what Methos did to her. One problem: “all Immortals forever after” doesn’t include the ones that were already Immortal at that point. So, tah-dah! Methos can have kids. Duncan can’t.

renee de la vega

April 6, 2012 at 7:47 am

buenos dias!!!
well….i thought it was really great to see so many of you interested in the legend of zorro – and i liked your “storyline” – it was a nice thing to wake up to and read.
i decieded that maybe you might like to have an actual “blood-line” “de la Vega” post a comment here.
my mother immigrated here from mexico in 1968, to give birth to me.
my grandmother’s mother came from spain…..she died in childbirth ….but she made certain our family would NEVER FORGET ..we carry on our name no matter what…whether its our moms or dads name <3
que dios te bendiga
renee de la vega
caminetti

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