*Warning: Spoilers For "Defenders" #1 Present*
Prester John, based loosely on the mythical Christian king of the same name, first appeared in Fantastic Four #54 (September 1966). He has mostly appeared since then as a villain, opposing Thor and, although I never read it, apparently Deadpool as well.
Our Prester John is a centuries-old explorer who was born in an unnamed kingdom in Eastern Asia, which he once ruled. He was also once was an ally of King Richard the Lionhearted and served in his court. He also once possessed the Evil Eye, a mystic object of power which was bestowed upon him in the extra-dimensional land of Avalon. He has been a priest, a king, an adventurer, a traveler and explorer.
Anyhoo, Prester John was preserved from the 12th century until modern times in the Chair of Survival by the alchemists of Avalon. When he awoke, he met the Human Torch and Wyatt Wingfoot and witnessed the seeming destruction of the Evil Eye. Prester John later became temporarily possessed by an alien power stone, and battled the Thing and Iron Man.
Prester John later time-traveled by unknown means back to the 12th century. There, he recovered the Evil Eye, which had been reassembled in the present and brought back to the past by – ta da! – the Defenders! He then remained in the 12th century. It was later revealed how he was thrown back to the 12th century by Kang. There, he battled a time-traveling “Thor” (Eric Masterson).
Prester John has allied himself in the past with the would-be messiah Cable, serving as the “Head of Multi-Religious Studies” for the island nation of Providence.
Our villain is a gifted intellect, but has no superhuman powers I know of. He is an excellent swordsman and is usually armed with a sword and a staff.
As I said, Prester John has sometimes carried the Evil Eye, a mystic object able to project bolts of concussive force, to disintegrate matter, and to create and destroy force fields. He once briefly possessed superhuman strength and durability conferred upon him while he was possessed by the previously-mentioned alien power stone. Once freed from its influence, he lost those attributes.
So how did he get involved with the New Men created by the High Evolutionary? (Recognize them from recent appearances in the Iron Man/Thor mini and Mighty Avengers?) What does he have to do with Nul?
See you in the pages of The Defenders!