I love comics. I love superheroes. I have loved both for more than 30 years and have amassed a fair sized collection of comic books and collectibles over the years. Yes, I’m a grown man, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still be a fan, collector, or aficionado of both the medium and its most popular format. It used to irk me when people made fun of me for being a collector – as if being into comics and toys stunted my growth or made me less of a man. Well, as the years went on I’m still a fan of comics and superheroes and toys; I still have the items I grew up with and I still appreciate them with much fondness. I can’t say the same for all of those naysayers. They are a fading memory.
As the years passed, and as my reading habits matured, many different characters became favorites of mine. I like many comic book characters, superheroes or not, but in this posting I would like to discuss my favorite characters — I’ll describe a little bit about their history and origins, appearances in other mediums, and pinpoint the defining moment in the character’s rich history that made me their…Super-Fan!
THE BLACK KNIGHT
This incarnation of the Black Knight, the third in the Marvel Comics Universe, is Dane Whitman a man of science who took on the mantle from his dying uncle Nathan Garrett — the previous Black Knight. Uncle Garrett was a SuperVillain and former member of the cabal of villains known as the Masters of Evil — a constant threat against the Mighty Avengers. Mortally wounded in battle with Iron Man, the elder Knight summoned for his nephew — confessed his crimes to him, and persuaded the younger to take up the mantle of the Black Knight and fight on the side of righteousness. Upon Nathan Garrett’s death, Dane Whitman did indeed adopt the persona of the Black Knight and began an incredible life of crime fighting and battling evil in all of its forms.
The Dane Whitman Black Knight was created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema in 1967 and first appeared in Avengers #47.
THE EBONY BLADE
Upon taking up the guise of the Black Knight, Dane inherited his uncle’s castle in England and upon taking up residence there, was given the powerful Ebony Blade sword from the spirit of Sir Percy of Scandia — the first Black Knight and ancestor of young Mr. Whitman. The Ebony Blade is a weapon of immeasurable power and said to be indestructible. Forged from the metals of a fallen meteorite, and enchanted by Merlin the powerful, the blade is able to:
*Cut through any physical substance other than magically enchanted weapons or powerful metals like adamantium.
*Cut through mystical barriers.
*Deflect energy when angled correctly.
*Absorb all forms of energy.
*Be summoned by the rightful owner if it were ever lost, even if it was in a different time period!
A curious mind, Dane Whitman discovered the fantastic abilities of the Ebony Blade through constant scientific testing of it.
Dane Whitman. Loyal Team Mate
Dane Whitman had a lengthy stay in 12th Century England, when his spirit was summoned by sorcerers to aid their crusade after his apparent death while battling alongside the Defenders against the Asgardian Enchantress and her cronies. Rescued years later by time traveling Avengers, the Black Knight continued his battle against wrong doers in the present and had several stints as a member of the Avengers valued ranks, including a lengthy stay in the mid 1980’s. He is a loyal friend and teammate, often approached for council by other members including some of the founders like the Wasp and Captain America. For a stint in the early 1990’s, the Black Knight was even field leader of the world’s most renowned superteam.
DEFINING MOMENT – BLACK KNIGHT LOYAL WARRIOR AND LOVESTRUCK EVERYMAN
Dane Whitman is always looking out for his team mates well being. He helped run tests on the Wasp which helped her realize that she could use her bio sting powers at almost full size. He also ran tests on Monica Rambeau, the 80’s version of Captain Marvel, so that she can learn the full scale of her energy shifting powers. He even helped save Sersi‘s life by allowing their souls to be bonded together — that’s a friend, right there! The Black Knight is a hero who uses the scientific genius of his civilian life while also battling evil with his magically enhanced armor and enchanted sword. Sadly, the Black Knight’s biggest weakness his uncontrollable propensity to crush on just about every female co-Avenger he serves with. He practically challenges crusader Paladin to a duel in Avengers #271 – 274 (see images below) over the Wasp’s affections. He agreed to the soul bond with Sersi because he fancied her hard, and also chased the Inhuman Crystal around like a lovesick puppy when she joined the team.
Beautifully rendered by the legendary John Buscema, Avengers #271 was (possibly?) my first exposure to the Black Knight in the 1980’s. I immediately thought that he was pretty cool. I’ve been a fan of the character ever since. Hopefully, he can join the ranks of the Avengers once again soon.