Hello and welcome to another edition of Ye Olde School Café! This week, we’ll begin an exciting look at one of my favorite characters, the Black Knight! In his first limited series, we see a lot of what makes him a hero, and Avengers material for sure! You know, the 1990s take a lot of heat for being terrible, and some of it rightly so, but there are a few gems out there and you just need to dig a little deeper to find them. Case in point, this limited series about Dane Whitman, the Black Knight. At this point, he’s been frozen and looks like a statue. His good friend, Victoria Bentley, has been taking care of him while he’s under this affliction. The moniker of the Black Knight has been worn down through the ages by a few different men, but my personal favorite is definitely Whitman. His courage, big heart, and razor sharp acumen make him one of my favorite Avengers of all time! Written by Roy and Dann Thomas, and illustrated by the late Tony De Zuniga (Black Knight Limited Series-vol.1,1990).
We begin our story with Captain America and Hawkeye, as they’re perusing a castle not too far from Washington, D.C. They stop to talk about their somewhat fallen comrade, the Black Knight (he’s been turned to stone by the Enchantress). They then talk with Victoria Bentley briefly, and she explains to them that she’s going to enlist the help of Doctor Strange to free Whitman from his stone prison. After they leave, Bentley and her butler, Catherwood, use a crystal and pieces of a shattered brazier to look into the past to find answers for releasing their friend from the curse. They see the court of King Arthur Pendragon, as he’s being spoken to by Sir Percy of Scandia. He’s requesting asylum in Arthur’s lands because his have been overrun by his enemies. Arthur grants his request, but the sinister Sir Mordred and Morgan Le Fey scheme to use this to their advantage to usurp the throne and kill Arthur. Merlin stands by, watching and ready to thwart their plans.
Speaking of Merlin, he has always been behind the scenes, using his magics to orchestrate things to his liking. Sir Percy then dons the armor and helmet of the Black Knight (as he’s been trained to be a warrior since childhood), and fights many battles in the name of Camelot and King Arthur. During another battle, we see the treacherous Mordred, as he and King Arthur are locked in battle. Mordred then stabs Arthur, but Arthur deals his own killing blow, and both men lie dying. The Black Knight enters the room and is enraged, but turns his back to Mordred, who then mortally wounds him, as well. Merlin vows that the Black Knight will live again through another, and then disappears into the night.
We first see the descendant of Sir Percy in battle, then next, Sir Eobar Garrington in the Crusades. Even an evil Black Knight named Nathan Garrett, who fights the Avengers, but gets mortally wounded by Iron Man. As he lies dying, he begs his nephew, Dane Whitman, to atone for his sins and carry on the mantle of the Black Knight! He does, but is at first mistaken for his evil uncle. After that situation is cleared up, he proves himself to be a worthy ally to the Avengers time and time again. He also discovers the Ebony Blade, but is unaware of the curse it carries (when the user of the blade strikes someone down, it urges its user to keep on killing – a blood curse of sorts).
Finally, we watch as the beautiful but villainous Enchantress puts a spell on Whitman, through a kiss, that petrifies him as he now stands. His spirit, however, is a different story. That is transported to the 12th Century, where he battles the evil Mordred and his arcane forces. He later is given a present by a druid named Amergis. The ebony-winged horse, Valinor, that will be forever by his side in battle! He is then accompanied by the Avengers to fight a monstrosity named Fomor, one that they eventually defeat together. Dane is eventually returned to his normal self, but when Namor uses his sword to strike down a leviathan, the blood curse on the sword returns him to his stone prison.
Back in the present, Victoria and Catherwood are greeted by the spirit of Sir Percy. He doesn’t speak, but points to a nearby wall. They find a secret compartment that houses the old armor and helmet of Sir Percy himself! They put it on Dane’s body, and in an instant the body is reanimated by the spirit of Sir Percy! He questions Victoria and Catherwood as to why they have summoned him. As they try to find the words, a demon wearing armor busts through the door and attacks them. The Black Knight grabs the Ebony Blade and battles the beast. During the battle, Victoria gets too close and the demon grabs her, and then flies away. The Black Knight mounts his famous winged horse, and pursues them. He defeats the demon, and snatches a falling Victoria right out of the sky! As the two of them are rejoicing, they are greeted by the spirits of Mordred and Morgan Le Fey. They tell Sir Percy to abandon his quest to help Victoria or he’ll surely regret it. He challenges them, but then they fade away. As they return to the castle, Catherwood is hurt by some falling debris. The Black Knight brings him inside, and he begs Victoria to tell him what she knows about Mordred and Le Fey’s plans!
Well, that’s it for now, but be back next week as we see none other than Captain Britain enter our story! We’ll see if he and Sir Percy can defeat the powerful magics of Mordred and Morgan Le Fey! See you next time!